Written by: D.J. Johnson
The NFL is not as lucrative as it appears on Sundays.
Matthew Cherry experienced it firsthand.
After graduating from The University of Akron, Cherry spent three seasons with four different NFL teams before his career came to an abrupt end.
At 25 years old, he retired.
It was then that he fell back on his education. He looked to find a second career while many of his classmates were looking for their first.
Nearly six years later, after Cherry had completed his film “The Last Fall,” he brought it from Los Angeles back to the city that first launched his new profession.
Debuting at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX, the film has seen its fair share of success.
It was shown at The Student Union Theater on Saturday.
“I always joke and say I’ve only had three jobs since I’ve graduated,” Cherry said. “I was a football player, I was a production assistant, and I was a director.”
As a production assistant, Cherry worked his way through the business on shows like “Heroes” and “The Game.”
He broke into directing through music videos, working with artists such as Jazmine Sullivan, Dwele and Snoop Dogg.
“I always tried to set myself up so that whenever I got done playing ball, I’d be able to transition and work in my field,” he said.
Football never strayed too far.
Cherry began developing an idea for a film that would closely reflect his own life.
As he put it, “Write what you know.”
Cherry ran with that philosophy, and the picture has gone from an idea to screens across the country.
“The Last Fall” tells the story of a man struggling to make a life out of the game he loves.
Family, money and a love interest all enter the picture and add to the drama.
Throughout the movie, parts of Cherry come through in the character of Kyle Bishop, played by Lance Gross, who reflects on his college days and states that he played at Akron.
Cherry’s days after college clearly had a lasting effect.
“People think that every football player is a millionaire,” Cherry said. “I wanted to humanize athletes.”
Cherry is living proof that the average career length in the NFL is just three years, and his point is loud and clear.
The film has finished its run in Los Angeles with record success, and will continue with runs in Atlanta, Washington D.C., Dallas and New York City.