49ers star and Stanford alum Richard Sherman is an investor off the field—here's his strategy

Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the San Francisco 49ers
Christian Petersen

On Sunday, Feb. 2, NFL veteran Richard Sherman has the chance to earn a second Super Bowl ring when he and the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. ET.

His first Super Bowl championship came in 2014, when his team at the time, the Seattle Seahawks, dominated the Denver Broncos in a 43-8 win. Sherman joined the Niners in 2018, after negotiating a three-year, $39.15 million contract on his own, without the help of an agent.

The 31-year-old cornerback, who grew up in Compton, Calif., and graduated from Stanford University, has several projects he's working on off the field, too.

"Just going to Stanford and being in Silicon Valley for so long, my eyes were open to the tech community at a really young age," Sherman said at a 2019 start-up event in downtown San Francisco. "I've always been conscious of life after football, and I needed to have a role in this industry that a lot of my friends have lived in for the past 10 years."

He's invested in municipal bonds — his first investment — mutual funds and specific companies like Tesla, which he bought for $35 a share and sold at $85 to $90. He was an early investor and advisor in Body Armor, a performance drink designed by athletes. He's even dabbled in cryptocurrencies.

More recently, Sherman is putting his money into more start-ups, including Vicis, a Seattle-based company that makes football helmets designed to reduce impact forces, and Oxeia Biopharmaceuticals, a drug company that is experimenting with a pill to mitigate the impact of concussions. Plus, he joined Decibel, a new venture fund founded by Jon Sakoda, as an investor and advisor.

Richard Sherman of the 49ers at Decibel event in San Francisco
Source: Chris Conroy

The NFL star's personal investing strategy is simple: He puts his money behind companies that are interesting to him.

"It's all about interest," he told Fortune in January. "I'm interested obviously in technology and player safety.

"I'm interested in making this game safer for my kids. And my kids' kids."

Former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal, who's also vocal about being an investor, has a similar strategy, in that he sticks with what he knows, trusts and believes in.

"If something comes across my desk and I don't believe in it, I don't even look at it," O'Neal told The Wall Street Journal.

O'Neal also prefers to work with companies he personally enjoys. Of all of his investments, which range from Apple to 24 Hour Fitness, his favorite is Krispy Kreme, he told The WSJ, "because I like donuts. ... Krispy Kreme is a fabulous donut. I was introduced to it in college and have been in love with it ever since."

That said, you don't necessarily want to invest in something just because you like it. You want to make sure you truly understand the company, too, says legendary investor Warren Buffett: "What an investor needs is the ability to correctly evaluate selected businesses. Note that word 'selected': You don't have to be an expert on every company, or even many. You only have to be able to evaluate companies within your circle of competence.

"The size of that circle is not very important; knowing its boundaries, however, is vital."

Simply put, when it comes to investing, Buffett says to stick to what you know. "Defining what your game is — where you're going to have an edge — is enormously important."

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Productivity tips from the world's best athletes and coaches
Productivity tips from the world's best athletes and coaches