Top 15 Retired NFL Players That Went Broke and Had to Find Regular Jobs

Being a professional football player is a dream that many people harbor in their hearts, even if they’re too shy to admit it. When an athlete is drafted to the NFL, this changes his life forever. Of course, there are the high-adrenaline games, complete with screaming fans, emotionally charged coaches and a host of family and friends. Players also have the luxury of staying in the best hotels when traveling and they’re often sought after to endorse products for a number of reputable companies.

Professional athletes are also known for their tendencies to party too hard sometimes and for being very popular with the ladies. There aren’t too many women who would pass up a chance to date or marry a football player who has millions of dollars.

There’s no getting around it. The role of NFL player is a coveted one. It’s hard work, but the perks that come with this job are pretty sweet. Unfortunately, there are some NFL players who are so consumed in the life that comes with being a professional athlete, that they forget to save for retirement. After all, being a football player is a full-time job and athletes should have a solid financial plan together for when they are no longer able to play professional sports. It’s also essential for NFL players to plan for their financial futures in case they are injured while playing football. According to Fortune, about 16% of players who retire from the NFL go bankrupt. Ouch.

The appeal that comes from living a lavish lifestyle is overwhelming for many, especially football players who come from humble beginnings. These athletes are finally able to have the life they’ve dreamed about and some are helping to improve the lives of their families. However, unorganized spending habits have caused some of these ex-NFL players to go broke and pick up regular jobs. Here’s a list of 15 cautionary tales.

15 Charlie Batch

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Batch was a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers, which should indicate that he has some type of financial stability. However, as of 2011, the former athlete had less than $3 million worth of assets,and debt greater than $8 million. He went into real estate after retiring from the NFL working with a few partners at a development company, but the company defaulted on about 25 properties. Not good. Batch, who also played for the Detroit Lions back in the day, was likely praying that he’d be able to use the remaining $1.5 million on his quarterback contract to satisfy his debts. When the NFL came to a new bargaining agreement, no one was doing the touchdown dance harder than Batch. His career net worth is about $9 million. Batch became a color commentator for preseason games and is the studio analyst for pre-game Steelers coverage for The NFL Today. He is also a professional speaker with the National Speakers Association.

14 Bernie Kosar

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Kosar’s career earnings totaled about $19 million and, unlike many football players, he didn’t waste his money on lavish houses and jewelry while trying to impress women and invite his friends to wild parties. Instead, Bernie Kosar lost a good chunk of his earnings due to his greedy agent and his nasty divorce. Kosar got into real estate after leaving football, but these jobs didn’t turn into the lucrative cash flow that he’d hoped. Bernie Kosar also had a number of loans that were unpaid and, unfortunately, one of those loans was from his team, the Cleveland Browns. So, now he owes a debt to the franchise that used to pay him. Tragic, indeed. Kosar, who sustained a number of concussions during his football career, is now a motivational speaker who often speaks about leadership.

13 Andre Rison

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Rison is a former NFL Pro Bowler. You may also remember him for his sordid romance with the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC. Rison encountered some serious financial trouble after his time in the NFL, and is currently on probation for owing more than $300,000 in child support. After the former football star was turned down for a coaching job in Tuscon, he became an assistant football coach for Skyline High School in Ann Arbor. The head coach of the team states that he grew up admiring Andre Rison’s athletic ability and that the high school players are excited to be working with Rison. Rison is said to earn about $5,000 for his role as assistant coach. It’s not an NFL salary, but it’s better than nothing.

12 Vince Young

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Vince Young played for the Tennessee Titans, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Buffalo Bills before becoming a free agent. He made about $26 million during his NFL career, but started having money problems when he claimed that his financial manager misappropriated $5.5 million of his earnings. It was also reported that Young was spending around $5,000 each week at the Cheesecake Factory his first few years in the league, which cut into his fortune a great deal. Vince Young, luckily, got a job at his former college, the University of Texas, working with the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. He’s not making as much as he did in the NFL ($100,000), but he likely doesn’t have any complaints. It is, after all, a steady job.

