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New Patriots linebacker Brandon Copeland explains his approach to offseason time management

Related: David Andrews found a new perspective on football during his one-year absence

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Brandon Copeland is a Renaissance man. Not only is he currently preparing for his eighth season as a professional football player, he also is involved in multiple other endeavors. The 28-year-old is running two real estate agencies with his wife, Taylor, and is also active as an investor. He is not just an alum but also a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches a course focused on financial literacy. He works as a speaker and is an active philanthropist. In short, Copeland is a busy man.

This spring, another task awaits him: he needs to get acclimated to a new environment after signing a one-year contract with the New England Patriots in unrestricted free agency. Moving from one city to the next is nothing new for Copeland — the Patriots are his fifth club since he joined the NFL as an undrafted rookie back in 2013 — but he will have to adapt and build a bond with his teammates amid the current Coronavirus crisis and social distancing guidelines implemented because of it.

The biggest challenge still appears to be time, however, at least from a distance. That said, Copeland explained during his introductory video conference call with the New England media on Wednesday how he is able to accommodate a number of things related to his professional and personal life. The key word that the first-year Patriot mentioned when talking about offseason time management is compartmentalization.

“I think that you understand what you can affect in moments,” Copeland said. “So, for example, right now, we’re in this interview. There’s nothing that is affecting that bubble or space. The same thing happens when I’m preparing for a game or preparing and watching film during the week or recovering or anything like that. So, for me, compartmentalization is everything, and then obviously, prioritization: it is obviously God, family, football.”

“It’s making sure you do everything necessary to make sure that you don’t leave this game, this practice this rep with regrets,” he continued. “And so the only way I can do that is by making sure I exhaust myself in that preparation, in that training. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people —not even just football, I mean, I’ve just seen it in my own intern experiences and stuff like that — who leave things with regret because they didn’t put in that extra ounce, that extra workout, that extra time, and that will never be me.”

Copeland’s approach to managing his time and resources has allowed him to build an impressive portfolio, and to carve out a career in pro football despite numerous setbacks suffered along the way. As noted above, he went undrafted out of Penn and remained without a team more than a month after getting released by the Baltimore Ravens on his first cutdown day. Copeland joined the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad, but would not appear in an actual game until his 2015 season with the Detroit Lions.

Since his debut, he has appeared in 60 regular season games and a playoff contest, but still had to fight his way through obstacles — from suffering a season-ending pectoral injury during the 2017 preseason to being suspended the first four games of the 2019 season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy. Along the way Copeland learned not just to be persistent, but also how to efficiently manage his time to help himself and others.

“For me, I always say make time. If it’s something that you really want to do, make the time to do it,” he said on Wednesday. “I really want to make sure that at my funeral, as grim as it may sound, there’s more people talking about the holiday shopping spree we took them on or the groceries that we gave them during a crazy time like this than a sack that I’m going to have this year or something like that. I know that might be weird to say in a forum like this, but that’s just the reality of the situation.”

“Football is the key to all of this stuff, football makes all of these things easier — but football is the main focus,” Copeland continued. “You give everything to that, and then once you turn to the other thing, that’s when you give 100 percent to that. One thing I’ll leave you with, my high school coach used to always say [...] you can’t work out all day. You can’t work out for 24 hours. So, in that other time — no offense to people who do — but instead of me playing video games or something else, I’m just thinking about my football camp or thinking about a class lesson or something like that. You make time for the things you want.”