Some NFL players go to the beach, head overseas or just relax back home at this point of the offseason.
Rams running back Terrance Ganaway heads to work at Jimmy John’s on Fourth Street in Waco, Texas.
“I’m on the line that makes the sandwiches,” Ganaway said. “I bake bread. Take the cashier spot. I had to sweep the other day. Clean the tables. I mean, all types of stuff. Slice the meat. Wrap the meat.”
Everything that any other employee of the sandwich shop chain would do except get in his car and deliver sandwiches.
“I’m in the heat of the battle,” Ganaway said. “Trying to make sandwiches fast is Jimmy John’s policy, so it’s kind of stressful.”
Following his first pro season, the Baylor product found he had a lot of free time on his hands. Too much free time.
“I just wanted to stay fit, stay out of trouble, and really just try to save money and not spend a lot of money,” he said. “So I just jokingly tweeted that I needed a job in Waco. Was anyone hiring?
Well, a Jimmy John’s employee tweeted back: “We’re hiring.”
Ganaway looked into it, applied for a job and got hired. For the last several weeks, he has been working part-time — 12 hours a week — from 5-9 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Ganaway doesn’t have any children, but he jokes that when he does, he’ll tell them he once worked two jobs to get them through school.
“My No. 1 job is being an NFL player,” Ganaway said. “So don’t get it confused as to me working at Jimmy John’s has me lazy. ... I know what I have to do. I know how to get in shape and I know what it takes to perform at a high level. Really, Jimmy John’s is just to keep me out of trouble in all the down time we have in the offseason.”
Claimed off waivers from the New York Jets at the end of the 2012 preseason, Ganaway appeared in only three games for the Rams and didn’t have a carry or catch. With Steven Jackson, Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead on the roster, he had little in the way of opportunity, especially since he wasn’t with the team during training camp and the preseason.
But the Rams were intrigued enough with Ganaway to keep him on the roster all season. And if Jackson voids his contract and ends up playing elsewhere, Ganaway could fill a big-back role at 6-1, 240, in what could be a running back-by-committee approach with Richardson and Pead.
“From April 15 when we start (the offseason conditioning program) to the end of the season in December, it’s a long, grinding process,” Ganaway said. “And I just want to make sure my body’s healthy, ready to go and ready to answer when they call my number.”
Ganaway works out just about every day; twice on some days. But for 12 hours each week, it’s all about the sandwiches. Not unlike an NFL rookie, Ganaway has struggled to learn his sandwich-making playbook.
“Got to learn everything on the menu,” he said. “It’s something that I’m learning every day. You’ve got to know your sandwich.”
And with many customers, there are audibles to contend with.
“I’ve been getting a lot of audibles on sandwiches,” he said. “So on an Italian Nightclub — no onions — I’ve got to make sure there’s no onions on there.”
Ganaway made the NFL’s minimum wage this past season with the Rams — $390,000. He’s not sure what he’s making at Jimmy John’s.
“I’m probably guessing minimum wage — $7.25 to $7.50 (an hour),” he said.
But he’s not there for the money. He says he enjoys being in the trenches, so to speak, and loves his co-workers.
“They’re good people,” he said. “I’m very outgoing, so I love meeting people.”
Baylor fans love meeting Ganaway. The former teammate of Robert Griffin III was a star in his own right in 2011 for the Bears, rushing for 1,547 yards, scoring 22 touchdowns and setting or tying 12 school records.
But not every Baylor football fan recognizes him when ordering a sandwich.
“You know, I’m in uniform,” Ganaway said. “I’ve got an apron on, with a visor. I’ve got gloves. So unless I recognize somebody and I say, ‘Hey, what’s up man?’ They look at me kind of weird and say: ‘Why are you working at Jimmy John’s?’ ”
In those instances, Ganaway doesn’t mind talking football. In fact, he had his own self-styled promotion one night, giving out one of his signed rookie cards to every 25th customer.
“I wound up giving pretty much all the cards away,” he said.
However, there’s not always time for gridiron gab, or renewing acquaintances with familiar faces from his college days.
“I tend not to worry about who’s coming in, especially when that sandwich line gets long and I’ve gotta make a million sandwiches in about two minutes,” he said.
It’s a lesson he learned the hard way, when one of the store’s shift managers came down on him for spending too much time talking football on the job.
“It was a changeup that I had to adjust to at work,” Ganaway said. “But it’s really a great environment and I love working there.”