In today’s episode, our guest is Joe Hawley, a former American football center who played for the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League (NFL). Hawley spent eight years in the NFL and retired after becoming a free agent in 2018 to pursue a passion project. He donated most of his belongings to Metropolitan Ministries of Tampa Bay and lived out of a custom diesel cargo van as he explores the country with his rescue dog. And today, he is going to share with us how he transitioned from being an NFL player to live out in a van and the journey to becoming a father. 

[07:28] Why should we listen to you?

I try to practice being as present as possible. What I’ve learned a lot about is trusting. I learned to trust things when I was on the road. When I was playing football, I created this identity. I played football for 16 years, eight years in the NFL. And when the decision finally came for me, I felt this calling to walk away from the game. There’s so much that goes into performing at such a high level all the time. The physical trauma, emotional and mental stress, and then I finally decided to walk away, which led me to decide to give away all my things to charity. 

[09:32] I bought a van, and I traveled the country trying to figure out who I was without the story that I’ve created for myself. These are the transitions and opportunities to reshape the story of who we are. I genuinely believe that courageous people step into their calling and dare to step into the unknown. 

[11:06] What was like the internal battle to do that?

It was a challenging experience. My fiance was not supportive of my decision. Sharing the decision with the person that was supposed to support me and love me became a problem. She worries if we had enough money. The decision isolated me, and it made me feel alone. I didn’t have a lot of support. I didn’t feel grounded anywhere. 


The most beautiful part about being on the road is constantly going into the unknown. It forces you to be acutely present at the moment as it unfolds in front of you.

[13:44] What’s the new transition feels like?

It was very divine timing for me. There is a lot of processing that goes into grieving, just like I did with football. There’s this grieving process and letting go of this old story of who I was. And I have this beautiful child to take care of and my wife. It’s tricky to process and work through that. 

[15:35] I am stoked about being a dad. It allows the opportunity to experience growth that I think I can’t get anywhere else. I think becoming a father is the next step that you can’t be fully prepared for. 

[17:53] What was the initial spark for this idea?

There’s nothing that prepares you for all the unique challenges in your life. That led me to decide to travel the country with my van and find out who wasn’t when I was on the road. Meeting a lot of people, and joining different mastermind communities, had a profound impact on myself-development. 

[22:38] What lesson is doing this teaching? 

The journey of an entrepreneur is just a self-development journey. It challenges us to step up and grow. They’ve done it in their entire lives and work through that stuff to focus on what they can do. Providing that support and that container for them to reach those levels and figure out who they are and what they’re meant to be doing.

[25:42] What promise did God make to the world when He created you?

To be a man that has a big heart and is of service.


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Written by : Anthony Trucks

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