Even though the average NFL career lasts roughly three years — and the league doesn’t offer guaranteed contracts — there is ample evidence that the longer a player plays, the more likely he is to ignore the financial realities of his world. Some don’t fully grasp that eligible retirees can’t touch their pensions until they’re 45 years old. They can’t cash in their 401(k) plans until they’re 59½. For a player whose career ends in his early 30s, that’s a long time to be hurting for cash.
Some have a hard time comprehending other aspects of money management. When the recession hit in 2008, one league source said former Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis actually walked into the locker room and complained about having to curtail his spending. “Nobody told me this recession affects everybody,” he famously said that day.
There was a story on ESPN this weekend about how most NFL players find themselves in financial ruin after they retire from football. One study from Sports Illustrated found that 78 percent of NFL retirees have “gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.” It just goes to show you that earning a bunch of money doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you’re doing with it. Also, it’d help if these players actually listened to their financial advisors instead of firing them whenever they hear some advice that they don’t want. For example, maybe you shouldn’t be spending $39,000 a month if you have $2.5 million in the bank, because that sort of spending isn’t going to last you very long.