NFL Alumni

Plains, trains and the careers of a lifetime

At year's end, Lewis Gilbert will retire from a 20-year career with Musco Sports Lighting and his tenure was as gratifying as his playing days in the NFL

Editor's note: This is the next in a series presented by the NFL Alumni that profiles former NFL players who have transitioned into the business world. 

In August, Lewis Gilbert celebrated his 20th anniversary working with Musco Sports Lighting, an American company that is the largest of its kind in the world.

Gilbert is retiring from the firm at the end of the year. The 66-year old believes it’s time to turn the reins over to the next generation.

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Lewis Gilbert

Gilbert has come a long way from his high school days in Florida and his collegiate years playing for the University of Florida. He was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent tight end by the Atlanta Falcons in 1978. He later played for Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston during a five-year NFL career. When the USFL began playing games in 1983, he stayed in Florida and signed with the Tampa Bay Bandits for two seasons, and one season with the Oakland Invaders.

The Florida native often is asked, if he looked in a rearview mirror, would he do it all again.

"Yes, without a doubt," Gilbert quickly responds. "I know I was blessed to be part of something special, despite the injuries and typical ‘Life After Football’ physical difficulties. I remember my mom sent me a newspaper article when I was a rookie in Atlanta. The gist of the article was that while there were a million high school football players every year there were only 1,260 NFL players in one season. It kind of puts it into perspective to realize how blessed we are to have been able to play this game.”

Gilbert currently is a senior sales rep for Musco after first working in commercial real estate and owning a small commercial long-distance company after football. He joined Musco in 2002 and it was the best business move of his life.

“Musco is a great company to work for,” Gilbert says. “I quickly discovered that not only does Musco have the best product in the industry, but also their customer service is second to none. That was important to me when I joined.”

Gilbert’s first 12 years with the company were spent in south Florida selling sports lighting to cities, counties and school boards.

“I currently work in our transportation and infrastructure division,” says Gilbert, who has been married to his wife Joan for 34 years and they have three children. “I work now on lighting venues for airports, seaports, and train and rail. I kiddingly tell my friends that I work with ‘Trains, Planes and Automobiles.’ Some of them get the joke.”

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This interview originally appeared on

The NFLA consists of 42 alumni chapters with a membership of over 3,500 former players, coaches, team executives, cheerleaders and avid fans. The organization raises money for the Player Care Foundation and local youth charities. Golf plays an important role in helping fund NFLA charities. Each year, more than 150 members participate in the NFLA's annual Super Bowl of Golf.

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