Revamp the rookie symposium. Make a real life “Broke” live to the players at the rookie symposium. Empower and equip the player development directors to have more power like an assistant head coach. Make his meetings mandatory with the ability to fine players. Make sure these individuals are qualified with fiscal skills. Many are not. Give players an option to take their monies over 12 months versus 17 weeks. Have a financial stress hot line and give them a test twice per year on their finances to catch the warning signs of going broke.
I’m sorry guys, but we still have a lot of work to do and you should bear the biggest responsibility. The financial advisory certification program is worthless. Two financial advisors, who recently steered millions of dollars of NFL players into a ponzi scheme and a failed investment in the southeast, weren’t even registered. Two very large agents represented the majority of those players. That should be looked into seriously!
Conversely, having financial advisors certified by the NFLPA gives players a false sense of security. I had a player call me the other day and actually say to me that the advisor he wants to go with was “endorsed by the union”. That’s obviously what the advisor told my client. We need more real world education and life skills programs that are ongoing, accessible and practical. Include parents and wives in any programs and processes.
We need to get out of the way but yet speak up when we see the warning signs. Not all of us are qualified to screen, direct or steer our clients. Preach good habits and be a good example. Some agents/agencies need to stop the massive credit lines (100k to 500K opened the day after their last game), which tells a player its okay to start out with debt before they make a dime.
If you want to get more out of your players, invest into their basic life skills. Head coaches and owners can have a HUGE impact on players’ habits. They can help to shape a locker room culture of frugality, being understated and being professionals off the field. If your players are saving their money, have no financial stress and are being socially responsible, they will be more focused at the work place. The fact is that young players will emulate the habits of older players. Ban gambling on the planes and in the locker room (or at least put a ceiling on it). Send a sincere message backed by actions that you care what happens when they leave the building and when they leave the game. Include parents and wives in the process.
The bottom line is that it all begins and ends with the players. If you want to be a professional athlete, then be that, PROFESSIONAL! The word professional should mean you act professional and handle your business off the field with class and responsibility. The truth is that the people who really truly care about you don’t want you blowing your money, don’t want anything from you, and don’t want to be a apart of your entourage. Therefore, keep them around and get rid of the rest. If you don’t wake up now, you will be the star of “Broke II”.
Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta
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