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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!