How Players and Their Money are Parted in the NFL

Warren Sapp. Image: commons.wikimedia.org

A stunning expose on money and NFL players shows that earning the big bucks doesn’t necessarily mean keeping them.

The book Is There Life After football looks at some of the financial catastrophes to have hit many recent layers.

The average NFL career is only 31/2 years long. Rookies start out earning $400,000 a season, and it just goes up from there.

And while mega starts like Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) bring in a cool $22 million a year, few others reach anything seven close to this.

Many players come from restricted financial backgrounds. So once they’re in the league it’s as though they’ve won the lottery. Before the ink is even dry on the contract they’re out living the dream – and paying for it.

Plus there is an intense pressure to ‘keep up’ with the teammates.

“Around the locker room, players’ cars, clothes, houses and ‘bling’ are constantly scrutinised,’ says the book. ‘If they’re not up to par, they’re ridiculed.”

Roman Oben, a former offensive tackle, is given as an example. He deplored buying and driving fancy cars for their own sake, and so showed up for training in his Toyota Land Cruiser with 68,000 miles on the odometer. He was mercilessly taunted by everyone.

And then there is the guilt pressure put on the high-earning stars by their family and friends. The book is littered with players attempting to help out those closest to them only to find their friend or family member having less idea about how to handle money than they do themselves.

Bernie Kosar, as an example, signed a $6 million contract with the browns in 1985. He attempted to look for an agent to handle his money, but was persuaded to let his father do it. Kosar played and deposited his bonus cheques in the belief his father was paying off his mortgage and bills. He later learned that his own father already had a $1 million contract with the team and that what he thought had been loans to other family members were, as far as they considered them, gifts.

Kosar blew about $15 million.

But worst of all, says the book, are financial advisers (don’t we know it).

“Regulated or not,” says the book, “shady advisers have made quite a mark on the NFL financial scene.

“Before closer scrutiny was instituted, at least 78 players lost more than $42 million between 1999 and 2002 because they trusted money to agent and financial advisers with questionable backgrounds.”

“You think of sharks in the ‘hood, you think of gang bangers and drug dealers You haven’t seen nothing ‘til you step into some of these white-collar criminals,” said one of the authors.

Think of Warren Sapp, during his spectacular career as a line backer he amassed an incredible $82,185,056. And yet he ended up with a bank account showing $826.04. In 2012 he was forced o file for bankruptcy.

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