He was hanging out with comedians in New York while the Jaguars searched for a new defensive coordinator.
He was lounging in an Icelandic geothermal pool and experiencing Holland for a third time while his bosses formulated their free-agent plan.
He received beach-side acupuncture treatments in the Dominican Republic while his coaches needed skywalks to get around cold and rainy Indianapolis at the Scouting Combine.
And he met with a movie producer in Los Angeles while the Jaguars acquired significant defensive help.
Welcome to defensive end Jared Odrick’s offseason or, as he calls it, his “mini-retirement.”
He traveled to four countries. He had pizza in Manhattan and fries and mayonnaise in Amsterdam. He acted in an HBO series and an independent movie. And he took myriad pictures — just check out his Instagram account (maxbaer75).
Forget about “Where’s Waldo?” This was “Where’s J.O.?”
There were two clear goals for Odrick: Have fun, which he did, and began to crystalize his post-NFL career plan, which he has.
Flipping open his iPhone inside the Jaguars’ locker room last week, Odrick recited his 2016 offseason mission statement, excerpted from Ryan Holiday’s book, “The Obstacles Is The Way.”
“You will be so much better following the lead of Anderson’s counterexample. Someone who is willing to try not one thing, but all professions — who teams it, who farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township and so forth in successive years and always, like a cat, lands on his feet.”
Odrick provides his personal translation.
“This is going to end,” he says of his life as a player. “Once you put a few years into the league, you start to realize, in order to actually set yourself up for life without football, it can’t be just lip service.
“I really felt like this offseason, I took the most advantage of my time in terms of traveling and putting myself in different rooms where I have to operate like a normal person and not on the platform of, ‘Current football player.’”
Odrick uses his hands to mimic a roller coaster, which coincidently, is the title of an award-winning short film he helped finance last fall.
“I don’t want there to be this,” he says, waving right hand downward. “I want there to be this [a smaller valley]and then try and go from there.”
Odrick was on the go all right this offseason. He is the Jaguars’ renaissance man.
“That’s what they say, and I see it,” new teammate Malik Jackson says. “His sayings, how he is, how he sits back and [tugs]his beard. Definitely a guy who has some wisdom to him.”
Wisdom acquired through life experiences … and that was just the last five months.
New York (early January): “I hung out with a friend from my hometown [Lebanon, Pa.],” Odrick says. “We met up with a few comedians that I know in New York. One was Ricky Velez from, ‘The Nightly Show.’ We met a few other comedians and hung out — that was my decompression. Have a few drinks, and have some pizza that I didn’t have all season.”
Miami (late January): “I did two scenes for [the HBO show]‘Ballers,’” Odrick says. “It was probably more fun than the first season because I knew what I was getting into — the cast and crew were the same and because I knew what to expect, I felt I could be more professional on-set and enjoy myself more instead of being nervous.”
Living the Canadian life:
Odrick’s home base throughout his travels is Toronto.
He has spent parts of several offseasons in the sprawling city but took a big step this year by purchasing a house (he rents in Jacksonville). He has invested $200,000 the last two years for his team of trainers and physical therapists who help him recover from and prepare for an NFL season.
What attracted Odrick to training in Canada is doing things with a circle of people surrounding him with his best interests in mind and also, he says, the nation’s superior food guidelines.
“There is an optimal way of doing things,” says Odrick, who has played in 81 games, including all 16 for the Jaguars last year. “There’s a difference between training to [achieve]optimum functioning ability and ‘Tough Guy Workouts.’ I have my own team. Every single-player sport — tennis, cycling, boxing — what do you see? You see groups of people around them that they use to protect them, which is their business. This is my business.”
Odrick long ago abandoned the modus operandi of most players, who spend the offseasons training at the team facility or spending the winter in places like Miami and Arizona with groups of other players in favor of experiencing the Canadian culture and doing his own thing.
“In America, from training to therapy [for personal trainers], it’s, ‘How many athletes can I rack up and put their jerseys on my wall and then get more people in and more money?’ as opposed to, ‘How much can I learn to attract the type of clients I want and actually help people with the knowledge I’ve [obtained]?’” Odrick says. “The football culture is generally more busy work.”
Odrick also feels the food regulations in Canada help him prepare for an NFL season.
“The standard of the food and what can be served across the board in Canada is better than what it is in America,” he says. “They’re bull [bleep]in America — they can serve whatever the hell they want. Your meats, your vegetables — everything is healthier in Canada.”
