When his Georgia Tech career ended at the TaxSlayer Bowl last New Year’s Eve, defensive end Rod Rook-Chungong had what seemed like a no-brainer of a next step. The pursuit of a job in the NFL – the chance to draw a six-figure salary and live a dream – would seem a matter of course for a two-year starter on a power-conference team that he helped win nine games as a senior.
An effective edge-setting run stopper, Rook-Chungong turned it down, though, starting a job with Mondelez (formerly Kraft Foods) in January. He makes visits to grocery stores, Targets and Walmarts to pitch floor displays and his employer’s array of Nabisco snacks.
Former teammates such as quarterback Justin Thomas, defensive tackle Patrick Gamble and kicker Harrison Butker will hope their NFL careers will launch with this weekend’s draft, which starts Thursday night. It will come and go without Rook-Chungong, though.
“I definitely loved what football does for me, but I know I’m bigger than football,” he said. “I’m not just a football player.”
He is one of a number of Tech players who have made the same choice in recent seasons, seeing their identities more broadly than football, seizing opportunities in the real world and walking away from a shot at professional football with their bodies intact.