By: Jimmy Clausen
After finishing up my six-year NFL career at the end of the 2015 season, I returned home to California and began life after football — venturing into the world of real estate, which has been a passion of mine from an early age.
See, growing up, every few years my parents would buy a house, have our family live in it for a few years, then fix it up and sell it so we could move into a bigger, more accommodating, space.
I got the low down of the real estate world from my family, but by 2006, it was time for me to find new real estate of my own.
Coming out of Oaks Christian High School in West Village, Calif., I was fortunate to be considered by many recruiting experts and publications to be the No. 1 recruit in the country. That meant letters, phone calls, official and unofficial visits and offers from all over the country, including the most prestigious football programs and academic institutions in the country.
When it came to finding a new home, there were many conversations to be had and many factors to consider — faith, family and football at the top of that list.
At the end of the day, one school spoke to me. So, on April 22, 2006, I drove to the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind. and declared that I was going to Notre Dame to play for head coach Charlie Weis and the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame was everything I was looking for in a school academically, socially and spiritually. On top of that, I believe it’s football program had two things that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else — a tradition like non-other and a head coach who had proven sustained success at the NFL level.
For me, the decision really came down to Coach Weis. My childhood dream was to play in the NFL and I thought Coach Weis, who developed Tom Brady and helped guide the New England Patriots to three Super Bowls, was the best teacher for me.
Sure enough, after three years under his guidance, I was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers.
I’ll never forget my first NFL game, or my first touchdown pass. But what they say is true, you never really can duplicate the college experience or the memories made with your friends, who become your brothers.
Whether it was leading a 4th quarter comeback drive at Purdue with torn ligaments in my toe, or spending a week in Honolulu with my teammates before a season-finale win at the Hawaii Bowl, playing for the University of Notre Dame was one of the best decisions of my life.
The memories I made in South Bend will stand the test of time. Now, I can’t wait to make more memories with my family. My wife Jess (a former All-American volleyball player at USC), our newborn Cooper James Clausen and I are excited to join Big Game Air to fly to the Notre Dame/USC game this October to watch the Fighting Irish and Trojans in person.
I can’t wait to show Cooper his dad’s second home for the first time. You better believe he will be a Fight Irish fan for life (even though his mom already tries to give him USC gear). And, who knows, maybe he’ll even be Notre Dame’s next great quarterback!