The real reasons why NFL players go broke

Being an NFL player can be a great job that comes with a lot of perks. But after retirement a harsh reality sets in for many of the athletes who went from rags to riches -- they go broke.

But Jack Brewer, a former NFL star who played for the Philadelphia Eagles, in collaboration with Fordham University, wants to give professional athletes an opportunity to reinvent themselves through a new MBA program. In his opinion, the root of their money problems begins with how they are paid.

“You’re looking at a professional athlete and no matter who you are, if you’re 22 or 23 years old and you’re working and you get paid over a four-month period it’s going to be very difficult for you to manage your money,” he told FOX Business during an interview on “Mornings with Maria.”

“If you get a lump sum of money, you have a family, like myself, I had two children while I was in college. So I went to the National Football League, I had to feed two kids, I had parents who wanted to help out, and all these other factors that go in, and when you look at it, you’re really not making as much money as you think you are.”

The average NFL salary right now is about a million dollars, according to Brewer, with athletes at the bottom making between $300,000 to $400,000. Brewer said this pay doesn’t go very far, especially for those living in more expensive states.

“If you’re living in New York, you’re bringing in 200 grand a year, you know, it’s tough to live off 200 grand a year in New York City when you’re paying $4,000 for a one-bedroom apartment,” he said.

Ron Johnson, a former wide receiver who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft, and was also a member of the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins, said not only do many athletes fail to save enough during their careers but they also struggle mentally. Johnson sustained a career-ending injury after playing only three and half years and didn’t have enough time to save.

“It’s about if you don’t have the opportunity to save a whole bunch what do you do next?” he said. “And I think a lot of guys struggle mentally. They struggle with identity. Who they are going to be after the league?”

Johnson’s father, Ron Johnson Sr., also played in the NFL and won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He said that because of this his goal was to always play football. But when his father died, he learned that winning a Super Bowl ring isn’t enough.

“When my father passed, those Super Bowl rings are now mine -- so they do nothing after that. It’s just a ring. It sits on my dresser —doesn’t do anything,” he said. “I think that’s what we don’t understand is — it’s not just about having the money — it’s moving it. Where do you put it? How do you grow it?”


Clinton Portis, who played in the NFL for nine seasons — seven with the Washington Redskins as a running back -- believes athletes are taken advantage of.

“Coming from inner-city communities, coming from our neighborhoods, we are taught to go and trust someone who has on a suit and tie,” he said. “I don’t have on a suit and tie for a reason. I’m OK, I’m comfortable in this attire, you know, every time someone comes to you with [a] suit and tie you think it’s authority. You think he’s smarter than you. He’s not smarter than me.”

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