Thursday, January 23, 2014

Athletes & The Money They Blow

Former NFL QB Vince Young filed for bankruptcy this week. He joins a long list of players who have had problems hanging on to their money.

Young grossed $45 million during his NFL career. That's a lot of pennies. As per the Court filing, he now has about $100,000 in assets and between $1 million and $10 million in liabilities. This talented QB had the physical tools to be successful but his issue was between the ears. Now those ears are a lot more poor.

Young isn't alone. According to a few reports, 78% of NFL players are either bankrupt or in financial trouble within 2 years of retirement. For the NBA, it's 60% of players that are bankrupt within 5 years of leaving the sport.

We should remember, though, that not all players make Manning coin and nor do they play for a decade. According to some (not all agree with these numbers), the average career length for a player is as follows:

NBA = 4.8 years
MLB = 5.6 years
NFL = 3.5 years

So players obviously have finite careers and finite earning potential - but some more finite than others. 

On top of that, income can be limited for some. While a guy like Brees makes $70 billion dollars or so, the minimum salary in the NFL $405,000 and a second year player gets $480,000. After taxes, these guys aren't exactly flush with cash.

The median NFL salary is about $800,000 (not to be confused with the $2 million average salary which is a less accurate reflection of where players stand given some of the really loaded contracts).

The reasons players blow their money are complex and varied: disadvantaged background and low socioeconomic status;  terrible investment advice and parasites out to defraud them; short careers; overspending; divorce/child custody payments (Travis Henry has 9 kids with 9 different mommies); legal fees because he killed two people and then drove his white car on the highway engaging in a high speed chase. 

Some or all of these factors can conspire to separate a player from his fortune. 

Below is a list I've compiled from around the web of players who have blown it all (or most of it). Their names are followed by their approximate gross (in millions):

Mike Tyson - $400M
Evander Holyfield - $250M
Allen Iverson - $200M
Michael Vick - $130M
Scotty Pippen - $120M
Antoine Walker - $110M
Curt Schilling - $105M (not clear how much he lost but at least $50M)
Latrell Sprewell - $96M                          
Vin Baker - $93M
Derrick Coleman - $90M
Terrell Owens - $80M
Deuce McAllister - $70 M
Warren Sapp - $60M
Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario - $60M
Marion Jones - $50M
Mark Brunell - $50M
Lawrence Taylor - $50M
Tony Gwynn $50M
Jamal Lewis - $40M
Tiki Barber - $35M
Lenny Dysktra - $25M
OJ Simpson - $20M
Travis Henry - $20M
Muhsin Muhammad - $20M
Bernie Kosar - $20M
Jack Clark - $20M
Rocket Ismael - $20M
Bryan Trotier - $8M
Dorothy Hamill - $2M

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