The average household income in the United States is estimated to be right around $56,500. For a professional athlete, that salary is obviously much higher. While the NFL doesn’t quite pay its players as well as some of the other professional leagues, you can still quickly become a millionaire by playing the most popular sport in the country.
On average, NFL players make around $2 million per year, and the average career is right around 3.3 years. That should be enough for most players to make more than $6 million, which even after taxes is more than most of us will ever see in a lifetime. Thinking about all of that money, you might wonder how you could go through all of that, especially in just a few years.
Between trying to battle inner demons, giving away money to family and friends that have their hands extended or making poor business decisions, the money can leave faster than you might think. That’s the case for many NFL players, as it’s estimated that nearly 80 percent of former players have filed for bankruptcy in some form. Bankruptcy doesn’t necessarily mean broke, however, as some rich people use it to protect certain business assets. This list, however, shows some of the former NFL players that lost all of their money, and here are 15 sad cases.
16 Deuce McAllister
A former first round pick out of Ole Miss, Deuce McAllister had a very promising NFL career with the New Orleans Saints. McAllister made the Pro Bowl in his second and third seasons, which was highlighted by a 1,641 yard and eight touchdown season in 2003. McAllister remained with the Saints until his final year in 2008.
In 2009, it was reported that McAllister was filing for bankruptcy, owing a total of $6.6 million for the car dealership that he owned. McAllister had a pair of dealerships in Mississippi, but cars would not move from the lot. When the financial crisis happened, McAllister was left with a lot of unsold cars and a lot of unpaid debt. McAllister eventually liquidated the dealership’s assets in 2012, but had to sell his house along the way.
15 Chris McAllister
Another McAllister (though not related), Chris McAllister was also a first round pick back in 1999 with the Ravens. McAllister had nine interceptions in his rookie season, and would end up making three Pro Bowl rosters in his 11 seasons (his final being in New Orleans in 2009).
McAllister shocked fans in 2011 when he revealed that he had not already gone through all of his money, but was actually living at home with his parents. McAllister was on the hook for $11,000 per month in child support payments, which had to be reduced when he couldn’t make them anymore. McAllister was known as a big time partygoer that had no problem blowing through money during his playing days, but now his parents pay for his living expenses.
14 Keith McCants
It’s always sad to see a draft bust, especially when they spend money early in their careers like they’re going to be around forever. Keith McCants is one of those players, as he was drafted fourth overall in 1990. McCants would play for three seasons with the Buccaneers, then split time with the Oilers and Cardinals in 1994 before wrapping up in Arizona in 1995. Overall, he had just 13.5 sacks in his six seasons.
Things haven’t been going so well for McCants since he retired, as he has had multiple bouts of substance abuse problems and a dozen run-ins with the law. McCants received advice to put his signing bonus away to live off of and have fun with his salary in the meantime, but McCants didn’t take that advice. Instead, he is broke these days and trying to control his demons. McCants has said that “I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me,” though.
13 Dermontti Dawson
Not even Hall of Fame players are safe from money problems, such as center Dermontti Dawson. Dawson spent his entire NFL career from 1988 to 2000 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He would make 181 starts, reaching seven Pro Bowl teams, six All-Pro rosters and eventually found himself in Canton.
When most of us go into debt, it’s usually to the tune of a few thousand and maybe even six figures in some cases. For Dawson, however, he filed for bankruptcy in 2010 with a whopping $70 million in debt. At the time of his filing, Dawson had just $1.4 million in total assets, putting him into an insurmountable hole. Dawson has defaulted on several loans, and now has to live modestly just to put a tiny dent into his massive debt.
12 Andre Rison
A journeyman wide receiver in the NFL that had some solid seasons, Andre Rison would reach five Pro Bowls after being a first round selection by the Colts in 1989. Rison would play for a total of seven teams in his career, finishing with 10,205 receiving yards. He also added 84 touchdowns through the air.
