EMBA ’23

Robert Griffith, EMBA '23 smiling
Photo by Jack McCoy
Throughout his career, Minnesota Vikings safety Robert Griffith, EMBA ’23, was recognized by the NFL for his finesse on the field. In addition to his success as a professional athlete, Griffith is a savvy business consultant, manager of a minority-owned global project fund, and founder of a nonprofit organization that awards college scholarships to underprivileged high school students.

Now retired from the NFL, Griffith recently completed the Executive MBA program at the Gabelli School to further advance his business career and deliver more scholarships through the Robert Griffith Foundation. His story is so inspiring that when he graduated in May, Griffith was interviewed by CBS News New York about his latest achievement.

“I’ve been a team captain for over a decade, and managing people in that setting was a lot different than being able to do that in a corporate setting,” he said in the interview. “I wanted to develop those skills to be able to articulate them in the workplace.”

Education has always been important to Griffith. His mother was a primary school teacher in San Diego, California, where he played college football and earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at San Diego State University.

I felt like I was at halftime and coming out of the proverbial locker room for the second half of my life.“

As a safety in the NFL in the mid-1990s, he played for the Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, and Arizona Cardinals over 13 seasons. Griffith was named an All-Pro player and was also selected for the Pro Bowl. He was awarded the NFLPA Unsung Hero Award in recognition of his work with the NFL Players Association, where he helped negotiate fair benefits for current and former NFL players.

“We turned ourselves from employees to partners. I feel strongly about being a part of the [association] and promoting that we built the league, and really going after our fair share,” he said. “I was a part of [establishing] medical savings accounts and a health network so any player who played two or more years can walk outside of their front door and go to a doctor within a half mile. I’m really proud of that.”

His experience with the NFLPA primed him for brokering deals for former athletes and player unions in his business consultancy that he has since expanded to include firms in the technology and wellness sectors. Griffith is also an entrepreneur, an investor in and board member of several organizations, and manager of the Purple 24 Fund.

Recently named among Poets&Quants’ 2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA graduates, Griffith credits Francis Petit, Ed.D., Executive MBA program director and associate dean for global initiatives and partnerships, along with his professors and peers, for making his experience a game-changer.

One of Griffith’s most meaningful memories of business school was the capstone course, Jesuit History and Leadership Culture, held in Spain. He and 16 members of his cohort followed in the steps of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a journey that helped him gain clarity on the future.

“I felt like I was at halftime and coming out of the proverbial locker room for the second half of my life,” Griffith said. “I not only got to experience and see the beautiful countryside of Spain, but I also got a chance to clean my brain space and get a lot of hard work done.”

—Claire Curry and Gabrielle Simonson