The at risk checklist

I must have met with over 400 NFL players over the last 27 years as I pitched them to become their agent. When the subject of fiscal responsibility came up and the prospects of potentially going broke after making some money, each and every one said to me with deep conviction, “oh that’s not going to be me!” Yep, they all believed it would be never be them. Unfortunately, the odds are that many of them pissed away their hard earned money. Sadly, many players who are spending wildly still won’t look in the mirror and realize that they are at risk for losing it all.

And here’s why:

For one, they can’t grasp the reality that there will be an abrupt end to their careers. They all think there will be another contract and that they will start saving after they get that “one more thing”. The problem is that there is always another “one more thing” and there is a habit of spending what they are making.

Outside of the obvious reasons we already know why NFL players go broke, there is also a bigger force at work. A force that has been grinding away at these young men (and all of us for that matter) since the first day they could listen to music, watch TV, read magazines and dream about their future.

Living in America, we are programmed to dream, to strive, to succeed and go out and live the American dream of having it all. Unfortunately, we are programmed to show everyone we made it. Mass marketing that is ingrained in our culture, has been reminding us that we need to have certain things as evidence of our success.

Music videos have been preaching to our youth that being at the club, driving a Bentley, showering Benjamin’s on those less fortunate are all signs of being successful. Cadillac and Mercedes spend hundreds of millions to convince us that owning their products are symbols of success. Luxury brand makers try to get our attention by outfitting our idols like athletes and actors so fans will buy their products. In America, the bigger the house, the more expensive the cars, the more shiny the jewelry, it says the more successful we are. If you grow up here in the states, this message is constantly bombarding you everywhere you go.

When anyone at the vulnerable age of 22 or 23 gets the means and encouragement to show their success by owning these material objects as they were taught to do over their young life, it’s usually hard to reverse the behavior. Therefore, to unwind the years of programming young men, in this case pro athletes, we must make them aware of the path they are on may erode away at their financial windfall (large NFL salaries and bonuses).


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