The only thing that an NFL player is more likely to experience than a concussion, is filing for bankruptcy. Well that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much, as nearly 80% of NFL players will go broke within three years of retirement. Despite the average salary in the NFL being over $2 million, somehow these players are finding a way to blow all of their money shortly after calling it quits.
There are a few reasons attributed to the high rate of bankruptcy among football players, with the number one reason being immaturity. Maybe it’s the immature mindset of pretending to be a high roller, or the ignorant mentality of thinking that there will always be one more big payday. In any case most NFL players have only ever played football, and have limited skills in other areas leaving them at a severe disadvantage after their playing career is over. Some players however rise to the occasion, and make great investments that multiplies their wealth tenfold.
Today we will be looking at 20 players and how they either managed their NFL earnings into a booming business, or busted broke. As always feel free to leave your opinions in the comments below.
20 Boom: Michael Strahan ($54 Million)
Michael Strahan is still one of the most successful former NFL players, despite leaving one of his television shows, and losing nearly half a dozen endorsement deals. To clarify, Strahan is leaving Live with Kelly and Michael, because he is being brought on as a full-time anchor for Good Morning America. As a stipulation to his GMA contract, Strahan will be forced to drop all endorsement deals which include Subway, Dr. Pepper, and Metamucil. The former New York Giant will however be allowed to keep his clothing deal with JC Penney, and will still be featured on Fox on Sundays.
For Strahan’s efforts, the 2007 Super Bowl champion will double his salary from ABC going from $10 million to $20 million, and add to his $55 million net worth. With the added exposure of being on GMA full-time, Strahan is hoping that his line of affordable suits takes off.
19 Broke: Mark Brunell ($100,000)
During his 17 year career in the NFL, quarterback Mark Brunell was able to rack up $50 million in contracts. Brunell wasn’t just given his money, he earned every penny that he got, with his resume listing three Pro Bowl trips, a Super Bowl championship, and every major passing record for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Brunell’s story is a bit different than others on this list, as his initial investments were actually very good. His company, Champion LLC, only suffered major losses after the housing bubble crisis in 2007.
In an attempt to combat the crisis, Brunell pumped his own personal money into his company, covering loans and legal fees for years. The burden proved to be too much for the former Jaguar, and led to the downfall of his other investments in food establishments. In the end Brunell lost nearly all of his money, leaving him with barely enough to scrape by. He currently is reported to have a net worth of $100,000, which is largely due to the success of his football camps.
18 Boom: Jerry Rice ($55 Million)
What does being the best wide receiver in NFL history get you? How about a cool $55 million net worth for your troubles, at least that is how it worked out for Jerry Rice. If you examine Jerry Rice’s last big contract before his retirement, you can really see how the NFL has changed over the past few years. Some players in today’s NFL have bigger signing bonuses than Rice’s entire contract in 1996; $32 million. Though it would be the last “big money” contract that the long time 49er would sign, it wouldn’t be his last big payday.
Since retiring Rice has secured multiple lucrative endorsement deals, including high profile spots with Visa, All Sport, and Gatorade. Besides his commercial deals, Rice has written two separate books about his life, and is a co-host on Sports Sunday on NBC. Rice even had his likeness used for a Nintendo Wii exclusive game called Jerry Rice & Nitus' Dog Football; it’s no maddent but it helped add to Rice’s portfolio.
17 Broke: Bernie Kosar ($100,000)
Bernie Kosar has kept a pretty low profile for himself since retiring from the NFL in 1996. Despite leading teams for the Cleveland Browns for eight years, Kosar actually saw his greatest career highlight by winning Super Bowl XXVIII with the Dallas Cowboys; he was Troy Aikman’s backup. You would think with a first round draft selection, 12 year career, and a championship ring to his name, that Kosar would be living the high life right now in his retirement years. Unfortunately for Kosar a series of bad decisions and investments would cement his future, and cause the former millionaire to file for bankruptcy.
It’s hard to fault Kosar for losing most of his money, as his personal accountant was someone who he thought he could trust; his father. Kosar’s father had a bad habit of draining his son’s account, paying for extended families phones, cars, and mortgages. Though his father no longer handles his finances, Kosar is still feeling the burden of his choices, barely being worth six figures.
