NJ DISCOVER EXCLUSIVE: Conversations with TIM WRIGHT-Rutgers Football, NFL, (Tampa Bay, Detroit, Kansas City), New England Patriots (Super Bowl ring), Business-The Wright Cut AND NOW changing the way people will listen to music/sound forever-DOME AUDIO (headphones) by Calvin Schwartz February 11th 2020
A big title to this article/interview. Timothy (Tim) is a big man, 6’ 4” thinker, Christian, philanthropist, athlete, family man, futurist, leader, businessman, mover, shaker and so enthralling to listen to for hours on end.
As I do in most of my interviews; the story to the story. Those forces which brought Tim and me together. Cut to five years ago. Tim, an NFL player, was giving back to the community by establishing The Wright Way Academy, Friday Night Lights Camp, teaching kids about life, academics and athletics. A public relations specialist, Tonya Payton (smiling down on all this now) knew of my work at NJ Discover and thought a good fit story for me. And it was. One of those top ten days absorbing NFL players (including Mohamed Sanu) giving back to impressionable youth of New Jersey shore communities. Three months later, Tim was one of our first guests on NJ Discover Live TV Show.
A few weeks ago, Tim messaged me and thought it was time for Act Two, especially as my journalistic/social media audience has grown dramatically and because he’s at the precipice of changing the way people listen to music forever or at least a hundred years.
Cut to the ‘Green Room’ or, otherwise known as my kitchen table, late afternoon. A fresh pizza awaiting oven warming. You could faintly hear the drizzle of the rain outside. My wife, close by. The magnetism of our guest brought her downstairs.
“Tim, best to start at beginning. And I know we’ll find endless tangents.” “I was born in Neptune, New Jersey and stayed in schools there through my sophomore high year… played football and basketball, then transferred to Wall High School for my junior and senior year.” He hesitated a moment, smiling, adding, “An interesting sociology going from a mostly black high school at Neptune to mostly white at Wall.”
In our conversations leading up to tonight, Tim and I expounded on our spiritual commonality, connections. He explained the powers of destiny that brought him to Rutgers. For me it was surreal, haunting. Tim was born on Rutgers Street in Neptune. Neptune High are the Scarlet Flyers. Wall High are Crimson Knights. Rutgers is the Scarlet Knights. And Tonya Payton, the PR person for Jay Z for ten years when he started, introduced Tim to Ben White, founder of DOME Audio, who was working on performance eyewear back then. I came from the eyewear business. A thickening plot.
Tim added more about the Rutgers destiny. “When I was 13 and played for Pop Warner football, there was a contest. Names of the players were dropped in a hat. One name was picked to go to Rutgers, take action pictures on the field. I won that. I caught a ball that was thrown to me. Coach Schiano said, “How would you like to play here one day?” Yes, the Rutgers destiny was in my DNA.”
“Now, how I got into the haircutting realm. My grandfather and most of the men in my Dad’s family, including my Dad, were haircutters. When I was 13, my Dad took me every two weeks to the barber. Once I broke out in a rash; it was a bad haircut. My Dad decided to cut my hair. Eventually, I used clippers to cut my own hair and then friends in the neighborhood. At Rutgers, I had regular students coming for haircuts in the dorm… I became a full-time barber cutting coaches, kids and teammates. Destiny again.”
In celebration of Black History Month, The Wright Cut is the first Black owned Barbershop & Hair Salon establishment located directly on any major University campus in the nation. Tim proudly mentioned, “We’ve had 30,000 transactions since we opened, representing 10,000 different customers… six barbers are on staff, five full time and eight chairs. Geo (Baker from Men’s Basketball team) goes there… Everything is automated… I go there a couple of times a week.”
A consumptive smile evolved. “My wife, Jodi-Ann Wright was my high school sweetheart… From my freshman to sophomore years, she was the football manager… I was a quarterback then…her energy and presence so very special… her phone was lying on the bleachers, so I put my number into her phone… She was a senior; I was a soph… She actually called me to take her sister out, turns out, Jodi and I spoke on the phone for three hours that night; the rest is history… Both our families live in Neptune and are very close.” My wife interjected, “It must be so special at holiday time.”
