Private equity’s NFL roster

August 22, 2011, 9:30 PM UTC

The end of an NFL career sometimes means the start of a private equity career.

Last week I linked to an ESPN story about how New England Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko had spent his locked-out summer interning at a private equity firm. He seems to have been the only active player to have done so, but the private equity ranks are littered with former NFL pros.

Given that both the football and fall deal-making season are right around the corner, I figured it’s time to share the “roster.” Worth noting that offense is much better represented than is defense…

Starting quarterback: Steve Young
The two-time league MVP and Hall of Famer currently is a co-founder and managing director with Huntsman Gay Global Capital, a mid-market buyout firm that is currently investing out of its $1.1 billion debut fund.

Backup quarterback: Drew Bledsoe
The man who helped resurrect pro football in New England currently is co-managing Bledsoe Capital Management, a firm that invests in such areas as tech, entertainment, luxury services and real estate. He also has become an entrepreneur, launching his own line of wines.

Emergency quarterback: Dave Brown
Phil Simms’ successor in New York, Brown would start 60 NFL games for the Giants and Arizona Cardinals. He currently is a managing director in the private equity fund placement group of Greenhill & Co.

Halfback: Tommy Vardell
“Tocuhdown Tommy” technically was a fullback, but not on this team. He reached the end-zone 18 times with Cleveland, Detroit and San Francisco, when not blocking for running backs like Barry Sanders. Vardell currently serves as managing director with fund-of-funds manager Northgate Capital.

Wide receiver: Muhsin Muhammad
The former Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears standout is managing director with Axum Capital Partners, a Durham, N.C.-based PE firm focused on the lower and middle-markets

Wide receiver: Mark Harris
Harris had just 13 receptions in a five-year career. He currently serves as managing director with fund-of-funds manager Northgate Capital.

Backup wide receiver: Glenn Scolnik
Scolnik played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1973, but didn’t record a catch. He did, however, have a bit more success in the Canadian Football League. Scolnick now serves as chairman of PE firm Hammond Kennedy Whitney.

Tight end: Brent Jones
The 4-time Pro Bowler played all but one of his 12 seasons in San Francisco, where he now serves as managing director with fund-of-funds manager Northgate Capital.

Tight end: Greg Baty
Baty played for three NFL teams over a 10-year career, catching 85 balls for nearly 900 yards. He now is a vice president with Hamilton Lane, where he focuses on the firm’s fund investment efforts.

Offensive line: Harris Barton
A former right tackle with San Francisco, Barton was one of three ex-49ers to launch a fund-of-funds called Champion Ventures. Later known as HRJ Capital, the firm ultimately failed after borrowing more money than it was able to raise. Barton would briefly work at HRJ — which acquired HRJ — but since has launched a VC co-investment group called H. Barton Asset Management. The other two Champion co-founders, Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott, no longer are in the private equity business.

Offensive Line: Courtney Hall
Hall was a four-time Pro Bowl center for the San Diego Chargers, including their line Super Bowl appearance in 1995. He now is a co-founder and managing director with venture capital firm Hillcrest Venture Partners.

Offensive Line: Ron Wooten
Wooten played seven seasons at guard for the New England Patriots. He now is managing partner of NovaQuest Capital Management, a private equity group focused on the biopharmaceutical sector.

Defensive line: Jim Flanigan
Flanigan is the son of a former Green Bay Packer, and spent a decade in the NFL with teams that included the Packers, Bears, Eagles and 49ers. He currently is a managing director with private equity fund-of-funds Granite Hall Partners.

Free safety: Gary Fencik
The only member of this list to have done the Super Bowl Shuffle, Fencik played 12 seasons with the Chicago Bears (including the legendary 1985 team). He now is head of business development with Adams Street Partners.

Strong Safety: Patrick Eilers
The former Notre Dame standout played six years in the NFL, with Washington, Minnesota and Chicago. He now is a managing director with buyout firm Madison Dearborn Capital Partners.