Beyond the Field with

LINDSEY WARD, HOME TURF

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

PLAYER: Albert Johnson III (kick returner, No. 87)

OFF-FIELD ACTIVITY: Selling insurance

Multi-tasker Albert Johnson has it covered.

Thanks to today's technologies, a football practice is only half a day's work for the Blue Bombers kick returner who runs his own insurance business.

"When I get out of practice -- especially when we have a morning practice -- I go home and check my e-mails and I get on the phone," says Johnson, 29, who heads up a branch of Farmers Insurance in his hometown of Houston, Texas, year-round. "I'm always in contact with my customers through e-mail. In this day and age everything's done electronically, so I'm still working when I'm here."

Johnson has a full-time staff person to serve as a face for the business while he's up in Winnipeg working it out on the field, but the web allows him to be on-call anytime he's not booting a pigskin.

"It's my bread and butter," he says.

Before the Bombers signed Johnson as a free agent in Dec. 2005, he had hit a lull in his football career, he says: "My wife got tired of me sitting around the house."

Figuring he had what it took to make it in the insurance biz, Johnson headed to Farmers' Los Angeles headquarters to train to sell coverage for vehicles, homes, businesses, health and lives. Upon returning home to Houston, he shamelessly promoted his new skills, posting flyers up and chatting up potential customers around the neighbourhood.

"I have no problem talking to people," he says. "That's the main thing; I think it's just the personality. I consider myself an outgoing person. I enjoy meeting people and talking to people -- and that's how it starts. It's a product that everybody needs so it's not like it's a hard sale. I'm not selling T-shirts or cologne out of my trunk, you know?"

Johnson's off-field gig also has a lot of personal benefits. He and his wife have three young children -- twin boys and a girl -- who will inherit his business, so no matter what career path they choose, they'll have something solid to fall back on.

"I give them first rights to my business. I'm thinking ahead, too. I want to give them a little bit better of a life that I had," says Johnson, who had enough to get by growing up, but is leery about today's competitive job market. "As long as they make it out and do things the right way growing up -- which I don't anticipate any problems with -- if they choose to, they can have the business."

Being his own boss was the biggest draw to the insurance industry for Johnson, who can't afford to spend OT at the office while also juggling a family and a long distance football career. Unlike his job with the Bombers, he can play by his own rules -- and only has himself to answer to.

"In football we're told what to do, what to wear, what time to be there. I mean, of course I have rules in my office -- but you have a little bit more flexibility than the typical 9-to-5," Johnson says. "I like the independence and the kind of freedom that this business offers me, especially with the kids being small. I can spend more time with 'em, I can leave when I want to. When you're your own boss, it works out."

Check out Johnson's biz at ajinsuresme.com.


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