The wife story is so amazing. I thought this could be a movie one day especially when DOME Audio reaches the stratosphere and it will! Tim shook his head, a little disbelief, pride. “John Paxton, from Rutgers, who has a production company, (Freebird Media Group) made a documentary of my life, ‘The Wright Destiny.’ My Mom, Dad, Jodi, mentor, attorney, coaches from high school and college and team members are interviewed. We showed the film at Rutgers Cinema.”
Tim corrected me. I kept referring to him as a tight end. But he was an athlete in high school. I asked how he came to transfer to Wall High School. “Coach Walsh from Neptune had supposedly resigned. Months went by without a coach. Finally, a new coach and one day, he gave me a ride home, praising me. Then he leaves. Several more weeks without a coach, so in May, 2006, I transferred to Wall… My mom lived in Wall, so it was seamless… the president of Pop Warner’s son was the quarterback, so the coach told me I was an unbelievable talent that should play every other position that touched the ball… And I played defense-corner and safety too.”
For me, an obsessive, loyal, loving, Rutgers alum and sports fanatic, listening to Tim Wright, a former Rutgers and NFL player, sitting around my kitchen table, was not short of, but way into nirvana. Logically, I wanted to know how, when, did Rutgers football come into his life. Tim said, “I had 12 full-ride offers. Rutgers was first choice. UConn second… I was ranked one of best players in Jersey… I was an athlete (can do many things) coming in… Coach Schiano chose me to play wide receiver and red-shirted me my first year due to several star wide receivers finishing their final season.” Tim majored in Criminal Justice and minored in Sociology.
In Tim’s sophomore year, first year as a player, Rutgers offense went to Wildcat, which meant Mohamed Sanu (now with NE Patriots) was the Wildcat quarterback. “I was a blocking wide receiver and caught no passes.” In his sophomore off season, he drove almost every day from Neptune to the Rutgers training bubble to workout. In the spring, 2010, he was the Most Improved Offensive Player, but during the fifth practice in training camp, tore his ACL. “Coach Schiano was so hurt.”
I mentioned #52 Eric LeGrand. Exuberantly, Tim said, “Eric was my roommate… we played together in the New Jersey-New York All Star game.”
I asked about Junior year. “I caught 11 passes and two touchdowns and was captain for several games.” I set up the next question because I was appointed to the Advisory Board of Women’s Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and have been to lectures on concussions and after football health issues. “Tim, would you encourage, discourage your two sons from playing football?” A deep contemplative response. “I’d encourage them to do what they love.”
In his Senior year at Rutgers football, he was voted solo Offensive Captain. That year he had 39 catches and two touchdowns. Then the NFL draft process. The Oakland Raiders flew Tim out, discussing possible draft talks. A number of NFL teams were interested. Then Coach Greg Schiano now from Tampa Bay Buccaneers called. Did these other teams have a plan for you? Half of Rutgers coaches were now at Tampa Bay, so Tim chose Tampa and was reunited for his rookie year. When he arrived in Tampa Bay, he was a 220 pound 6’4” wide receiver. He got a text from coach. “Meet me.” Coach felt his best chance to make the team was to switch to tight end, so he did.
“During OTA’s (Organized Team Activity) I had to gain 15 pounds… Jodi found a place to live in Tampa… So, I was seventh on the depth chart (top two make team) … My speed, route running, and ability was a blessing… agile, good pass catcher, patterns, could out-run everybody, but in this new position, had to block… Training camp, I moved up to sixth, then fifth, fourth and a guy sprained an ankle so I was in the top three… Made the team on special teams… on third down, I was a pass catcher… In the fourth game, I made four catches.”
Tim looked serious for the first time this night. “Literally, the ways the odds were stacked, I should not have made the NFL.” In the fifth game, he scored a touchdown. Five touchdowns his rookie season which set a team record. “I was popular and on billboards.”
After the last game, there was a final meeting. Tampa Bay had the worst record in the NFL. Five minutes later, the whole coaching staff were relieved of their duties. He continued to train hard for his second year. Two days before final cuts, he saw the GM on the field and knew many were getting cut. He got the “appreciate everything speech” and “We are trading you to New England.”