The Jaguars were pleased with Odrick’s fitness when he returned to town in late May.
“He really took care of his body well,” defensive coordinator Todd Wash says. “He came back this year, and it’s like he didn’t even miss anything [training time under the Jaguars’ supervision].”
Reykjavik, Iceland (early February): “I always wanted to go to Iceland,” Odrick says. “Just a foreign landscape I wanted to see — it was very extraterrestrial and moon-like. I wanted to pick somewhere cool where I could see natural land formations and a different culture in general and hopefully the northern lights, which I did. And I wanted to do that by myself because I had never traveled abroad solo. It was pretty cool.”
Amsterdam (early February): “They have great museums and art,” Odrick says. “They have the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. I like the culture.”
Take a pass by Odrick’s locker and you’re sure to be engaged in a conversation. It can be about music and movies, journalism or politics. The same when walking out to the practice field or back into the stadium. Interesting people like talking to other people.
In the United States, when Odrick is in public, the topic is almost always pro football. What intrigues Odrick about Europe is being part of the crowd.
“What I like about Amsterdam is its social freedoms,” he says. “There are things here that are so taboo to talk about that aren’t there, and you have people with money and people without money participating.”
“Anything from sex to drug use to appearance,” Odrick says. “In some areas of America, you can still go certain places and get looked at in certain ways. Over there, you can have regular conversations before it comes up that you play in the NFL. If that comes up, then usually the conversation turns back to that because American football is so large over there and bet on over there that people then want to engage about it.
“But I enjoy being able to have a regular conversation as opposed to everything reverting back to football. In Europe, I’m just another dude who’s bigger than everybody else”
Dominican Republic (late February): “That was a vacation,” Odrick says. “I flew my mom, my physical therapist and one of my trainers down. I got treatment and dry-needling when I was there, I was on the beach drinking the Dominican beer — Presidente — I always have down there. I enjoy being around the people who help me. We’ve become great friends.”
Los Angeles (late March): “I had always dreamed of going to L.A. since I played in the Rose Bowl, but back then, I didn’t have any change in my pocket to do anything,” Odrick says. “I rented a house, found a trainer and met with a few producers. I made it productive and didn’t miss a sunset. I was in the West Hollywood Hills and would go to Venice or Santa Monica every night to catch the sunset.”
Building a second career:
The previous trips? Leisure.
The two weeks in greater Los Angeles? Leisure, training and making more entertainment industry connections.
When Odrick retires, the sports networks are bound to throw money at him to sit in front of their cameras and provide NFL opinions. The thing is, he is more likely to be behind a movie camera as a producer or in front of it playing a character.
Odrick funded the editing — and was given an executive producer credit — for “Roller Coaster,” directed by Bradley Hawkins, who taught Odrick’s high school film class in Pennsylvania. The movie centers around the lead actress (Sarah Hawkins) who struggles to get into show business. The 15-minute production is short on dialogue and heavy on impressive editing.
“Roller Coaster” debuted at film festivals last fall, winning five awards at the IndieFest Film Awards and four at the International Independent Film Festival.
Odrick is an executive producer and acts in an upcoming short titled, “Filling In,” which was filmed in Rochester, N.Y. His character, Kevin, is a former football player.
“It’s about a disgruntled, older man that wants to retire and he needs to find a replacement,” Odrick explains. “I’m the guy who is down on his luck and can’t really find things that work for him. His mother was an example of what hard work was and how to be a consummate professional. He just feels [inferior]compared to his mother.”
“Filling In” is expected to hit the independent film trail after the football season so Odrick can participate in the junkets.
With those experiences in his portfolio, Odrick met with veteran movie producer Joe Roth, whose resume includes chairmanships at Twentieth Century Fox and Walt Disney and whose credits include “Bachelor Party,” “Major League,” “Young Guns” and “Million Dollar Arm.” Roth asked Odrick to audition for the upcoming movie “XXX: The Return Of Xander Cage,” starring Vin Diesel and Samuel L. Jackson.
“The casting director enjoyed my audition and said I definitely needed an agent,” Odrick says. “The audition materialized in an agency willing to represent me and speak about hiatus [offseason]projects.”
But when he returned to Jacksonville, it is all football for Odrick.
During the interview, he stressed the separation between his out-of-season and in-season approaches.
“That’s why I want to make use of the [offseason]time to think about those things,” he says. “Because during the season, I will be immersed in being a football player.”