The average NFL team is worth $1.43 billion and the league is knocking on the $10 billion revenue door.
The NFL is easily this country’s most revered sport. Every Sunday, Monday and now Thursday (begrudgingly) has become must-see TV. The playoffs are a smorgasbord for the senses and the Super Bowl continues to set ratings records.
But with so much money and power, players are still in the poor house. According to a study by The National Bureau of Economic Research, 1 in 6 NFL players go broke within 12 years of retirement.
Think about that. While commissioner Roger Goodell made more than $44 million — which is wildly absurd — battered and bruised NFL vets were filing for bankruptcy.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Players that weren’t accustomed to receiving millions of dollars while they were playing likely won’t change when they retire. And it only gets worse when they hang up the jerseys because they have more free time to spend.
Bankruptcy filings were barely present while players were still in the NFL. But once they retired, the filings increased, “likely due to a combination of players rapidly drawing down limited savings and having leveraged investments.”
This is a big problem. Players nowadays have too many handlers and hangers-on that are on the payroll. Add multiple lavish homes that come with pricey taxes, and you have a cocktail that just cannot be swallowed.
First, players need to identify who their friends and family are. And even when those people are known, that doesn’t they mean they need to be given a financial life raft. Players have to realize that those people will still be your friends without being on the payroll. And if they don’t like hearing it, they never were true friends to begin with.
Next, are the over-the-top purchases. While it may seem posh to buy three multi-million dollar homes, it’s actually a never-ending money pit. Those places will have high five-figure tax amounts, which will cause a huge burden when the high-dollar income stops rolling in.
The NFL has been educating its rookies at its NFL Rookie Symposium since 1997. They’ve taught players the finer points of putting a condom on a banana to maintaining a checking account.
“As a young player, I thought (the symposium) was great, said former Packer and current Jaguars defensive end. “But the attitude of the player has to be right. Personally, the best way I have found to get through to a player is to show him that you genuinely care. You can’t fake it.”
But education is still missing the mark. In order to hit home with the 2015 rookies, the NFL should interview a portion of players that have filed for bankruptcy. And then show that at this year’s symposium. Let the newest crop — headlined by Mr. Questionable Decisionmaker Jameis Winston — learn from the mistakes of the past.
Because simple education isn’t getting the job done. Instead of being able to retire in a simple and relaxed environment, some players must worry about how they’re going to eat tomorrow.
The juxtaposition of so much poverty as compared to the excesses of violence, sex and beer you see every week is completely astonishing.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn