Why Are So Many NFL Players Still Going Broke After Retiring?
NFL players don’t make as much as money as some of their professional counterparts in the NBA, MLB, and NHL. But NFL players do make substantially more money than most average Americans. Those who play at least a few years in the NFL make somewhere in the range of $3 million and should, in theory, be set for life. So why then are so many NFL players having trouble saving their money and staying out of financial ruins once they retire?
A new study was just released by the National Bureau of Economic Research. And in it, researchers reveal that about 16 percent of NFL players are forced to declare for bankruptcy within 12 years of retiring. The good news is that that number isn’t as high as some of the previous numbers that have been thrown out (one study, released in 2009, indicated that 78 percent of NFL players had money issues within two years of retiring). But the bad news is that it still sounds like NFL players are having trouble when it comes to saving their paychecks.
The latest study focused on 2,000 players who were drafted between the years 1996 and 2003. It found that approximately one in every six players during that time period ran into money troubles at some point after retiring. And it sounds like they ran into troubles because they failed to save up enough money to sustain them throughout the remainder of their lives.
“We’ve known that it can be very difficult for the average family to save,” one researcher wrote. “But this is one group that you might think ought to be able to avoid bankruptcy. They’re in a position to buy some good advice if they need it. But even for them, with all these millions, it’s a challenge.”
It’s a challenge that, unfortunately, players don’t seem equipped to handle. It’s why we continue to hear about guys like Warren Sapp and Vince Young going broke—and why the NFL needs to do something to educate players better. A large portion of the blame falls on the players themselves. But they need to be given the right tools to succeed financially. Otherwise, the results of this study are going to continue to be a trend instead of an anomaly.