16 Boom: Brett Favre ($100 Million)
Before he was sexting lewd photos of himself to Jenn Sterger, and pretending to retire a few times, Brett Favre was a really good quarterback in the NFL. The Green Bay Packers legend was so good in fact, that his name still carried enough weight to hold on to his endorsement despite the scandals he was apart of. Besides the huge money that he made during his 16 year career in the NFL - being the first player to ever sign a $100 million dollar contract - the future Hall of Famer had plenty of lucrative side endorsements.
Favre has appeared in commercials for companies like sears, Wrangler, Remington, MasterCard, and Nike. Ironically enough, you wouldn’t be able to tell that the Mississippi native has a net worth of over $100 million, as his normal attire reflects his everyman persona. It’s safe to assume that when you have held or currently hold every major quarterback throwing record, you are entitled to a few extra bucks outside the league salary.
15 Broke: Lawrence Taylor ($100,000)
There are few athletes who invoked as much fear from opponents as Lawrence Taylor did in the 1980s. If you are unfamiliar with his body of work, just Google “Joe Theismann’s leg”, and you will get a full understanding of what the greatest linebacker of all time was capable of. During this time, Taylor was the highest paid player in the NFL, signing a $4.6 million contract extension in 1992. Taylor’s recklessness on the field were reflected off the field as well, with the former New York Giant spending endless amount of money on drugs and alcohol; LT himself claims that he would sometimes spend thousands of dollars daily on drugs alone.
LT would also spend his hard earned cash on hookers… not for him, but for the opposing players. Taylor figured that if he could keep his opponents up all night, then he could take advantage of their sluggish nature. The investment doesn’t seem to have been worth it, as if he would have saved his money, maybe he wouldn’t have had to sell his Super Bowl ring in 1998.
14 Boom: Jim Brown ($50 Million)
Jim Brown is not only one of the greatest running backs of all time, but many would argue he was the single greatest player in NFL history. If Brown was around in modern-day football, he'd easily be worth eight figures, but Brown played in an era where professional sports wasn't quite as lucrative as today. Despite making the Pro Bowl every season he played and setting NFL records, his career earnings in the NFL only amounted to $400,000.
Fortunately, Brown knew how to capitalize on his fame and keep raking in money well after his playing days were over. He hung up his cleats while still at the top of his game to pursue a career in acting. He was able to secure roles in The Dirty Dozen, well as Three the Hard Way and I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. He's gotten acting roles for close to 50 years, making his film debut in 1964 and his last role came in Draft Day in 2014. Brown has also written books and served as a color commentator on CBS back in the 70s.
13 Broke: Andre Rison ($50,000)
When Andre Rison came into the NFL in 1989, many analysts predicted that the Flint, Michigan native would have a stellar career; they were right. During his 12 year stint in the league, Rison strung together a pretty decent career, making the Pro Bowl five times in the 90s. The wide receiver even managed to capture a Super Bowl ring during his stint with the Green Bay Packers in 1996. After it was all said and done, Rison retired from the NFL in 2000; he did however sign a one year contract in the CFL in 2004, where he became a Grey Cup champion.
Even after hearing all of his accomplishments, you may still be asking yourself “who is Andre Rison, and how do I know him?” Well Rison is now most famously known for being prominently featured in ESPN’s 30 for 30 special Broke. Rison detailed his exploits as a player in the NFL, explaining how he lost all of his $19 million that he earned as a player. One reason could be that he spent $1 million on jewelry alone, or that he once bought three cars during the same NFL season. Currently sitting at $50,000, Rison isn’t nearly worth the amount that he may want others to think he is.
12 Boom: John Elway ($145 Million)
Former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway was no stranger to winning during his time as a player in the NFL. Likewise when Elway made his way into the Arena Football League as the owner of the Colorado Crush, he won the AFL Championship within two years of purchasing the team. After the AFL folded, Elway set his sights on his former team, becoming the general manager for the Denver Broncos in 2010; his executive leadership helped the Broncos win a title in 2016. The general theme here is that Elway knows his stuff, and has invested time and money into the right things.
Outside of football, Elway invested his earnings into successful car dealerships and restaurants. Elway’s first chain of car dealerships were so successful, that he sold them for over $85 million in 1997. It’s no wonder how the former Bronco’s net worth is now just shy of $150 million, despite being taken for $15 million in a Ponzi scheme back in 2010.
