Lonie Paxton grew up in the Southern California town of Corona and his father was a season ticket holder at the time for the Los Angeles Rams. He remembers going to Rams games with his dad, but his dad wasn’t much for tailgating. Instead, they would go into the stadium early and see all of the fanfare before the games, listen to the bands, and watch the warmups. As they watched one of the pregame activities together, Lonie’s dad pointed out the long snapper and he remembers his dad casually saying “that guy has made a career out of what he does.” That moment stuck with Lonie throughout his playing career.
Through his childhood, Lonie had been a talented thrower, both with a football and in baseball, so when he got to high school and his coach said they needed someone to play long snapper, he volunteered. So along with being the utility guy along the offensive line filling in at multiple positions, Lonie picked up long snapping and credits this to helping him reach the next level. As his high school years came to a close, he was initially downhearted when he wasn’t receiving offers to play at the collegiate level but ended up receiving the chance from Sacramento State. “Sometimes it just comes down to being willing to take an opportunity, not necessarily waiting for the best one,” says Paxton, “and taking that first opportunity got me to where I am today.”
Opportunities never stop presenting themselves throughout a person’s life. During Lonie’s playing career, the world was much different than it is for athletes today. There weren’t as many opportunities to connect with fans or brands instantly, and to do so it took attending events and making appearances. Each opportunity can lead to something greater, and sometimes it shouldn’t be about the money that can be earned through a partnership or ambassador program, but should be weighed on the exchange in value that is provided. “I know it is hard for an athlete to think about the end of their playing career while playing; it feels like the career has just started,” says Paxton, “but one thing I’ve learned is that it starts now. It is easy to focus on the now, but laying the building blocks for future endeavors and leaving building throughout a playing career makes it much more attainable.”
Growing up in Southern California, Lonie always had a passion and affinity for action sports and that culture, and even wanted to work for Red Bull directly out of college before he found out he was going to play professional football. As a result of reaching out in college, he got a contact there and continued to nurture that relationship. As he continued to build his own brand and progres in his career, Red Bull would invite him to speak at events such as the X-Games, and he built a lifelong friendship with the VP of Sports Marketing at the time, Paul Crandell. As Lonie’s playing career was coming to an end and while he was playing in Denver, Paul left Red Bull to become the VP of Marketing at GoPro. This relationship ultimately led to Lonie joining the GoPro team after retiring from the NFL.
“Playing team sports has taught me a lot of things and helped prepare me for my life after the NFL,” says Paxton. “When you put the team first, do your job, work hard, and be accountable and attentive, the team will succeed. Another important lesson I learned from playing that has translated into a career outside of sports is the value of relationships and trying to understand them better. With a team, you have a group of individuals who are all very different and have different opinions but you find that common goal or common ground that unites you and brings you together. It is the same idea that makes a business team successful. Appreciate others for who they are and their differences and their unique strengths.”
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