Some of the NFL players we listed below will shock you. Some wont. But reading this will make you think long and hard before you go out and blow your money again on what appears to be a worthy investment. That new video game system? Maybe it’s better just to go outside and throw the football around. That fishing trip to Maui, flying first class, and staying in that five-star hotel? Maybe it’s best to wait a few years, and in the meantime, take a quick drive to the local watering hole.
This article will likely make you appreciate what you have because those who seem to have it all, in reality, often have nothing. At one point in time, you were looking at these star athletes with envy, jealous that you didn’t have their three Lincoln cars of three different colors sitting in front of a multi-million-dollar mansion. But now, many of them look at you, whose seemingly modest life appears both enjoyable and worlds away, with a type of unfamiliar reverence.
The question is, why do professional sports players fall into the rabbit hole? Sure, us common folk may understand the reasons behind player bankruptcy, but often players are oblivious to the concepts from the moment they receive their first pay check to the moment they declare ruin.
Here is the main reason: Often players feel the need and pressure to max out, which means they spend all of their money when they get it. It’s an umbrella concept that encompasses countless other reasons. For example, many players grow up poor, work hard, make it to the NFL, and get rich. It’s the American Dream; however, most don’t know how to manage that Dream, and their finances fall flat. Along with poorly investing their money, players often feel the pressure of spending. The New York Times cited former NFL offensive tackle Roman Oben as a prime example of a player who felt pressure to spend big when he didn’t want too. Players often teased Oben about his Toyota Land Cruiser with 68,000 miles on it.
And despite continued efforts by the NFL to educate players, the reasons NFL players go bankrupt is as long as the massive salaries they once owned.
20. Dick Lane, DE
In 1952, Dick “Night Train” Lane was an army veteran when he stepped into the offices of the Los Angeles Rams and asked for a tryout. He had little to show in terms of football experience, but a small scrap book which chronicled his football journey from high school to the Army. If only his outstanding speed, agility, and work ethic could have helped him navigate his way through difficult times off the field. Illegal substances, drinks, and bad investments eventually brought this future Hall of Fame defensive player down.
19. Raghib Ismail, WR
Not all might be lost with Ismail, which is why he’s higher on this list. Ismail, known as the “The Rocket” for his blazing speed and athleticism, racked up close to $18 million playing in the Canadian and National Football League. However, he lost much of that money when he invested in several poor business ventures, including a cosmetics procedure that supposedly helped the skin better intake oxygen, nationwide phone card dispensers, and tourist shops that sold calligraphy.
However, in 2009, he might have finally found his calling with a company called Bite Tech, which produces a mouth guard that is supposed to reduce head injuries by absorbing impact.
18. Luther Elliss, DT-DE
In 201,0 Luther Elliss, once known to rely on his teammates to protect him on the field, was turning to local churches and friends to protect him from debt after he retired. At the age of 36, the retired Elliss declared bankruptcy after a string of poor investments and hefty debt. He played nine years for the Lions and one year for the Broncos, and earned almost $11.6 million in playing-time salary. Only six years after his retirement, he and his wife filed for bankruptcy.
17. Archie Griffin, RB
Griffin isn’t the biggest name to top this list, but he’s still a name nonetheless who made headlines in the 1970s. Considered by many to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest college football player ever, he did little in the NFL and then even less outside of it. In seven seasons with the Bengals, Griffin totaled just over 2,808 yards rushing and scored only seven touchdowns. In 1982, he filed for bankruptcy because his shoe business failed.
16. Tiki Barber, RB
It’d be an understatement to say Barber fought his way into the NFL. When he was young, a doctor told Barber to never play competitive sports because the latter suffered from seizures and a lung ailment. But Barber overcame the odds, and made it to the pantheon of professional sports becoming the Giants number one running back. He later retired and began working on TV. However, the world he built crumbled when NBC fired Barber for violating a morality clause in his contract, as he tried. While employed, Barber left his wife, at the time pregnant, for a 23-year-old NBC intern, In 2011, he tried to play again in the NFL, but failed.