11 Lawrence Taylor

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Lawrence Taylor was known for his magnetic personality during his time in the NFL. When he retired, he continued his lifestyle of entertaining women and indulging in drugs and alcohol. Perhaps it didn’t occur to him that this type of life is really hard to maintain when you no longer have a continuous flow of cash. Not to mention, getting drunk and high all the time isn’t the healthiest way to live. The ex-football player even started a company before leaving the NFL, so he could work a comfortable job upon retirement. However, he didn’t know the ins and outs of business investing, and this ended up costing him dearly. Lawrence Taylor even had to file for bankruptcy. This is definitely not the way you want to spend retirement when you’ve given your best on the football field. Fortunately, Taylor transitioned into acting, and is known for his roles in movies like Any Given Sunday and When In Rome.

10 Raghib Ismail

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Raghib “Rocket” Ismail got tricked into investing his money into some business scam when he was playing for the Carolina Panthers. Usually, these “get rich quick” schemes appeal to those who are looking for a way to make some extra money. Since Ismail already had the cash, he was a prime target for people who pretended they were trying to build a lucrative business. Ismail invested in Rock N’ Roll Café, an eatery that was supposed to be similar to Hard Rock Café or Planet Hollywood. However, he’s not even sure that the restaurant existed, which is a pretty good indication that he got duped. He was later the subject of a Sports Illustrated article covering athletes who unwisely squandered their millions. It looks like Ismail wanted to be a small business owner or investment consultant after leaving the NFL, but this plan didn’t work well for him. Ismail is now a motivational speaker, making appearances for the Dallas Cowboys (he was playing for the team when he retired) and giving motivational speeches about financial literacy and the value of teamwork.

9 Muhsin Muhammad

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Muhammad played for both the Chicago Bears and the Carolina Panthers. He was skilled as an athlete, but could have used a bit more lessons in money management. Apparently, Muhsin Muhammad purchased a number of major items on credit, perhaps under the impression that he would get around to paying for it later. However, when it was time for the former athlete to come up with the money, he fell short. Wachovia ended up suing Muhammad for $25,000 worth of credit card debt. Apparently, Muhammad started a record label due to his desire to go into music after leaving football, but his partners spent too much money without making any profits. As a result, Muhammad was forced to sell his house, which apparently had the biggest private aquarium in the Southwestern U.S., on eBay. According to him, Muhammad was preparing for life after the NFL while still in the league. He had his suit in his locker to change into after games, since he often headed to meetings after being on the field. He's since rebounded and is a franchise owner for Wild Wing Café.

8 Luther Elliss

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Elliss played defensive tackle for both the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions. He was a two-time Pro Bowler, but didn’t have as much success off the football field. Luther Elliss was paid over $11 million over his ten-year NFL career, but he and his family had to resort to getting financial help from loved ones and churches just to make ends meet. Mountains of debt and investments that didn’t materialize were the main reasons for Elliss’ bankruptcy. Now, the retired football player travels to promote the Fuel Up to Play 60, which is a children’s health initiative. The movement is sponsored by the NFL and the National Dairy Council.

7 Dermontti Dawson

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Dawson played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and made around $25 million during his pro-football career. However, he doesn’t have much of that money left. This could be due to the fact that creditors are very willing to loan Dermotti Dawson money. Or, it could be a sign that the former athlete is really bad at making business decisions. He spent a few years being a real estate developer after his NFL days, but it didn’t pan out so well. Dawson, who is a seven-time Pro Bowler, filed for bankruptcy in 2010, and he reportedly had nearly $70 million worth of debt. When it was time to list his assets, he included his daughter’s pet dog and his “fake Rolex” on the list. Perhaps he was trying to ease the pain of his massive debt by making a passive aggressive joke. Today, Dawson is part owner of the Washington Wild Things, a baseball team in an independent league, based in Washington, Pennsylvania. After his time in the NFL, also Dawson served as a scouting intern for the Steelers and took a position as an intern coach for the Cincinnati Bengals.

