We think they have it all — the lifestyle, the fortune, the fame. And it all comes from their level of ability with a ball.
We also assume they stay rich their entire life, but recent figures are undermining that assumption. A 2009 Sports Illustrated estimate said that about 78% of NFL players are bankrupt or facing serious financial problems within two years of ending their playing careers.
The NFL does have a Financial Advisor Registration Program, which was initiated by the players through the NFL Players Association.
“It was created to provide players with an additional layer of protection — not just from poor financial advice, but also from outright fraud. The principal intent of the Program is to benefit the players themselves,” the program’s website states.
One would think that with an adviser, Chad Ochocinco wouldn’t necessarily spend $100,000 on a semi truck, or Michael Vick may have reconsidered his $85,000 fish pond. But they did, and USA TODAY reports that gambling, jewelry, marriages, divorces and child-care payments also are major NFL athlete expenditures.
Nnamdi Asomugha, a cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles who graduated from the University of California – Berkeley with a finance degree, said that it is important to talk finances with kids before they get to college.
His advice for young NFL players about to receive substantial paychecks is to make sure their advisers are vetted by the NFLPA.
“A lot of times, you get financial advisers that can be in it just to get money. They aren’t as educated as you think,” he said.
“While you’re playing, I think it is better to be conservative with your money,” Asomugha said. “As a player, you never know when your time is going to end, and you have to protect your investment.”
Vonta Leach, a fullback for the Baltimore Ravens, had similar advice. His biggest splurge? A 2004 Yukon truck.
“I was on draft, so I didn’t have much money, so I didn’t buy that ’til I made the team,” Leach said. “I was three years, four years in before I really started making my money. I saw the same guys that were first round draft picks and they weren’t even in the league after three years — that’s when you really open up your eyes and start saving your money.”
The advisers, which are external and have to go through an application and registration process in order to be listed on the NFLPA’s password-protected website, are chosen by the players and their agents. The agents “are fully regulated by the NFLPA and cannot conduct business without NFLPA certification and approval. Under [NFL] regulations governing contract advisors, every contract advisor may only refer their player-clients to financial advisors registered in the Program — or risk disciplinary sanction,” according to the program’s website.
Qualified applicants must be able to pass a background check, have a degree from an accredited university, have at least eight years of licensed experience in financial services and possess insurance coverage of at least $4 million.
“Many financial problems also can be skirted by exercising a healthy dose of skepticism. Athletes should be grilling prospective advisers about their fees and asking what could go wrong with an investment,” USA TODAY reported.
This isn’t just a lesson for NFL stars — it can also be applied to the college lifestyle. Between a laptop, books, that perfect outfit for the next football game or fraternity function, it is quite easy to blow through your bank account much quicker than expected.
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