INDIANAPOLIS — No beach, no vacation, none of that – instead, the lunch shift at a fast-food joint, hours before kickoff on a bustling college campus. It was chaotic. Stressful. One customer walked in and ordered $100 worth of food. Another told Nyheim Hines his fries were cold, begging for fresh ones. Plenty more saw his face peak out from under his Bojangles’ visor in the drive-thru window, and wondered why in the world an NFL running back was handing them their fried chicken.
“What are you doing here?” they’d ask.
Fair question, considering Hines’ day job is paying him $480,000 in base salary this year.
Hines is the youngest member of the Indianapolis Colts’ 53-man roster. He’s the No. 2 rusher in a dynamic offense, a shifty scat back coach Frank Reich loves using in open space, a rookie this team expects to bloom in the seasons to come. He’s slated to make $2.4 million by the time his rookie deal is complete in 2021.
INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts rookie running back Nyheim Hines could have spent his first bye week hanging out in the Bahamas, Mexico or on the West Coast in Southern California relaxing and spending some of his $480,000 base salary.
The thing about Hines, though, is that there was no temptation to do those things. His eyes were on his future even though he’s only 22 years old and hopes for a long NFL career.
That’s why he spent part of his bye week on the NC State campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, getting weird looks from people wondering what the NFL player was doing behind the counter wearing a Bojangles visor and T-shirt. He was taking and passing out orders of fried chicken, cajun fries, sweet tea and their signature Bo Berry biscuits.
Hines knows his football career won’t last forever. In fact, he knows it could end at any moment because of a freakish injury. That’s why he has started the process of learning what it takes to be a restaurant owner.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing since high school,” he said. “I talked to [my] father (Darrin) a lot, and he mentioned a restaurant. I always thought to myself that if I do make it to the NFL I’ll have a lot of money. Enough money to change my family’s life, and if I do it right, enough money for future generations of my family. I want to run several Bojangles when I’m done playing.”
Why a fast food restaurant instead of being a real estate (another passion of his) entrepreneur? Because fast food restaurants don’t close outside of renovations, Hines said.
“And in order to run a restaurant you have to be able to know how to do everything,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy thing to do. People are spending money on food they expect to look, taste and be delivered a certain way. The day I was in there it was on a Saturday a few hours before NC State’s football team had a game. Somebody came in and ordered $100 worth of food. You had to take care of his order and everybody else’s, too.”
Hines, who averages about 10 touches per game and has scored three TDs for the Colts this season, said he chose Bojangles because it’s always been his favorite place to eat. He posted an Instagram story back in July prior to heading to Indianapolis for training camp saying he was going to “miss you guys” and tagging Bojangles in it.
Bojangles, which is predominately in the southeastern part of the United States, got in touch with Hines and sent him the location of the nearest restaurant in each city the Colts play in this season. He had a friend bring him some Bojangles when the team was in Washington to play the Redskins in Week 2.
That’s why it was a “no-brainer” to try to work at Bojangles during the team’s bye in Week 9.
“My initial reaction was ‘Wow,’ when Nyheim told me that’s what he wanted to do when the players had days off,” David Thornton, the Colts director of player of engagement, said. “He was taking the initiative to make it happen. That’s admirable for a rookie to start that process on the front end and take it beyond just football. We really try to get guys to think about things beyond just football. Understanding that football is a gift. They’re special in that way, but everybody has gifts beyond that, too.”
Being a restaurant owner is a 100-yard journey for Hines. He started as an IT major at NC State but switched to a business major later. He said he still has 18 credit hours to complete before he receives his degree.
“I plan to continue working with restaurants in the offseason,” Hines said. “[Former Colts linebacker] Gary Brackett is somebody who went from playing in the NFL to becoming a successful entrepreneur. I want to learn from as many people as possible to see how they made the transition.”