Brandon Copeland is not a typical Ivy League professor. He packs 263 pounds of lean muscle onto a 6-foot-3 frame, doesn’t wear much tweed and moonlights as starting linebacker in the National Football League.
Nor is Copeland a typical NFL player. A 2013 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, he signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent after graduation rather than return to UBS , the investment bank where he interned for two summers in college. When he was waived prior to the 2013-14 season, he day traded options on the side while playing for the Tennessee Titans practice squad. After signing with the Detroit Lions in April 2015, he flipped houses in the city’s up-and-coming neighborhoods. He currently runs a real-estate business with his wife, Taylor.
This winter, Copeland—now a starting linebacker for the New York Jets—is adding college professor to his long list of unusual side hustles. He is teaching a financial literacy seminar in the Urban Studies department at his alma mater, along with Dr. Brian Peterson, director of the university’s Makuu Black Cultural Center.
“I like to call this class Life 101,” Copeland wrote in a Facebook post announcing his new teaching gig in late-October. “This course covers the realities of life we all have to deal with regardless of what we major in or what profession we choose.”