Northern Arizona University alumnus Travis Brown knows what it means to stay cool under pressure. As starting quarterback for the football team from 1996–99, Brown shattered multiple offensive records for the Lumberjacks, and ended up as the school's all-time leader in several categories, including touchdowns, total offensive yards, and passing yards. Now, though, Brown uses his ability to excel in high-pressure situations to the service of others. A married father of five, he has multiple professional roles: he tutors future quarterbacks—working with everyone from grade-school children to future NFL quarterbacks. Brown also runs a Phoenix-based youth football league for more than 1,500 children, and owns and operates Armored Assets, a background check company. In all these roles, Brown says he is driven by the ability to combine service with passion.
"I enjoy all my roles differently," says Brown. "Obviously, the quarterback instruction is something I have a lot of passion for: I love doing camps, and being able to help kids. I love helping with the football league, as well, because it provides access to the bigger scope of the game and everything that goes into it. And it's been really cool to build my own business, and start something from the ground up and watch it grow."
According to Brown, the path to his own personal and professional growth began when he moved to Flagstaff. The university, he says, had always been his destination of choice. Growing up in Phoenix, he liked the distance between Flagstaff and his hometown: it was far enough away to foster independence, he says, but close enough for him to see his family on regular occasions. And, Brown says, the relationships he forged during his time at the university more than confirmed the fact that he made the right decision.
I met my wife at the university—we have five kids now, and have been married almost ten years," he says. "From a football standpoint, we beat Montana at home in 1997, and made it to the playoffs, which really stands out. The thing I miss the most—and took the most from—are the relationships (with my teammates), and the interactions in the locker room and the huddle."
Once he graduated, though, he established a whole new series of relationships as a quarterback in the NFL. For Brown, who was inducted into the Northern Arizona University athletic hall of fame in 2004, playing at such a high level was a dream come true. During his six-year career, Brown played with superstars like Peyton Manning and Drew Bledsoe. Along the way, he learned some key lessons for succeeding as an NFL player.
"As an undrafted player, I had to go above and beyond in terms of knowing what to do and being able to do it," he says. "I had to work hard, and bring a little extra to the table in terms of locker room presence and work ethic. As a quarterback, you have so many irons in the fire, and can really influence the direction the team is going: so I had to be well-rounded, willing to work, and willing to put in something extra."
Now, four years after leaving the NFL, Brown puts those lessons to good use. Recently, he has been sought out by potential NFL quarterbacks for pre-draft mentorship: during the past year, he has helped two quarterbacks follow their own professional dreams. And, Brown says, he takes the same "well-rounded" approach to mentoring future stars that he took during his playing days.
"No matter what level a quarterback is at, I've been in their shoes," he says. "I understand where they're walking, where they're going, and what's going to be happening to them—both good and bad. I try to give them a little bit of insight into what they're going through, and what they're about to go through."
Through all his professional roles, however—as quarterback coach, youth football league director, and entrepreneur—Brown remains thankful for the preparation he received as a university student-athlete.
"NAU opened so many doors for me," he says. "Spending four years in Flagstaff really gave me a foundation, and gave me the confidence I needed to succeed in the real world."