Rison is one of those people that has warned the younger generation of football talent about spending money on material goods. Rison has said that he went through seven figures on jewelry alone during his playing days, and said that he wasn’t putting any money into his account, just making withdrawals. Rison racked up more than $300,000 in past-due child support as a result, but that number has been dropped to $1,000 per month because of his low income these days.
11 Luther Elliss
The first round picks seem to continue, this time with the 20th overall pick in 1995, Luther Elliss. Coming out of Utah, Elliss would spend his first nine years with the Detroit Lions, collecting 27 sacks and 205 tackles. Elliss made two Pro Bowls, and spent his final season with the Denver Broncos in 2004.
By 2010, the millions that Elliss had made while playing football started to lose his assets because he could no longer afford them, including his house. Elliss started to lean on people around him (including churches) to help pay the bills. Elliss said that he wasn’t going to end up being one of the people that blew through his earnings, but couldn’t avoid it in the end. Interestingly enough, Elliss didn’t spend a dime on flashy jewelry, drugs or gambling. Instead, it was multiple properties, having 11 children and no income after football.
10 Vince Young
After having a fantastic rookie season, we all thought that Texas Longhorn legend Vince Young was in line for a fine NFL career. It would be filled with ups and downs, however, as he played just six seasons (five in Tennessee and one in Philadelphia). The former third overall pick would finish with 8,964 passing yards, 46 touchdowns and 51 interceptions.
If you’re going to blow through millions of dollars at one establishment, you would probably think it was a gentleman’s club, right? Hooters at the very minimum. For Young, though, it happened to be the Cheesecake Factory. The former quarterback would spend thousands of dollars each week at that restaurant, as well as T.G.I. Friday’s, all while buying jewelry, alcohol, cars and even commercial airline tickets so that he could have the plane for himself. Without the NFL providing income, it’s been tough for Young to land back on his feet.
9 Irving Fryar
Not many wide receivers have been able to play in the NFL for as long as Irving Fryar did. The top overall pick in the 1984 NFL Draft spent time with the Patriots, Dolphins, Eagles and Redskins over the course of 17 seasons. Fryar collected 12,785 receiving yards and 84 touchdowns in his career.
It became pretty clear to the law that Fryar was strapped for money, and tried to come up with a scheme to make up some of his lost money. Fryar and his mother started applying for multiple mortgage loans at a time, using the same property as collateral. Whether or not Fryar had intention on paying the loans back fully, he only made a handful of the four loans that he was approved for. The act got Fryar sent to prison for five years, as he was sentenced in late 2015.
8 Bernie Kosar
We go back-to-back with first overall picks, this time with the top overall pick in the 1985 NFL Supplemental Draft. Bernie Kosar out of Miami had loads of potential, and strung together four winning seasons in a row from 1986 to 1989. Kosar spent nine seasons with Cleveland, and also had brief stints with the Dolphins and Cowboys. All in all, Kosar had 23,301 passing yards, 124 touchdowns and 87 interceptions.
For the most part when we say poor on this least, we at least expect former NFL players to have a few thousand left in the bank. That’s certainly not how it was for Kosar, who filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Kosar said that he had made a lot of money after retiring, but it turns out that he was carrying just $44 in his checking account. He was also making just $1,175 in income each month, but had to pay $15,000 per month in child support.
6 Leon Searcy
Yet another top overall pick (this time in 1992) that couldn’t avoid bankruptcy, Leon Searcy joined the Steelers out of Miami to play right tackle. Searcy didn’t start in his rookie season, but ended up missing just one game over his final seven seasons in the league. Searcy joined the Jaguars in 1996 for the second half of his career where he made one Pro Bowl.
Searcy would receive some massive contracts in his NFL career, but blew through his millions of dollars on frivolous purchases. Searcy admitted that dinner and drinks were always on his tab, and he would buy only the most luxurious items like limousines and suits. When his career ended, though, Searcy owed a lot of money for cars, child support and more as creditors came calling. Almost completely broke, Searcy had to settle taking a job with Florida International University as a coach that was making just $30,000 per year, well below the average American.
