Adam Richelieu, one of Forbes’ latest 30 under 30 honorees, knew when he set foot on Auburn University’s campus that he’d found his home away from home.
The soon-to-be Auburn freshman called his mom and told her he didn’t want to see any other schools — he was going to be a Tiger.
“I hate to sound like an Auburn fan-boy here, but it was one of those things like growing up you sort of have an image of the school you want to go to in your head and I stepped maybe five foot onto campus before all of a sudden, it just become very clear that Auburn was the place I wanted to go,” Richelieu said.
Although he entered school with the idea of going to law school later, football called his name and Richelieu found a passion.
“I’ve always been super into football,” he said. “It’s just something I’ve had since I was a little kid. I mean I grew up in a football family. My whole mom’s family were die-hard Redskins fans, I grew up in the D.C. area. But I never really had a college team. So when I got to Auburn I got super invested into (college football).”
Richelieu began work with Auburn Athletics in 2013 after his graduation with a degree in political science.
He also was trying to hold down an internship in the legal field; however, he quickly figured out that he was not finding his happiness.
He called his parents again with more life-changing news: Football inspired him and would be the path he followed.
“It really was just a lot of administration work, but I think it was the proximity to the sport itself that actually enticed me more than the physical work,” Richelieu said. “’Cause I mean, what I do now is completely different.”
Now he is working for the NFL Players Association as the salary cap manager.
At 29 years old, he made the Forbes 30 under 30 list.
“The primary liaison between the NFLPA and NFL agents on player contract issues, Richelieu brokered an agreement to standardize rookie contract language and has created several new statistical categories related to contract finances,” the Forbes 30 under 30 list wrote. “He’s also played a key role in driving up position-specific contract values; wide receiver salaries are up more than 35% in the last three years.”
In this job, Richelieu is surrounded by football — his life revolves around it, even if he works more on the financial side.
“I just sort of realized, look most kids turn on owner mode when they’re playing Madden growing up and they want to balance the salary cap and make roster moves, addition, do contract work and that’s fortunately what I’ve been able to put myself in a position to do.”
Richelieu had a dream of making the Forbes list ever since he saw a hero of his own make Forbes’ list: Mike Disner, vice president of football administration for the Detroit Lions.
At 29, this was his last chance and he waited anxiously to see if he would be included. The day the list came out, Richelieu said he was disappointed, realizing that he probably hadn’t made it, having not heard anything.
He and his fiancé scanned the list and when Richelieu saw his picture and bio, he said he sat open-mouthed; “Oh, my God,” he repeated over and over again.
Richelieu headed off to work with his secret in hand.
“When you grow up you always set goals for yourself, and some of them are absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “… I think the most rewarding part for me is when I was a little kid I always wanted to work in football and it just never seemed like a realistic goal. So for me, it’s getting to come into work and genuinely enjoy the subject matter.”