For former Eagles tight end Brent Celek, it was Eagles or nothing.
At least, when it came to football.
Play ball for the Birds, or choose another career. For him, the choice was clear. That decision was made in the spring of last year when the franchise released him, and he followed another passion – real estate.
Today, the 34-year-old Celek is part owner of his own company, Pando Mortgage, LLC. It came to be when, last year, he was faced with a tough choice: Take an offer from another football team or go in a different direction.
“This was last summer. I was just thinking about potentially playing football, but if I was going to play, I would have to play for another team, and I didn’t really want to do that,” he said. “I truly enjoy real estate. My wife and I – we built our own home – even though it’s not completed yet, but we’ve gone through the whole process and it’s been a lot of fun.”
Not yet eight months into his new gig as a licensed realtor, Celek now oversees a sales team at Pando Mortgage, based out of Media. Pando maintains a brokerage, mortgage and title company, but Celek said he focuses more on the sales side.
“I just like it. It makes sense,” he said. “It’s been in my family for a long time, and I just finally realized I enjoyed the benefits of it. It’s foundational for everyone to own real estate.”
The origin of the Pando name was Celek’s brainchild, stemming from the reputation of the quaking aspen tree, which is considered to be the world’s oldest, largest and heaviest known living organism, located in south-central Utah.
Celek said that when one tree begins to die, the roots adapt to save it, keeping it alive, and that’s how he envisioned and built his business model.
“The idea is that if somebody goes down, it’s got to come from within…Pando is a cool organism,” he said.
Asked what life’s been like since leaving the NFL, Celek said it’s been bittersweet. He said he misses locker room banter with the boys, camaraderie, and just playing the game.
“You can’t get that anywhere else. I keep in touch with [Zach] Ertz, [Jason] Kelce, [Carson] Wentz, [Darren] Sproles, Beau Allen…Stu Bradley,” and others, he said. “I keep in touch with guys that I’ve played with in the past, guys that are still playing, some of them – I try to. Some of them that live around here, it makes it a lot easier.”
Celek is building his own home in West Chester. He and his wife, Celeste, and their three children will soon be moving there from South Philly (along with his Eagles Super Bowl ring). He said he’s excited about the project, despite critics who may think it’s taxing.
“I’ve enjoyed doing exactly what I want and getting the results that I want and I like to help other people do the same, whether that’s finding their home or building their home – whatever it takes. I can help with any of that stuff.
“I don’t push [sales] on anybody. Ultimately, I’m building a house that, hopefully, when people see it, they’ll say, ‘Oh! Will you come [and] help me?’ That’s the ultimate goal.”