'Everything changes': ex-OSU wide receiver Chris Fields marvels at his greatest creation

Lori Schmidt
The Columbus Dispatch
Wide receiver Chris Fields was at Ohio State from 2009 to 2013, and finished with 31 catches for 384 yards and seven touchdowns.

"When you have a baby, everything changes," said Chris Fields. 

The life of the former Ohio State receiver changed a little over four months ago with the birth of Ava Rose. 

"I can't believe I created another human," he mused. 

Fields was in the delivery room when his wife, Shanda, gave birth — a "crazy" three-hour experience he recommends to all fathers.

"It goes back to being a good team player with your relationship," he said. "You don't want to leave your teammate hanging, right?"

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He admits comparing family life to the brotherhood of the football locker room has its limits. 

"I guess there were some emotional wins when I played," Fields said, "but nothing like being a father and having that emotional attachment to your child. When I'm away from her, I miss her like no other." 

Chris Fields with wife Shanda and daughter Ava Rose

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Chris Fields' football career post-OSU

Fields was at Ohio State from 2009-13 and finished with 31 catches for 384 yards and seven touchdowns, six of which came during his senior season.

But it was his first touchdown in 2012, a 2-yard grab from Kenny Guiton with three seconds to go against Purdue, for which he might be most remembered. The score and resulting two-point conversion forced overtime. The Buckeyes went on to win that one, as well as every other game on their schedule to complete coach Urban Meyer's perfect first season. 

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After college, Fields signed as an undrafted free agent with Washington. When that didn't last, he attempted to play in the Canadian Football League. A cap on the number of players from the United States prevented the Painesville, Ohio, native from catching on there, too. 

"I told myself I can bring more to this world than just football," he said, but added he also had a lot of support transitioning from athletics to the business world. 

Wide receiver Chris Fields was at Ohio State from 2009 to 2013, and finished with 31 catches for 384 yards and seven touchdowns.

Fields entered the fashion world by starting reusable mask company amid COVID-19 pandemic

The first business he entered was fashion.

"I always liked dressing different," Fields said. "I mean, if you looked at my homecoming pictures, you'd crack up laughing." 

He worked in custom suits, measuring clients and walking them through their options in terms of fabrics, lining, monograms, buttons and more. After two years, he also accepted a more corporate role. 

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With this background, he was perfectly positioned to meet a need when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. 

"I started Mask Essential," Fields said. "It's a reusable mask company, and, long story short, we received a license through Ohio State. So I hired a graphic designer to create Ohio State art to print onto the masks." 

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He sold more than 30,000 and distributed far more than that when you include the thousands of masks he donated. The Buckeye Cruise for Cancer received 10% of the sales, a fitting choice of charity given that Fields' brother James is battling an aggressive form of the disease. Members of Ohio State football, basketball and hockey could be seen wearing his company's wares. 

"And I prayed about this," Fields noted. "It was crazy. I prayed that I could create a business that I could make money and could give back to the community, and it's so crazy how the mask business was created afterwards." 

Fields founded new company guiding college athletes after NCAA adopted NIL policy

The vaccine was an answered prayer as well — both for obvious reasons and because it allowed Fields to pursue another opportunity. 

When the NCAA started to allow athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness, Fields established NIL PRO with the goal of providing athletes with "brand management, post-career transition, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, CPA and tax education." These services, and more, would all be supplied by former athletes. 

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He's proud of how the organization has done so far, and prouder still that even as he is educating others about their NIL rights, he's learning, too. 

"I think I appreciate the different sports that surround Ohio State more than I ever had," he said. 

Chris Fields with daughter Ava Rose.

'I just want to slow down time'

Fields has another venture he's excited about, as he is building a cabin in Hocking Hills that will be an Airbnb. The plan is for it to open next year. 

This may all seem like a lot, but Fields has been on the move since he was 13 years old. 

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"I worked with my aunt at a commercial cleaning business, and I was cleaning out a funeral home every Sunday," he said. 

He would use the $30 he made to purchase minutes for his phone. 

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So while Fields' work ethic hasn't changed, the reason he works certainly has. 

"I don't want Ava to go through those times," he said. 

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There's a lot he wants for Ava and at least one thing that the new father admits he wants for himself. 

"I realize the way my daughter has grown from day one until now," said Fields. "It's been so quick, I just want to slow down time." 

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