Fulfilling My Legacy

N Our Voice by Lawrence Pete

I had a great football career.

I played for the Huskers in the late 80s and five seasons in the NFL for the Detroit Lions.

On the surface, this may look like I accomplished all of my life's dreams and aspirations.

And I would agree, but not in the ways you might think.

You see, I didn't choose football.

Football chose me. 

I had a successful football career, but truthfully, football didn't fulfill me.

When I was retiring from the sport, I was looking forward to pursuing a different path.

Don't get me wrong, I'm super proud of what I achieved on the football field, but I wasn't satisfied with being 'Lawrence Pete, the former nose tackle who played at Nebraska and in the NFL.'

I knew from a young age I was destined for much more, and once I retired from my playing days, I had the rest of my life to prove that.

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Football chose me


I'm from Kansas, so it should come as no surprise that I grew up playing more basketball than football. The problem was, as I got older, I was developing more of a football body than a basketball body.

Adding to that point, I've always loved to lift weights. 

It's a real passion of mine. 

I remember in high school — you couldn't use the weight room unless you were participating in a sport for that season.

It was fall, so in order to use the weight room, I had to choose to play a sport. 

Naturally, I chose football.

From there, I just kept getting bigger and stronger, and my size, athleticism, and strength made football a natural transition for me.

Like I said, football chose me.

It was destined to be.

The rest is history.

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Honoring two leaders of men


My grandfather had a massive influence on my life.

He was my best friend.

Something he taught me at an early age was the value of education. Nothing was more important to him than a college education.

He was denied the opportunity of education, however.

When he was in 5th grade, my great-grandfather came to the school and told him he had enough education to what life had in store for him — “pick cotton.” 

That moment traumatized him, because he loved education and learning. He talked to me about it a lot, and often cried as he was denied that opportunity.

So, when he started his family, he vowed that all 10 of his children would be college-educated. He was successful with all but one — my dad joined the Navy — and two of his kids even have doctorate degrees.

He even mortgaged his home three times, just to keep his promise. 

I think this should give you a good idea of who my grandfather was and how much he influenced me.

And then, there was also Tom Osborne.

I’ll never forget the day he visited my high school.

It threw me for a loop was when he walked into the building, he didn't take an immediate left to the athletic department.

He kept walking down the hallway to the academic office. Coach was asking everyone how my grades were, what my attendance looked like, what kind of student I was, etc.

From that moment, I was sold immediately. 

Coach Osborne knew that I could play football. But, he also knew that the playing days will be over at some point.

He genuinely cared about my ability to succeed in life outside of sports — and that was something that resonated with me immensely; again, education. 

So, not only was I going to play football at Nebraska for the best leader I've ever known outside of my grandfather in Coach Osborne, but I was going to honor my grandfather and finish my college degree.

No matter what.


"Lawrence is uniquely qualified to lead the retail team at Cornhusker Bank in its strategies for enhancement of the retail division."

Barry Lockard, President of Cornhusker Bank, speaking on the hiring of Pete as Vice President

My gifts from above


For reasons I can only ascribe as a gift from God, I always had a high financial aptitude.

I loved it.

On flights in the NFL traveling to away games, I used to read Money Magazine, Wall Street Journal, etc., all the time. 

My teammates would make fun of me constantly.

So, when I retired from the NFL, I knew exactly what career path I wanted to pursue.

First National Bank out of Omaha, Nebraska, was my first occupation outside of the football field. I actually called it First National Bank University because it taught me so much.

I spent 13 years there before transitioning to Bank of the West, where I got to experience banking at a global level.

I then came back to my old college stomping grounds in Lincoln to run the retail division of Cornhusker Bank.

Using the gifts and passion God gave me in banking and finance, I completed everything I set out to achieve once I retired from the football field.

I was certified and licensed in so many areas – and even earned my real estate license – but as successful and accomplished as I was, there was still something I was missing.

No place like Nebraska 


This past December, I made good on honoring my grandfather and finished my degree at Nebraska. 

There are two important components I want people to understand about this.

Firstly, after being on elite college football teams at Nebraska, then playing in the NFL, transitioning to banking, and going into real estate and building an impressive portfolio there, I was blessed to have an incredible amount of success both on and off the field.

But I still had a void.

I wasn't going to be completely fulfilled until I went back to school and finished my degree, just like I promised my grandfather I would do, and what Coach Osborne assured Nebraska would provide for me.

What amazed me when I went back to Nebraska to finish school, and this is the second part I want everyone to understand, you would've thought I was a five-star recruit getting ready to play on the d-line for Coach Rhule and the football team.

Not only am I retired from football, but I'm retired from the banking industry as well after 25 years. I'm close to 60 years old, but when I went back to finish my degree, Nebraska still treated me like I was one of their own – after all these years.

This is what I want young people to realize. 

When you make a commitment to Nebraska, it's a lifelong commitment. 

Once you sign on the dotted line, I'm living proof that they won't forget about you no matter how many years go by.

Once a Husker, always a Husker.

That's not just a bumper sticker.

That's real.

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A lasting legacy 


I think sharing a story about the 1992 NFC Championship game will help bring this all full circle.

Before the game, my mom called, wondering how excited I was to be four quarters and 60 minutes away from playing in the Super Bowl.

While I won't quote my actual response, it all came down to this.

60 minutes away from potentially competing for a Super Bowl, I actually didn't really care. 

Whether I was ever going to play or win a Super Bowl, or even another snap in the NFL, really didn't matter to me much. 

In other words, I was never going to let my achievements or failures on the football field define me.

From a young age, thanks to many lessons I learned from my heroes in Grandpa and Coach Osborne, I always knew there was more to life than football.

My physical gifts to excel on the football field came from God. But my gifts in banking and finance also came from God, which I get to keep unwrapping for the rest of my life and realizing that the degree was in His plans, however delayed but done at the appointed time and according to His will and purpose for my life.

I wouldn't be where I am today without God, my family, the lifelong support of Nebraska, and last but certainly not least, my number one fan — my wife.

With me being retired and home more often, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing for her, but I can guarantee you that I married up and outkicked my coverage on that one. 

I couldn't be happier to have her be a part of my legacy with me. 

Football player.

Business man.

College graduate.

It's a legacy I never could have dreamed of in a million years, but I'm so proud of it.

And when I earned my degree at Nebraska and finished the last piece of the puzzle, I know Grandpa was looking down from above.

With tears in his eyes and a smile as bright as the sun.