Check our exclusive interview with talented NFL TE from the Oakland Raiders Jared Cook.

Jared played college football at the University of South Carolina and was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He has also played for the St. Louis Rams and Green Bay Packers.

We talked with Jared about his career life, his goals, his fashion style and about his fashion brand Nifty Genius, his strengths and much more.

Describe yourself in three words?

Silly, down-to-earth and a genius.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life so far?

My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncle. My parents are my biggest influence because of the things they have done over the years and continue to do to ensure my success. I had their support from when I was little and it was imperative for where I am in my life now. The lessons they have taught me have influenced my life and career and still withhold and standup today.

How did you get started with football? Any other members of your family play as well?

In 4th grade my mom took my brother to sign up and he got cold feet. I had heart and said I wanted to play. To this day I’m still mad at my coaches though, they had the tallest skinniest kid out there playing center! This is where my uncle became such an important influence on my life. He played at Kentucky State as a wide receiver. Growing up, he groomed me and taught me how to play and love the game. Currently he is incarcerated, but he still sends messages to me through my dad. He watches all of my games and sends his advice as to how I can improve and get better. Also, I should let you know, my brother Jason ended up finding it. He played ball at Ole Miss and for the Ravens.

What are the expectations for the Oakland Raiders for this 2018 season?

As of now the only expectation is the Super Bowl.

Any particular goals this season for yourself?

Get more yards and catches than I had last year and of course the Pro Bowl.

Name one player that you would love to play with? (can be a retired player too)

There are a lot of players. My idol growing up was Jerry Rice. I’m such a big fan of football, even to this day when I meet certain players I still get a little star-struck.

What was the feeling to win an ESPY for Best Play?

It was probably the dopest feeling in the world, aside from my kids being born. It offered a sense of recognition for all the hard work and talent that I haven’t received at that level before!

How and when did you get started in fashion?

I went to school for business and retail at South Carolina. My passion developed while I was there. I always had trouble finding clothes in my size that fit me. I had a teacher that told me I had a niche that was in need: clothes that fit well, were comfortable and stylish. She had some students that started a line called Southern Tide and she shared their story and how they got started. She gave me some pointers on how I should explore developing my own line. In 2012 I had done a lot of research and started developing the idea for Nifty Genius. By the time I entered my first year with the St. Louis Rams in 2013 I had built up enough capital to start production. After about two years of R&D we officially laughed the brand.

Now tell us about your fashion brand, Nifty Genius, and where we can buy it?

Nifty Genius is a men’s fashion brand that was born out of a love for fashion and subsequent frustration with how the industry has underserved the modern man. Our cultivated collection combines menswear, intelligence, and pedigree with craft and technology to create affordable luxury that transcends perceived value.

The brand introduces the Curated Menswear Experience—an agile direct to consumer collection and purveyed retail platform that serves the informed gentleman through understated yet elegant garments, bags, footwear, headwear, accessories, vintage watches, furnishings, and even cars with a focus on quality, craftsmanship and quiet luxury.

Visit Nifty Genius here!

What kind of style is Nifty Genius?

The brand combines street contemporary, American sportswear and casual wear in variable measures. We also carry a heavy line of business and business casual apparel. Ultimately, we strive to deliver personalized style at a fair cost. Most importantly though, it is super comfortable.

Why just for men? Are you thinking expanding in the future to kids or womens?

Man, we’ve had a lot of women ask for it! We focus on men because I am a man. (haha) I can’t tell you much about women, but I know what I like as a man. I can help a man dress a lot better than I can a woman. We’ve talked about expanding into the market for women. I’m not a big fan right now as Nifty Genius is so unique to its space, but it’s definitely a possibility down the road.

What part of having a fashion brand do you find the most challenging?

The most challenging for me has been building a brand without attaching my name to it. I wanted to build something that could stand on its own without my football name and status. I wanted to build a brand I knew would be sustainable and successful without having to rely on my personal platform. That’s what was most important to me…that it could stand on its own. We’ve finally reached that point, now I feel like I can come out and help build it further. I call it the tight end effect!

How often are you bringing new designs into your collection?

Every season. We are just launching spring/summer now.

What is different about your brand than other brands in the market?

I’m building something for people that like to travel and dress comfortably. I wanted to help focus on athletes and business professionals that want style and comfort without the traditional stiff business suit. The old design of suits is not comfortable, and in my opinion is dated. Nifty offers designs that are casual for every day wear or well suited for the business world. We offer suits that are built for comfort and are breathable so that you won’t sweat every time you put them on. Our style gives you a way to express how you feel through your style and how you dress it up. Every time you put on one of our suits it gives you a euphoric feeling. This is what creates the uniqueness and originality of the brand.

Do you normally dress up with clothes from Nifty Genius?

Absolutely.

What do you love in the new spring/summer?

We have a lot of knit shorts and we have a lot of different patterns. Spring/Summer is my favorite collection as I feel like I can be the most expressive with the designs. We have long sleeve shirts, short sleeve shirts, thin jackets and shorts. The camel short sleeve shirts are pretty dope.

Can you name any celebrities/football players that are big fans of your brand?

Me, haha, just joking. Wiz Khalifa and Carl McDowell.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

God. That’s number one all of the time. I talk to him every day. It would be dope to sit down with him, because I have so many questions.

Name one of your strengths?

Thinking. Not over-thinking, just thinking. Using your brain to solve problems. It’s the most important tool we have.

How do you spend your spare time?

Spending time with family number one! The rest of the time I’m reading, studying or playing video games.

In five years from now, where do you see yourself and your career?

Retired. Working on Nifty Genius and other businesses that I build in the next stage of my career. That’s another reason I started Nifty Genius, football is a blessing, but its not forever. I have a passion for business and I wanted to make sure I had other things I could transition into for the next stage of my career. I have no desire to be someone who is sitting around waiting and wondering what comes next in my life.

What is your favorite food?

I’m a breakfast guru. I love breakfast. I could eat it all day. Shrimp & grits and chicken & waffles. I’m Southern kid so I love comfort food.

What music do you like?

Hip hop, RnB and gospel.

Do you support any charity?

My mother is a breast cancer survivor, so I’m a big supporter of Susan G. Komen. I am also a huge advocate for kids. That is where my passion lies, and I have such a huge opportunity to use my platform to give back to young individuals. I love speaking to them from an area that’s familiar to me and is coming from a successful perspective. I feel like I have a lot I can teach kids and that’s an area where I like to focus my knowledge.

A perfect Sunday is…?

Chilling on the couch with a drink in my hand and probably watching a movie.

Three things you can’t leave home without?

My wallet, my phone and my passport.

What do you think of social media?

It’s a double edged sword to me. I believe it provides people a unique platform to express themselves. I think sometimes it is used in wrong way, it can be a façade for many – fake it till you make it kind of deal. When people don’t use it in a real light, or it is full of false information and fake friends I believe it can become a crutch. I prefer to deal with what’s real and that’s why I’ve not been very active with social media in the past.

Where we can follow you?

Twitter @jaredcook89

Instagram @jaredcook87

Favorite song: I’m a music buff, I don’t know if I have a favorite song. Music drives culture and energy, especially in the sports world.

Next travel destination: Milan.

Favorite restaurant: Waffle House.

Favorite Actor/Actress: Rosario Dawson

Favorite quote: “Be great.” I say it every day.

Favorite book: Relentless by Tim Grover

Favorite movie: The Lego Batman Movie.

Favorite drink: Casamigos.

Photo Credit: Jermaine Williams @jwilliamsfhoto