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Terrence Murphy: football to real estate

2653 days ago
Emily Wilkins | The Eagle
Photo: Texas A&M

This article was originally written on and published October 11, 2014.

Terrence Murphy makes it look easy.

He came to Texas A&M a two-star recruit who had played quarterback his whole life and left one of the most decorated wide receivers in A&M history.

He's been a Realtor for four-and-a-half years and sold $58 million worth of real estate in 230 transactions. He is among the top 10 percent of realtors in the Brazos Valley for number of transactions and sales, according to BCS Regional Association of Realtors. His business, TM5, was nominated for the Aggie 100, which recognizes the fastest growing Aggie-owned business worldwide.

Murphy makes it looks effortless, a feat impressive because of the amount of effort involved. Not just in football, but in rebounding after he lost years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice in an instant.

"I thought this is it, my life is over," Murphy, 31, said looking back on the end of his NFL career in 2005. "It wasn't even about football or the money. It was just that I lost something I had dearly loved."

Life after football.

His rookie year with the Green Bay Packers, Murphy's spine was injured in a head-to-head collision during a Carolina Panthers game.

The Packers wanted Murphy to retire. But Murphy wasn't ready to let football go. This was, after all, the A&M player who woke up at 6 a.m. to work out for hours. This was a player so committed to catching a football, he'd catch 1,000 tennis balls in each hand daily.

Murphy tried to play with several other teams, but finally came to terms that his injury held too much risk and decided to retire.

"I was depressed to be honest," Murphy said, sitting behind his desk at TM5 Properties. "I went through a really low spot in my life because all I had ever known was I was going to play football."

Football faded from the picture. Teammates, friends, even some family members stopped reaching out. And Murphy began to keep out everyone else.

"I had to find myself one-on-one with me and God," he said. "I had to get everyone else out of the picture."

That included Erica Calabrese, who knew Murphy was the man she was meant to marry, even though she was a Longhorn and he was an Aggie.

But in the months after his injury, while visiting him in Wisconsin in November of 2005, she sensed Murphy needed time on his own. "He was depressed," she said. "He wasn't himself."

The two decided to take a break. For eight months, they didn't talk. And every day, Calabrese prayed.

Murphy also was praying in his hometown of Tyler in East Texas. He began a Bible study group with his childhood friend Brandon Kennedy, then a fullback at the University of Arkansas. They were drawn to Psalms and Proverbs and the prayers of the downtrodden.

"They're broken, they're asking God for answers," said Kennedy, now a Minister of Evangelism at Cross Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas. "We could relate to those people in the Psalms. We had some of those same prayers."

Murphy had one prayer for the Lord. He didn't ask to play football or be famous or make money. He asked for a passion in life.

"My prayer to God was, 'I don't care what I do, just give me a genuine passion.'" Murphy recalled.

Slowly, Murphy began to reemerge from the cocoon he'd placed himself in. In June he called Calabrese. Seven months later, they were engaged. She became Erica Murphy on Feb. 18, 2008.

Terrence Murphy already knew where he wanted to live. After his injury there was one strong support system that didn't fall away -- the Aggie community.

"The letters, the emails, the post cards, I don't even know how all those people got my cellphone," he said. "I was getting so many text messages from random numbers."

"Nobody supported me more than the Aggie fanbase."

Toward TM5

Before he went to the NFL, Murphy graduated with a degree in agriculture development with a minor in business. But football players don't have time for internships and Murphy, despite his impressive athletic resume, lacked job experience.

Former A&M football coach R.C. Slocum said the transition from the gridiron to work force is not an easy one to make.

"A lot of guys will play five, 10 years of football and then when they get out, they have to get out and start from scratch in their career," he said. "That's a hard deal."

Slocum remembers Murphy was never satisfied with his performance while he was a player at A&M. "He always felt like he could do better," Slocum said.

It was the same with his career. Murphy strove to find one he could excel at. He interned with homebuilders while still in the NFL. He opened up a retail store, but closed it after several years. He invested in some real estate and started designing and creating urban development projects in College Station, Dallas and Highland Park. He started working toward his post-graduate studies at Mays Business School, but left after a semester to become a realtor.

"It was the closest thing I could find to a career that was close to being a pro athlete," Murphy said. "It keeps my competitive edge going."

Murphy began seeking out mentors, like Doug Pederson, a real estate investor and a former A&M basketball player, who knew that success as a college athlete didn't always translate to success in a career.

"We like the fame," Pederson said of athletes. "We expect a lot of things to be given to us."

"It fades pretty quick if you don't know who you are and what you're doing," he added. "The money that's involved overshadows any fame or any celebrity."

Murphy got his license on Feb. 1, 2010, and began working at another real estate broker in College Station. He opened TM5 in Sept. 1, 2011.

Murphy's background at A&M has played a part in his success, said Ed Berry, executive vice president for the Bryan-College Station Regional Association of Realtors. But that's only part of what has made Murphy successful.

"He's smart enough to know what he doesn't know," Berry said. "Terrence has a drive about him. I think he would have succeeded in just about anything he did."

Mario Murphy, Terrence Murphy's older cousin, said they used to dream of getting to the NFL, of becoming a success.

The first part came true for Terrence Murphy, but so has the second. He's a married man with two daughters, one 4 years old, one 6 months. He has a successful career and a business with 20 employees, including his wife.

"Like he did on the football field, he's translated that into life," said Mario Murphy. "He gave his all into workouts. He does the same thing with real estate."

New End Zone

Albert Einstein watches Terrence Murphy work. A painting of the physicist and philosopher hangs in Murphy's office above two football helmets.

"That's me, that's the way I think," Murphy said. "He didn't mind being different."

Einstein is one of the few pieces of art in the building that don't have a religious theme. A focus on religion, as well as family, is part of what sets TM5 apart from other real estate firms, said broker associate Tara Branham, who worked at several other firms before coming to TM5.

"We're very much a family and we support each other tremendously," she said. "We pray together. We pray for each other."

Murphy tends to hire new agents with little or no experience and mentor them. Abbie Walsh received her realtor's license and joined TM5 in fall 2011. In 2013, she sold $6.9 million in 2013 under Murphy's mentorship.

"He was there every step of the way," Walsh said. "He would take any phone call, any text and question."

Murphy doesn't like to talk about the past -- he's already into the future. There are books he plans to write and a program he wants to start to help A&M athletes make a smooth transition after their athletic careers end.

"I've seen what it takes to get to this point," Murphy said. "And I know what it takes to move forward."

But Murphy also knows his past is part of his success. Hidden under his shirt, is a tattoo etched close to his heart. It reminds him of his injury and finding his passion again. It reads: "Hebrew 13: 5-6."

"Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence. The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?"

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