NFL players gone broke

Steve Young, the NFL needs you back.

Not so much on the Gridiron per se, though your legacy as a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers will long be revered in the annals of football history, but as the voice of financial reason for dozens of players who can’t seem to manage their millions.

Indeed, Young, who earned his law degree between seasons during the 1990s and now serves as managing partner of a Utah-based venture-capital firm, is a rare example of post-career success.

Click here for more stars who went bankrupt
Slideshow: 10 NFL stars who went bankrupt

Despite their median $900,000 annual salaries, a surprising number of NFL players (some estimate up to 80 percent) squander their fortunes in the years immediately following their retirement.

In 2010 alone, former Pittsburgh Steelers lineman Dermontti Dawson joined New York Jets backup QB Mark Brunell(notes), who is still on the field, in bankruptcy court.

But they are hardly alone. The NFL is replete with tales of financial fumbles.

In most cases, the players made bad investment choices, spent frivolously, fell victim to predatory advisors or assigned their less-than-qualified friends or family to handle their affairs.

Some also blame their risk-taking DNA, which is an asset on the field, but a liability when it comes to managing money.

But Susan Bradley, a certified financial planner and founder of the Sudden Money Institute, who works with the NFL to develop life training skills, says it’s a fate that would befall most anyone forced to manage overnight wealth.

“Do they have a problem managing money in their professional career? Sure, you would too,” she says, noting players have a narrow window of opportunity (usually just a few years) to earn enough to last a lifetime.

They also face significant pressure to lead a luxury lifestyle and have virtually no free time to focus on finances with the rigorous demands of professional sports.

Too true. But it’s a challenge most of us would love to tackle.

The following 10 NFL players – who lost it all at one point – unfortunately got sacked.

The list:

1. Marlin Briscoe: Slideshow
2. Raghib ‘Rocket’ Ismail: Slideshow
3. Johnny Unitas: Slideshow
4. Michael Vick(notes): Slideshow
5. Deuce McAllister(notes): Slideshow
See more athletes

Slideshow: 10 NFL stars who went bankrupt

Questions? Comments? Email SportsBiz@cnbc.com. Or check out more Sports Biz with Darren Rovell.


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Updated Monday, Jan 31, 2011