I try to spend a lot of time with my clients, especially in their first few years in the league. I also take notice of their habits, and how they spend their time and money. So when friends and relatives talk to me about their perception of the lives of NFL players, I find myself chuckling and correcting their stereotypes of them.
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Here are five surprising things about NFL players:
They don’t lift weights: Players don’t do as much weightlifting as you may think. In college, they did what they were told by the strength coaches, which usually included lifting a lot of weights. They were doing things like bench presses, incline presses, squats and power cleans.
When players get to the NFL they are relieved that they are not required to lift weights year round and many of them gladly try other strengthening methods. These methods include more use of body weight exercises, resistance bands, balancing balls, lunges, yoga, TRX, flipping tires, jumping ropes and even playing basketball.
Both on-season and off-season training are conducted differently from team to team but for the most part, the majority of NFL players avoid heavy weight lifting.
There are still some players who prefer old-fashioned weight lifting but it has been in decline for some time now. Active and retired players such as the Steelers’ Troy Polamalu, TE Tony Gonzalez, Chargers C Nick Hardwick, QB Drew Brees and even WR Larry Fitzgerald incorporates plyometrics into his daily routine. Many others swear that heavy weights can damage joints and shorten careers.
Boring, don’t go out much: The majority of NFL players get married (unofficial estimate of 70% +) while they are playing, or are usually in a serious relationship.
During the season players have less social time on their hands than anyone can imagine. Most players arrive at the facility about 6:30 am and get home dog-tired after 7:00pm three days a week. Six days a week, their time is devoted to film study, meetings, team functions and charitable/community commitments.
Many guys just want to get home, eat, play with their kids or dog and watch a little TV. For the ones who do go out during the season (usually the same five or six per club) and try to create some social fun, they are limited to just one day a week. Overall, NFL players are boring to be around during the season.
In the offseason, players have a little fun at teammates weddings, golf outings and/or visiting their college campus. They’ll get a small vacation in Florida, Hawaii, Jamaica, or Las Vegas. However, their free fun time is usually crammed into three or four weekends out of the year. My 70-year old aunts are more fun than my clients.
Don’t live in the hot spots within their cities: I’m still surprised by this but I’d say less than 10% of NFL players live in their team city hot spots. You would think that if you were young, had time, money and status, and were placed into a new city you would live in the trendiest areas. Players in Miami don’t live in South Beach, in San Diego they don’t live on the beach, in NYC (Jets, Giants) they don’t live in Manhattan, in Atlanta no one lives in Buck Head and in Chicago few live in Lincoln Park or downtown.
Instead, players choose to live close to their stadium and/or workout facility. They live in cookie cutter neighborhoods with spacious lots, big back yards and good school districts.
Don’t have a passport: You would think that having excess cash and three months off from work that you would travel the world. Wrong again! The first time many players get a passport is because their team is playing overseas in London. When players were in college they had spring practice, summer school and summer workouts. Thus, no time for spring break in Cancun or time to study abroad in Spain so they never had a need for one.
The truth is many players like to keep their free time simple and just play golf, hunt, fish, and/or go to the beach. Additionally, many big guys hate flying and have to buy a first class seat for long flights because of their size. A first class round trip to Europe can easily cost $10,000, so that also is a turnoff.
Don’t have wills, estate plans or get prenuptials: Being a former financial consultant, I preach and encourage all of my players to get their fiscal house together. However, many just have an aversion to pulling the trigger. Even though they know and are constantly reminded of the horror stories of wealth squandering, health issues and high divorce rates among players, they just don’t think any of those things will happen to them.