11 Broke: Deuce McAllister ($50,000)
They say that the average NFL player is broke in two years; well Deuce McAllister was an overachiever, and did it in one. The former New Orleans Saints running back was able to clear over $70 million during his eight years in the league, but wasn’t able to hold on to any of it. It seems that the Deuce fell into the pitfall of owning a car dealership, a problem that plagues many former athletes. McAllister’s sole ownership of a Nissan dealership was problematic to say the least, with the Super Bowl champion owing nearly $7 million on the dealership by the end of 2009.
Since losing most of his playing money, McAllister has picked up a new job as a color analyst for the New Orleans Saints radio broadcast team. 2016 will be his first full year in the position, and may add to his current $50,000 net worth.
10 Boom: Joe Montana ($80 Million)
Joe Cool has done just fine in his post-NFL life. He hasn't done anything too extravagant since earning money as an NFL player, but he has secured endorsements and has just generally been very smart with his money. He has a legacy that's unmatched in the NFL, having secured four Super Bowl rings, three Super Bowl MVPs, and two regular season MVPs. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Montana has kept most of what he earned in his playing career and has always been wise in holding onto the money that he made throughout his career.
At 60 years old, Montana still resides where he made a name for himself, in San Francisco and is enjoying the good life. He owns horses and even produces his own wine under the label, Montagia. You'll also see him appear on the occasional commercial today.
9 Broke: Terrell Owens ($0)
Terrell Owens made an astounding $80 million during his playing career in the NFL, $80 million of which is gone. That’s right, one of the greatest receivers in the history of football is currently sitting at a net worth of 0. Owens attributed his significant loss of money to three factors in an interview in 2012; bad investments, child support, and trusting too much. While the bad investments could have taken a positive turn eventually, his child support payments may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for Owens. In 2012, Owens was reportedly paying $44,600 per month in child support for his four children.
Owens has proven to be resourceful since retiring from football, starring in multiple reality television shows, and hosting his own podcast. These non-football endeavors have helped him stay somewhat afloat during his post NFL career. More recently the former 49er great has taken to the fashion world, launching his athletic apparel line “Prototype 81”.
8 Boom: Peyton Manning ($165 Million)
While Peyton Manning just retired this winter, his fortune continues to grow by the day and it's hard to imagine him ever going broke.
Here is your challenge of the day, turn on any television station and let it play for a few hour and keep a tally of how many times you see Peyton Manning. Thank goodness this isn’t a drinking game, or you may not be able to make it through the rest of this article. Manning, who signed his last two contracts for $90 million each, earns an additional $12 million each year from endorsements alone. In fact as of March of this year, Manning has appeared in 88 television commercials.
Believe it or not, Manning could have actually made even more money during the last year of his NFL career. Prior to the 2015-16 season, Manning decided to take a $4 million pay cut to help out the team, and also turned down a one-day contract to retire with the Indianapolis Colts. Manning hasn’t even been out of the league a year yet, and has already turned down analyst jobs with major networks… it’s not like he needs the money. There's even talk of him eventually becoming a part-owner of an NFL team.
7 Broke: Warren Sapp (-$1 Million)
Warren Sapp was selected to go into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2013, cementing his football legacy for generations to come. Sapp helped revolutionize what position of defensive lineman, perfecting the three-technique style of play to the NFL. Number 99 isn’t just all talk and skipping through huddles, Sapp actually is one of the only players in the NFL to be featured on both the '90s and '00s All-Decade teams.
Enough about his resume, let’s talk about his missteps that have landed him into so much debt, that there are conflicting reports about how much he is actually worth. While his current assets are a shadow of what they once were during his playing days, some websites actually list the Pro Bowler as being in debt over $1 million. Most of his financial troubles seem to stem from his 2012 bankruptcy claims, along with his firing from the NFL Network following an arrest for soliciting prostitution. To add insult to injury, Sapp has reportedly lost all of his championship memorabilia from college, and the pros. Ouch.
6 Boom: John Madden ($200 Million)
Of course many sports fans remember Madden’s days as the Super Bowl winning coach of the Oakland Raiders, or even his time as a color commentator for the NFL on all four major television networks. However thanks to the rise of personal video game consoles during the 1980s, John Madden became a household name. In 1988 Madden lent his name and likeness to a football video game for Electronic Arts, that would go on to dominate the video game industry for almost 30 years. The John Madden Football franchise has been one of the most successful media empires, selling over 50 million copies of the game.
