Five tips to help make an NFL contract last for life

We’ve been watching the numbers as we follow the 2015 draft and we’d like to offer sincere congratulations to Damarious Randall and all of the other 31 players chosen in the first round. We’ll be keeping an eye on the next six rounds as well. It’s an exciting time for the NFL and we’re optimistic about the upcoming season, especially the way it appears to be shaping up for our favorite team, Green Bay. Transcending all of the immediate celebrations and lingering contract negotiations, however, looms another number that, despite efforts at the high school, collegiate and professional level, doesn’t seem to be going away. It is still true that 78 percent of NFL players face bankruptcy or serious financial stress within just two years of leaving the game, according to a July 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated. We bring this alarming number up at this happy time because we think that number, 78%, should be the first one NFL players think about as they plan their future. Many factors contribute to this sad continuation of mind boggling waste – pressure from family and friends to share the big payday, the general brevity of an NFL career, bad financial advice, and/or the stubborn refusal to accept sound financial advice. With that, and our 30 years of wealth management experience, we offer the following five tips for making that NFL contract money last your life. 1) Understand the significance of unqualified money. You will have to pay taxes on the money you earn and those income taxes will be significant. You can structure your contract to minimize the impact, but, in the end, you must understand that the number on your contract is not the amount that will be going in your pocket. 2) Don’t make any large purchases during your rookie year. The new house, expensive car, and flashy jewelry feels really good in the moment, but they’re all just… | Read More »

NFL contracts require new paradigm in investing

Former Indianapolis Colt Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas set a standard for NFL excellence during his record-setting 19-year career. Sadly, he also ranks among the NFL elite for staggering financial collapse after he borrowed from the City of Baltimore and the state of Maryland to fund a circuit board manufacturing company that quickly failed. Unitas filed for bankruptcy, and launched a financial battle that lasted more than 10 years after his death. Prior to his collapse, Unitas had invested in a string of a risky investments including a chain of bowling establishments, a prime-rib restaurant, an air-freight company and Florida real estate. Unitas’ story of NFL success swiftly followed by financial collapse remains compelling both for its pathos and its prevalence. In 2009 Sports Illustrated published its landmark survey noting that 78 percent of former NFL players end up bankrupt or facing severe financial stress within two years of retirement from football, and in the six years since, things have not improved. The roll call continues to astound: Terrell Owens, Warren Sapp, Adam “Pacman” Jones, Andre Rison, Bernie Kosar, Bart Scott, Tiki Barber, JaMarcus Russell, Mark Brunnell, Lawrence Taylor, Chris McAlister, Deuce McAllister, Vince Young, Sean Salisbury all filed for bankruptcy after lucrative careers. So ubiquitous are the bankruptcy filings, that the NFL revamped its Rookie Symposium program in 2007 to focus on post-career success. The NFL tries, but, according to former NFL player and Packer Hall of Fame member Kabeer Gbaja Biamila, that education only goes so far. “The NFL does its best, but the rookie symposium is only for people who are drafted. It doesn’t include players who sign as free agents,” he said. “And then, the players who do attend aren’t always paying attention. They give them information but these guys are thinking, ‘This will never happen to me. My situation is different.’” NFL players may understand the risk of getting hit on a cross-route, but… | Read More »