As I sat yesterday watching yet another thought provoking episode of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series about athletes and their mismanaged funds I couldn’t help catching myself jaw-dropped. Since this is a subject that renders many opinions I thought it would be a good idea to launch a three part series to discuss the age-old issue of athletes reportedly “losing everything.”
So here goes part one…
Admittedly I too, although having a short career in the NFL, never thought I would see the faces of those who came forward to speak of their money “woes” as former professional all-stars and potential hall of famers. I mean, really… these guys made a ton of money. MILLIONS OF DOLLARS!
|Keith McCants All-American Linebacker|
and first round draft pick
Some of their stories were horrific…even an admission of guilt/abuse from former NFL superstar Bernie Kosar at the hands of his father and a former teammate of mine and NFL top five draft pick (Keith McCants) admitted to having issues with saying “no” to loaning money that he knew he wouldn’t get back.
Say wha?? Wait, you loaned money full on knowing that you wouldn’t get it back? What the hell were you thinking? Wait…that’s part two of our series – don’t want to get ahead of myself. Let’s get back on track.
Here’s a standard question: How is it that these men were so ill-equipped to handle the pressures and expectations of their immediate fame and wealth as professional athletes? I mean, athletes are taught from day one how to pick up the blitz, turn a 6-4-3 double play and run the perfect pick ‘n roll right? Did anyone have some advice on how to handle the sudden fame and fortune that was literally dumped on them as they entered their professional athletic careers? Or are we to assume that since they were “collegiate athletes” they understand how to manage these situations by osmosis?
Hmmmm….let’s see. A large percentage of professional athletes come from nothing and have no experience with money, money management or how to handle the personal albatross that comes with wealth and fame. Honestly, fame isn’t that big of a deal since most athletes who play at a high level have a level of celebrity that follows them…but once you add money, wealth, greenbacks, paper, green, cash, grip, ducketts, stacks, riches, squilla, dough, ends, flow or whatever your designation for lots of money might be, there seems to be a fundamental disconnect with how to handle the pressure associated with the change.
Everyone… I mean EVERYONE wants a piece of you. Agents, financial planners, investment companies, family members, friends, gold diggers are all in line to get their “fair share” of what these athletes have worked tirelessly for. What’s worse they stand in the proverbial line with a sense of entitlement… as if these athletes actually owe them something! Son of a… can you imagine the nerve? What if your parents decided they were entitled to a percentage of your $50k/year job? How would that go over?
I keep revisiting our institutions of higher education and wondering how much they really educate student-athletes beyond the specific sport they play. No, I’m not suggesting it’s the sole responsibility of colleges and universities to make athletes aware of the wiles that await them upon their exit from the isolation of the NCAA…but what I am suggesting is (again) a more proactive approach to better equipping them to handle what could happen.
Look…it’s no one’s responsibility to manage your money. What you earn is what you should protect right? As I said before the expectation is that these kids (usually 20-22 years old) are supposed to manage funds that mount to what many of us will never earn in a lifetime. Seems almost impossible... Honestly would you expect a podiatrist to perform open heart surgery…?