The NFL Player Bankruptcy Problem

March 18, 2016
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The NFL Player Bankruptcy ProblemThe NFL Player Bankruptcy Problem

Many NFL players are dealing with a similar problem. Data from the National Bureau of Economic Research indicates that around 1 in 6 individuals who played in the league end up bankrupt.

Bankruptcy common among former NFL players 

Professional football players, like many professional athletes, get used to massive paychecks during their time on the field. However, after retirement, NFL players often find themselves in significant financial trouble. These individuals, whose careers more often than not fail to surpass 10 years but whose paychecks regularly exceed seven figures, face myriad issues when they walk away from the league. The detachment from their identities and adverse mental and physical affects are often cited. Similarly common, though, is bankruptcy.

For example, Clinton Portis, a former running back who played for the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins filed for bankruptcy in late 2015 – a mere five years after retiring.

Why do so many retired football players file for bankruptcy?

There are multiple potential reasons why 1 in 6 former players’ financial fortune is so short-lived. For example, the average NFL career is similarly brief. After that peak earning period many players come back down to earth in terms of the size of their paychecks. Without proper guidance about how to proceed following retirement from the league, many retired players find themselves hard-pressed to find the sort of long-term gainful employment that will help them avoid bankruptcy.

NFL players also may not know what to do with their money. Professional sports history is dotted with individuals who preferred to purchase material goods and party over sound investments. These athletes often paid a heavy price down the road when the money ran dry. It is difficult, especially for a young person, to determine what to do with all of that cash. Unfortunately, too often do NFL players – both current and retired – make the wrong choice. The NBER study indicated that even athletes who save during their careers may end up spending the bulk of those savings following retirement.

The statistics are unfortunate, but retired NFL players who receive the right advice, manage to adjust their lifestyles and are sufficiently prepared for life after football can make sure they avoid bankruptcy once their playing days are over.

If you’re an NFL player past or present worried about the prospect of bankruptcy, contact an NFL agent or experienced sports law attorney for advice.