On his time off during the NFL off-season, a Roncalli High School graduate spent his days doing research and delivering reports to a United States Senator.
Cole Toner recently spent three weeks of his off-season in Washington, D.C., serving as an intern for U.S. Sen. Todd Young.
“It was very cool to work in our nation’s capital for a few weeks, meet some extremely influential people and see how hard they work to serve Americans and to make people’s lives better,” said Toner, 23, a Roncalli graduate who is now an offensive lineman for the Los Angeles Chargers. “I feel I may find myself back here someday as an aide or maybe even running for office. It has definitely piqued my interest.”
The internship from Feb. 11 until last week was part of the National Football League’s Capitol Hill externship program. Now in its fifth year, the program helps current and transitioning players gain experience in a profession they may want to pursue once their playing days are over. The internship program usually attracts anywhere from 20 to 30 players.
Toner, a fifth-round draft selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, is not on his way out of the NFL. He applied for an internship in an attempt to learn more about a new path he might take after his football career is over.
“They asked me who I might want to work for, and I put (Young) first,” Toner said. “I’ve followed him since he was a congressman and it seems to me he’s a guy who works hard for Hoosiers. I got a first-hand look at how the government works, how the Senate works and how the staff operates behind the scenes.”
One of Toner’s responsibilities was to research different countries such as India and Japan and their cultural, economic and political relationships to Indiana. He would also create reports for Young to better prepare the senator for meetings with delegations from those countries in an effort to bring more business to the state.
Toner researched other legislation and issues — such as the Burmese humanitarian crisis, Polish restitution for Holocaust families and the music modernization act of 2018.
“Cole has done a tremendous job during his externship,” Young said in a statement. “He has worked on significant projects, including conducting research that has assisted my work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and crafting decision memos on potential legislation.”
“Young people like Cole are the future leaders of our nation, and I hope more people will follow in Cole’s footsteps and become involved in the political process.”
Toner is willing to put a career in politics on hold — at least for the time being. He remains hopeful his best football days are still ahead of him. He played one season in Arizona before being cut by the team. Toner spent brief stints on the Cincinnati and New England practice squads and is currently serving the same role for the Chargers.
In April, he reports to the Chargers’ training complex in Costa Mesa, California, to begin organized team activities. The team opens its training camp July 30.
“Going to the Chargers definitely rejuvenated me a little bit,” he said. “I definitely think I can play for a few more years, for sure. Football is definitely my priority right now.”