From the NFL to CrossFit: Rashad Barksdale Talks Career Change into Athlete Management

December 13, 2022 by
Courtesy of Rashad Barksdale
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Rashad Barksdale remembers the challenges of being an elite athlete. 

After being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007, he was bounced around to various other teams throughout his short career in the NFL, and along the way he noticed a serious lack of genuine care between managers and their athletes.

“I saw with football that people were often just a number in the agency, and there was no connection,” said Barksdale, now 38, the owner of Mind Over Matter MGMT, an athlete management company he founded last May.

This is why his vision for Mind Over Matter is to forge true relationships with his athletes, to show his athletes he cares about them as human beings, and with the ultimate goal being to help them “build a table big enough so that everyone can eat,” he explained. 

“We want to take off as much stress as possible so they can compete to the best of their capacities,” Barksdale added.

So far, so good: In just six months, Barksdale and his business partner Kenya Clark—a former Division I college basketball player—represent nine CrossFit athletes, including CrossFit Games athletes Kristine Best and Meg Reardon.

Best, as well as two of his other athletes—two-time Semifinals athlete Leo Franco and Gabby McClelland, who was seventh at the 2022 Syndicate Crown Semifinals—will be competing at the upcoming Wodapalooza in Miami, FL.

Courtesy of Rashad Barksdale

Mind Over Matter’s Journey

When Barksdale retired from football, he started CrossFit “just to stay active,” he explained. But as he got into it, his competitive nature soon kicked in and he found himself wanting to compete at the CrossFit Games.

Soon, though, he realized, “It’s a lot harder to get to the Games than I thought,” he said, laughing.

Then last year, as he was struggling through the gruelling deadlift and burpee workout during the Open, he had one of those humbling, “This is stupid. I hate CrossFit” moments that any CrossFit athlete can relate to.

Frustrated that he wasn’t as fit as he wanted to be, Barksdale put his ego aside and decided he doesn’t hate CrossFit, and that he actually has a lot to offer other elite CrossFit athletes looking to turn it into a professional career. 

That’s when he decided he wanted to start an athlete management company.

First, he reached out to well-known athlete managers like Cooper Marsh and Benji Hull, both of whom gave him some valuable advice.

“After that I was going to sit on it and think about it for six months,” Barksdale said. But he didn’t last six months, because something told him to go for it.

“So I said, ‘You know what, I’m just going to give it a shot,’” he explained. 

Since then, Mind Over Matter has been working hard to help their athletes build their brands and social media presence and gain monetary and product sponsorships, the ultimate goal being to reduce stress so they can perform at their best, Barksdale explained, adding that he has been leaning on what he learned through his days playing professional football.

“Football has helped me be on the same page as these athletes. I know what things should look like, what it is they need and the importance of being prepared,” he said. “It’s a lot of behind the scenes work…almost like being a secretary to make sure the athlete is taken care of.”

Just six months in, Barksdale said he couldn’t be happier with how quickly he has been able to grow his book of athletes, but he has bigger plans for the company. 

“In three years, I want this to be my full-time job. I want to continue to build our team of athletes. But we’re about quality, not quantity. I want to make sure we’re genuinely able to care about our athletes, so they know they’re not just a number,” he said.

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