5 Mark Brunell
Searcy’s teammate in the late 1990s with the Jacksonville Jaguars also ran into some financial troubles. Quarterback Mark Brunell had his best seasons with Jacksonville, where he was a three-time Pro Bowler that finished with a 63-54 record. Playing for four other teams, Brunell totalled 32,072 passing yards with 184 touchdowns and 108 interceptions.
Like many others, Brunell found himself filing for bankruptcy after his playing days. Was he buying too many expensive cars or champagne bottles? Nope, it was just a series of really bad investments. Brunell had to file for bankruptcy in 2011, saying that he had nearly $25 million in debt and only around $5.5 million in assets. Brunell bought properties with the intent on selling them, as well as several Whataburger franchise stores. Brunell is making money by being an analyst and coach, but not enough to cut that debt.
4 O.J. Simpson
The former Heisman Trophy winner out of USC that was taken first overall in the 1969 NFL Draft was a generational talent. Regardless of what happened off the field, O.J. Simpson took the NFL by storm as he made six Pro Bowl teams and won an MVP award en route to a Hall of Fame induction with 11,236 rushing yards and 61 touchdowns.
You probably remember already about the whole O.J. Simpson case that happened over 1994 and 1995. Two years after his acquittal on murder charges, Simpson was slapped with a civil court settlement where he haid to pay $33.5 million to the family of Ronald Goldman. Simpson tried to make money by selling books and sports memorabilia, but all of his money went to the Goldmans. Simpson still owes them millions more, and is currently in prison in Nevada for robbing someone over a sports memorabilia deal.
3 Lawrence Taylor
Not many defensive players have had careers that were as highly decorated as Lawrence Taylor. Taylor, the former second overall pick, would make 10 Pro Bowl teams, eight All-Pro teams and was an inductee in the 1999 Hall of Fame class. In his long career (all with the Giants), Taylor collected 132.5 sacks.
Taylor’s first big financial flop came back in 1998 when he filed for personal bankruptcy when he was facing foreclosure on a house that had just about $350,000 left owed. While that sounds like a lot, it should be nothing for one of the greatest NFL players of all-time. Taylor had developed a problem with substance abuse, and made some poor business decisions along the way. With the amount of times he’s been in trouble with the law, too, the fines from the court can’t help his net worth.
2 Travis Henry
Travis Henry didn’t quite have the NFL career that O.J. Simpson did, but he still did make a Pro Bowl in 2002. Henry spent four seasons in Buffalo, two in Tennessee and finished with Denver in 2009. Henry had three good seasons in the league, and finished with 6,086 rushing yards, 951 receiving yards and 40 total touchdowns.
The quickest way that you can lose all of your money is by having a ton of children with a lot of different women. Henry didn’t quite get the memo, and ended up having nine kids with nine different mothers. Henry revealed in 2009 that doing so led to him losing all of his money because of huge child support payments. Henry would end up getting thrown in jail for failing to pay support on some of the children, and admitted that he had spent $250,000 on jewelry at one point.
1 Warren Sapp
One of the best defensive tackles out of the Super Bowl era, Warren Sapp stayed in-state after college when he went from Miami to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sapp spent nine seasons in Tampa Bay before spending his final four in Oakland. The Hall of Famer was named to four All-Pro teams and seven Pro Bowls, collecting 96.5 sacks and four interceptions along the way.
When Sapp filed for bankruptcy in 2012, people were curious to see how much he had in assets. It turned out that he only had around $800 left in his bank account, as he had blown through millions upon millions of dollars. Sapp had to have an estate sale where he sold all of his personal goods, which included hundreds of pairs of sneakers. After selling off much of what he owed, Sapp was still about $250,000 in debt. It wasn’t until 2014 that Sapp got back into the black, but he’s nowhere near rich right now.