Image: D’Brickshaw Ferguson
New York Jets fans who need healthcare in the future may just get the surprise of a lifetime when they run into the newest nurse in town: Former Jets player D’Brickshaw Ferguson, 39, is heading to nursing school to pursue his dream of giving back.
Affectionately known as “D’Brick” or “Brick,” Ferguson played for the Jets on the offensive line from 2006 to 2015.
Ferguson announced his decision to enroll in nursing school on the NFL Players: Second Acts Podcast and explained what prompted him to head from the field to the hospital floor.
Ferguson’s interest in healthcare may be traced back to his childhood when he underwent open heart surgery as a child. Although he was initially told he would never be allowed to play any sports at all, Ferguson’s surgery at 9 years old changed his life.
In junior high, his medical team removed all physical activity restrictions, opening the door to him becoming the athlete he is today.
“My mother’s face?” Ferguson told The Middletown Press with a smile. “Priceless.”
That moment sparked Ferguson’s eventual football career, going from a breakout high school star to playing football as a Cavalier at the University of Virginia, where he graduated early with a religious studies degree.
He emphasized during the podcast interview that he has “always been a curious athlete.” For example, in addition to playing football, he participated in ice skating, hockey, and mastered Shotokan karate (black belt) and Taekwondo (brown belt).
After retiring from the NFL in 2016, Ferguson’s curiosity saw him continuing his education. He enrolled in a Columbia University executive education program with a focus on angel investing.
He ventured into the investment industry, concentrating on sustainability and impact investing. However, as he noted on the podcast, he wasn’t ever able to quite find what he was looking for as his purpose in life—until now.
“I’m like, ‘Well, I still have to find myself. I’m still alive, right?’ I still have a purpose. Yes, I played football. Yes, I had a great career, but what am I today?” he said in the podcast.
What he is today, is a nursing student. As Ferguson heads to nursing school, where he may just find the purpose he’s been searching for all along, he gave a nod to his mother, who first introduced him to the idea of becoming a nurse.
A nurse herself, Ferguson’s mother highlighted to her son how many different opportunities there are to pursue in nursing.
“One thing that she liked about nursing was the opportunity to learn a new space. But you can also learn a lot of different spaces,” he explained in the podcast.
Like many aspiring nursing students, Ferguson did his prerequisites “one class at a time” at a local community college.
He admitted that it had been a long time since he had been a student of the sciences, so he was nervous, but he was accepted into several nursing programs, and he is planning to start classes this fall 2023.
“I just needed that sense of, ‘I think I can do this,’” Ferguson said. “I wanted something that I could offer. Like, yes I play football, but I have this. I’m qualified to do this work and I play football. So if both of them help or encourage one another, great. But even without football I can still do my job with excellence, that’s something we learned as athletes.”
Ferguson said on the podcast that he’s unsure exactly what type of nursing he will end up doing. He considered going all the way through to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) but also noted that he could see himself staying as a floor nurse in an urgent care setting.
“I like that I have the ability to learn and figure that part out,” he said, adding that he probably doesn’t see travel nursing in his future, since he also has a family.
But no matter what the future holds for him, Ferguson reflected on how the lessons he learned as an athlete have only fueled this “second stage” in his life. He explained that it’s his goal to do his job—whether that be taking care of patients or serving his teammates as a football player—he only hopes to do that job to the best of his ability.
“I wanted something that I could offer,” he said. “Yes, I played football, but I have this. I’m qualified to do this work. And I played football. So if both of them help or, you know, encourage one another, great, but even without football, I can still do my job with excellence. And that’s something we learned as athletes.”