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‘Real life’ and football
Former UGA running back compares work as firefighter, player
Newton County Fire Service training chief and former UGA running back Kregg Lumpkin speaks to the Rotary Club of Covington Tuesday, May 31 - photo by Phillip B. Hubbard

COVINGTON, Ga. — Kregg Lumpkin sees a few similarities between his current job training Newton County firefighters and his old job as a University of Georgia and NFL running back.

The major difference, though, is football is “entertainment” and firefighting is “real life” where one wrong move could cost a life, he said.

The Rotary Club of Covington featured Lumpkin as its guest speaker during its weekly meeting on Tuesday, May 31.

Lumpkin’s address began with describing his responsibilities as the training chief, but it quickly transitioned to his career before entering public service. 

“To me, firefighting and football are similar,” Lumpkin told club members. “You wear the gear and you train for the job. 

“The only difference is firefighting is real life and football is entertainment,” he said. “In the fire department, if you do something wrong or unethical, you could lose your life or a crew member could lose their life.” 

Lumpkin was asked during Tuesday’s meeting how it was playing football in the Classic City. 

“Just having the opportunity to play in front of 96,000 every Saturday and working with the people I came in with was a thrill,” Lumpkin said. “Growing with them until our senior year and having friendships that have lasted up until now.” 

A native of DeKalb County, Lumpkin was an all-state running back at Stephenson High School before playing at the University of Georgia (UGA) from 2003-2007. 

At UGA, he compiled 1,700 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns rushing and receiving over his college career. 

Lumpkin graduated from UGA in May 2007 with an undergraduate degree in Consumer Economics. A few months later in December of that same year, he obtained a housing degree. 

In the 2008 NFL draft in April, Lumpkin was selected as an undrafted free agent by the Green Bay Packers. He spent two years with the organization before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Lumpkin and he spent another two years in Florida. 

Once again becoming a free agent, this time it was the Seattle Seahawks who signed Lumpkin in April 2012. He was there for seven months and made the 53-man roster for the Seahawks. However, an injury led the organization to release Lumpkin and the New York Giants signed him in November 2012. 

Lumpkin finished the last six weeks of the 2012 season with the Giants. Throughout his five-year professional career, Lumpkin recorded 166 rushing yards while averaging four yards per carry. Additionally, he racked up 325 receiving yards and averaged 7.2 yards per reception. 

Lumpkin highlighted how he transitioned from college to the NFL and now to his current position. After the NFL, Lumpkin tried out working in real estate and went into education, serving in various roles, but none of them panned out for him. 

“I feel like those weren’t my niche,” Lumpkin said. “Then, in 2016 I applied for every fire department in the state of Georgia and Clayton County was the first one to call me back. Then it was just progression from being a rookie firefighter to training captain here and now the training chief.” 

Now Lumpkin is completely committed to his current role with the Newton County Fire Service — a position Lumpkin’s held since 2021 after his time as training captain from 2019-2021.  

As training chief, he assists in getting the fire and EMT personnel the “needed and wanted” training. Lumpkin also stressed how he’s constantly focused on making the training division the best it can be.