With a net worth of over $200 million, you’d better believe that endorsing the video game franchise has been good to John Madden. Not to mention that Madden is still the voice of Tinactin, and also has deals with Outback Steakhouse, and Ace Hardware.
5 Broke: Vince Young (-$1.5 Million)
It’s hard to say whether or not Vince Young’s financial troubles came about due to the NFL lockout, or due to his own irresponsibility. In truth his 2014 filing of bankruptcy was probably a result of both of the previously mentioned things, as if he wasn’t in the habit of spending millions annually, he may have never lost his guaranteed $25.7 million.
If ever there were a poster boy for irrational spending, Vince Young would be front and center. Unlike most players who went broke by making bad investments during their career, the former Tennessee Titan is one of the few to actually lose his money by only spending it. Some of his more insane purchases include a weekly tab of $5,000 at the Cheesecake Factory, and buying every single seat on a plane so that he could collect his thoughts. The worst part for Young is that during the aforementioned NFL lockout, he took out a loan for $1.5 million with Pro Player Funding; he hasn’t paid it back yet.
4 Boom: Roger Staubach ($600 Million)
Way back in the day, before guaranteed money or endorsement deals, football players had to take up second jobs to support their families during the offseason. Legendary quarterback Roger Staubach wasn’t an exception to this rule, as the two-time Super Bowl winner and Heisman Trophy winner supplemented his NFL income with a modest real estate salary. What started as a side gig quickly became a huge money maker for the Dallas Cowboy, with the Staubach Company becoming a staple in Texas.
The company quickly became the a staple in Texas, providing residents with commercial and retail spaces in high end areas of the state. Staubach was able to work for decades to make the company worth over $680 million, and in turn raise his own net worth to $600 million. Though most of his money was made through his real estate business, some was earned through outside deals and endorsements.
3 Broke: Johnny Unitas (???)
Johnny Unitas is easily one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game of football, with a legacy that is cemented in the minds of most. On the field the Baltimore Colt legend was a master of managing the game, bad sadly that management didn’t translate off the field. Unitas tried to leverage his fame and “fortune” to start a few businesses; a chain of bowling alleys, restaurants, and a real estate company. In attempt to make it to the big time in business, Unitas purchased National Circuits Inc., a company that made printed circuit boards for computers and cars.
The company must have been ahead of it’s time, because within two years Unitas defaulted on his loan, despite receiving help from the Maryland State government in the venture. The legal ramifications of his failed company were so bad, that the Unitas estate was actually still in litigation after his death in 2001.
2 Boom: Jerry Richardson ($1.1 Billion)
If you are asking yourself “who?” right now, don’t worry you aren’t alone in not knowing about former Baltimore Colts running back Jerry Richardson. Readers from the Southeastern U.S. region may be a little more familiar with Richardson who owns a small local team named the Carolina Panthers. Yup, the 1959 NFL Champion became not only one of the first former players to own an NFL team, but also one of the first athletes to become a billionaire. Playing during the earliest era of the the NFL, Richardson didn’t acquire his wealth until after his playing career was over. The football mogul invested heavily in the food industry during the decades after his retirement, turning his $4,744 bonus money, into a $206 million empire.
Richardson reinvested his earnings from the food industry into the expansion Panthers in 1996, and two Super Bowl appearances later, he is the sole owner of a team estimated at $1.1 billion.
1 Broke: OJ Simpson (???)
When OJ Simpson retired from football, it seemed that the world was at his fingertips, securing endorsements and acting roles soon after. The sky was truly the limit for the Hall of Fame running back, until the brutal murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994. The murder, which OJ was accused of committing, instantly negated all of Simpson’s endorsements, and stunted his income and net worth. Prior to being arrested, Simpson was worth an estimated $25 million. Though he was found not guilty for the criminal actions that led to his estranged wife’s death, he was eventually found liable in a civil case that saw him responsible for paying the victim’s families $33.5 million.
For those of you keeping track at home, that puts OJ at a -$10 million past his estimated net worth. Because of his outstanding debt, Simpson’s actual net worth is hard to estimate. This is especially true since he was arrested in 2007 for committing armed robbery, in an attempt to collect some of his old memorabilia that was auctioned off.