1) Gross vs. net: It never fails; when my clients get their first NFL check they call me and say something is wrong. They are floored by how much is taken out for taxes and other deductions. Unfortunately, the shock doesn’t resonate long enough. I would say 90% of players have some type of direct deposit or their check gets mailed to their investment advisor and the players never see the net amount. Thus, they think they always are making more money (in gross numbers) than they actually are.
2) It comes too easy and too fast: First it’s a college scholarship, cash from uncles during college, advances and stipends from agents and financial advisors. A large signing bonus before the first snap in camp and making a team. When money comes fast and easy for a young man the assumption is life will always be that way. Players can easily develop a false sense of value of themselves. Many think that starting a profitable business or landing a high paying six-figure cushy job will be easy after football. Why not, everything else came easy right? Wrong! Players have a rude awaking when they can't even land a coaching job after their career ends and don’t properly prepare for starting a second career.
Jamal Lewis recently added himself to the list of former players who have filed for bankruptcy.
3) The cost of vanity: I tell my friends that if I opened a specialized rim shop serving pro athletes, instead of being an agent, I would be a rich man. The same goes for custom jewelry. Unfortunately, I noticed that many athletes associate wealth with material possession. So they feel like the more they have, the richer they are. I would say 90% of all athletes are getting ripped off on auto and jewelry purchases. I had one client have a watch appraised that he thought was worth over the $20,000 that he paid for it. The appraiser valued it at $1,500. The diamonds he thought he had on the watch weren’t real. I did it to teach him a lesson. The obsession to have the latest and greatest toys, the biggest house, the newest car(s) and most expensive clothes is probably the number one wealth killer for professional athletes. As I always say, “rich people have things, wealthy people have investments”.
4) Weak financial counsel: What I mean by this is that most financial advisors, accountants and confidants I met and observed over the years don’t have the fortitude to stand up to their clients in fear of losing them. If they ride their clients too hard about spending the athlete may just fire him or her. So they tend not to make the hard calls and put their foot down on spending patterns. For many consultants, it’s a race to invest the players’ assets before they spend it. Consultants who take their time to educate, communicate and have a way of helping players control spending get an A+ in my book but they are few and far between.
5) Bad investments: There are some intelligent football players who made some really bad investments. The problem is usually compounded when they make a big bet with the majority of their savings on real estate or a business. In addition, many of them sign personal guarantees on loan deals in addition to the investment.
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