Taliaferro fights back from catastrophic injury to launch law career
Adam Taliaferro suffered a career-ending spinal cord injury playing football for Penn State in 2000, but that led to the start of another career. Taliaferro has gone on to graduate from Penn State, earn a law degree from Rutgers and start the Adam Taliaferro Foundation to help people with similar injuries, and he is now beginning his law career with a firm in Philadelphia with aspirations of working in sports legal representation. Taliaferro spoke with Sports Business Journal staff writer Brandon McClung.
New title: First-year associate, Montgomery, McCracken Walker & Rhoads
First job: Camp counselor at a Philadelphia 76ers camp
College education: Bachelor of science, labor and industrial relations, Penn State (2005); Juris Doctor, Rutgers School of Law, (2008)
Resides: Winslow Township, N.J.
Grew up: Voorhees Township, N.J.
Executive most admired: Joe Paterno
Brand most admired: Nike
Favorite vacation spot: Las Vegas
Last book read: “Being Sugar Ray: The Life of Sugar Ray Robinson, America’s Greatest Boxer and the First Celebrity Athlete” by Kenneth Shropshire
Last movie seen: “August Rush”
Favorite movie: “Old School”
Favorite musician: Jay-Z
Talk about your foundation and life since the injury.
The main mission of the foundation is to raise money and awareness and provide financial and emotional support for anyone with a spinal cord injury. We host an annual high school all-star game, which is our biggest fundraiser, and have raised over $300,000. After the injury I realized it was time to make some life decisions, so I sat down with Coach Paterno, and our academic advisers thought maybe law was the best route for me. That first summer I had an internship at the NFLPA. I worked in agent administration and thought I might like to be a sports attorney.
What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
Making the transition from law student to an actual practicing attorney. You are no longer dealing with the hypothetical, you have real-life situations and you have expectations that are put on you. Another thing is time requirements. I like to do a lot with my foundation and charitable activities, but I have to learn to balance that with the expectations of being a law associate.
What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
When I was injured Coach Paterno said he wanted me to lead the team out of the tunnel the next season and I thought he was crazy. When the time came, we were playing Miami, I had only been walking for about seven months and as I was walking down the tunnel and saw the hundred thousand people in the stands, I said to myself that I was going to try and run. My doctors had advised against running, but I got that adrenaline and I thought I could do it. The big risk was that I could fall and injure myself. It is something I will probably never be able to do again, but it was a risk well worth taking.
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