6 Tiki Barber

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Tiki Barber, who made about $35 million during his career with the New York Giants, decided to leave football and become a broadcaster. If you recall, he didn’t do so well during his time Football Night In America and was transferred to the Today Show. The Today Show, which airs on NBC, fired Barber after he left his wife, who was pregnant at the time, to be with his 23-year-old intern. Apparently, he’d gone against a morality clause that was in his contract. He ended up having to shell out a pretty penny in his divorce settlement and begged for a football comeback, which was lackluster at best. Currently, he's working on CBS Sports Radio and was rumored to be considering a role, with his wife, on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, which he denied.

5 Mark Brunell

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Brunell is a football coach for the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, who played for a variety of NFL teams. He made millions during his professional football career, but lost a great deal of it as a result of unwise business interactions, including investing in the Whataburger fast food chain. Mark Burnell made $50 million during his time in the NFL and invested the money in nine business deals, five of which failed. He went into business with two former teammates and invested $11 million to start building condos, but the company still had to borrow $2 million to start building the properties. After the property bubble crash, Burnell lost all the money he’d invested in the business. He tried to cover the loan for years, but it just put him further in debt. He currently works as an ESPN analyst.

4 Chris McAlister

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Chris McAlister was once a cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens and worth $50 million. However, when he went to court to have his child support payments lowered, he confessed that he was living with his parents. That’s how broke he is. He stated that his parents were providing him with basic living expenses and he was negotiating an allowance with them. McAlister’s father, James, also played in the NFL during the 1970s, so maybe he didn’t teach his son how to survive financially after football. This is likely devastating for a man who once signed a $55 million deal. McAlister took a gig as a coaching intern with the Buffalo Bills, working with the team during training camp and minicamp.

3 Warren Sapp

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Sapp is known for his All Pro defensive tackle skills. During his NFL career, he reportedly made around $60 million and was still making a substantial sum as a network analyst for the NFL before he was fired. However, he’s going broke as a result of spending his money on mansions and maintaining a severe sneaker habit. He reportedly owns 240 pairs of sneakers and lists these as assets, along with a painting of a naked woman. Warren Sapp decided to file for bankruptcy after he went into the construction business and accrued over $6 million in debt after a construction deal didn’t go as planned. He says that he chose the wrong construction project and that the timing was bad. Apparently, before the former football player realized that this wasn’t a sound investment, and a huge chunk of his money was gone. Sapp was hired as a commentator on Showtime’s Inside the NFL and as an analyst on NFL Total Access, though he was recently let go from both. He's likely to lose further NFL-based employment after he was recently charged with domestic violence.

2 Deuce McAllister

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Deuce McAllister brought lots of athletic talent to the New Orleans Saints. However, he wasn’t so great at investing part of his $70 million fortune. He started a car dealership. This business venture put him $7 million in the red, which was likely due to him spending way more money than he was making. Things got so bad that McAllister’s home in Louisiana was put up for auction. This took place just one year after he retired from the NFL. Looks like he’ll be spending the next few years looking for a financial opportunity that will keep him from having to experience this type of hardship again. He’s working as a public speaker, so perhaps this will help him regain a solid financial status.

1 Terrell Owens

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Once Terrell Owens was out of the spotlight for playing professional football, he tried his hand at reality television. Now, due to money issues and a series of misunderstandings, he’s no longer talking to his two former best friends, who also appeared on the show with him. A few of Owens’ condos even went into foreclosure, which is a clear indication that he’s having some serious money problems. Terrell Owens has recently signed a modeling contract in an attempt to reinvent himself professionally. Maybe his winning smile and dashing good looks can help to get his bank account back in the black. He was once worth around $80 million.

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