In his position, New England had All Star Rob Gronkowski and year prior Aaron Hernandez who was no longer with the team. Tim’s family moved to Mansfield near Foxboro. Tim hit the ground running scoring six touchdowns. The season after New England winning the Super Bowl, during OTA’s, at the seventh practice, he felt something strange. “The coach wants to speak to you.” He knew his time with New England was likely over. There is a three-year waiver in the NFL. Tampa Bay brought him back briefly then traded him to Detroit. “It’s a tough unstable life.” He scored two touchdowns with Detroit.
In year four of his NFL career, off-season, he worked so very hard, wind sprints, film study, weights, everything. In the first practice of OTA’s, he tore his ACL. Tim and I have gone through fascinating discoveries of our shared synchronicities. Strange positive forces have brought us and keep us together. Spiritual stuff; we know. So, the doctor at Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC who wondrously fixed Tim’s ACL, Dr. David Altchek, is the same doctor who did my two meniscectomies and my new titanium artificial shoulder. Small world. And no, I never played football.
For Tim, the injury and recovery were a blessing in disguise. He started the Wright Cut with vision and resources. In February, he began the process and in May, the month he tore his ACL, he was able to recover at home and bring his business to life, being there for every step. On September 20, 2016, The Wright Cut opened. When the NFL 2016 season ended, he was a free agent. One week into 2017 training camp, Detroit called and asked if he was ready. He excelled. There was a scrimmage in Indianapolis. He pulled his adductor muscle. Then his hamstring. They all knew how hard he worked. Next day he couldn’t walk. Out two weeks. “Funny, there was a pre-season game against New England Patriots… I made three big time catches…Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, and Rob Gronkowski were cheering for me on the sidelines… Tight end coach said I was ready.”
Next day, the coach wanted to see him. He was released and flew home to Jersey. The rest of the 2017 season, he didn’t get signed. On the day after his birthday, April 8, 2018, the Kansas City Chiefs called him in for a workout. He excelled again. Andy Reid praised him. So, Jodi-Ann packed up the two kids and moved to Missouri. The family loved it there. Tim was ultimately released after training camp. They barely played him last game. For the final time, his sons played on the field. The blessing for Tim through all of this disappointment was his business, The Wright Cut, back in Jersey, while DOME Audio and changing the music world awaited. “I’m a trend setter, a leader, a business leader. I knew NFL football stands for “Not For Long,” so I channeled all my energy into business… By 2019, I worked on DOME and managed the barbershop.”
Tim’s wife Jodi-Ann was pregnant with their daughter Skylar, sister to older sons Major and Maison. Major’s name was inspired by 2008 National Championship game with Major Wright (no relation) from Florida Gators.
I was finishing the crust of two pizza slices when the time of day hit me. “Tim, a lot of hours just happened. A few quick fun questions. Basically, one-word answers.”
“Fire away, Calvin.”
“Tim, five things you can’t live without.”
He laughed. It took a second to respond. “My hair clippers, God, Family, music and my sharp mind.”
“Living or Dead, someone you’d like to have dinner with?”
“Before I leave this Earth, I won’t be satisfied until I……………?”
“Travel the world, impact people with who I am.”
We had completely wound down. The sun long gone. After a brief interlude at my computer and social media world including the wonderful world of LinkedIn, Tim was ready to head home. But I stopped him, near the front door and ran back for a DVD of the movie ‘North Dallas Forty.’ A riveting, sad, funny, scary, 1979, look into the world of Professional Football. One of my favorite sports movies. The deal was that Tim would give me his take. Which means another sit down? But there is going to be a plethora of sit downs as I jump into and on top of the brave new world of DOME Audio, headphones, good vibrations, investors, future think and destiny. “Goodnight Tim. Watch out for the deer and the 25 MPH speed limit.”
Cal Schwartz FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/cal.schwartz.5
Calvin Schwartz LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/calvin-schwartz-866a805/
AND SO IS TIMOTHY (TIM) WRIGHT ALWAYS AROUND:
Timothy Wright LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/timothy-wright-28972b10a/
Tim Wright email: firstname.lastname@example.org
AND DOME AUDIO WEBSITE: http://domeaudioinc.com/