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Who is the highest paid retired NFL player? The answer will likely surprise you

Frank Schwab
Shutdown Corner

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(USA Today Sports Images)

There's no Michael Jordan among retired NFL players, a player who can sell just about anything many years after his playing career is done.

There's no Pele either, with global icon status, or Arnold Palmer, who has a refreshing drink named after him that he can make money off of.

In Forbes' list of highest paid retired athletes, no former NFL player cracked the top 10. Michael Jordan, to the surprise of nobody, was first at $90 million last year.

But who was the top earner among former NFL player according to Forbes? You might guess Jerry Rice, who has stayed in the spotlight after his career. Maybe Steve Young, because Joe Montana really didn't seem interested in publicity after retirement. Michael Strahan seems to be on our televisions all the time. John Elway had a chain of car dealerships in Denver and a pretty nice job with the Broncos, so maybe him?

Nope, none of them was the top earner among retired football players last year. Any guesses?

Well here it is:

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Bet not many of you guessed Roger Staubach.

Staubach was a Heisman Trophy winner at Navy, the Super Bowl VI MVP for the Cowboys at quarterback, also won Super Bowl XII with the Cowboys and threw for 22,700 yards and 153 touchdowns in his nine NFL seasons. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. And he was just as successful after he was done playing.

Staubach was 12th on the list at $12 million for 2013. He does some stuff for USAA promoting military awareness but isn't a well known pitchman or anything. So what gives? Staubach hit the jackpot in real estate.

According to Forbes, Staubach started a real estate company in 1977 as his Cowboys career was coming to an end. He owned 12 percent of the company when he sold it to Jones Lang Lasalle in 2008. The multi-year payout totaled $640 million. The 72-year-old put half of his share into a trust for his children, Forbes said, and the last payout from the sale was last year.

For all the current NFL players, Staubach provides quite the lesson: Invest wisely now, it might pay off big later on in life.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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