So, you think life would be easier as a millionaire or a multi-millionaire? Well, that's not the case for many of today's young and highly-paid professional athletes. Many of these talented newly-pro athletes come from low-income homes, they lack experience in managing large sums of money and they have big hearts for their friends and family. All three of these examples, and many more challenges, can cause quite a change in both the personal and professional lives of athletes.
Bankruptcy, substance abuse and domestic violence have become such common issues for current and former players that the NFL has made it a requirement for all rookies to attend a four-day symposium each year. Sessions provide players with an orientation to the NFL and address professional responsibility, personal finance, substance abuse, community engagement and other off-the-field challenges that professional athletes can encounter.
The inability of professional athletes to manage their finances in a responsible matter is a serious concern for the NFL. In a recent "30 for 30" episode released by ESPN called "Broke," experts explained that 78% of NFL players are out of money within two years of being out of the game. The question is: "Do you want to live like a king for a year, or live like a prince for a lifetime?"
Let's take a look at some of the accomplishments, spending habits, debts and results of some well-known professional athletes in three different sports.
Vince Young (NFL)
After winning the Rose Bowl MVP twice, Vince Young was one of the most highly-anticipated draft picks going into the 2006 NFL draft. He was selected as the third overall pick by the Tennessee Titans and signed a $58 million contract. He played six years in the NFL for three different teams.
Young opened the Vince Young Steakhouse restaurant in Austin, Texas, and it still operates today. Some of his not-so-smart money moves, however, included $600 shots of Louis XIII at Morton's after home games, spending $5,000 per week at the Cheesecake Factory and purchasing 120 of 130 seats on a commercial airline flight in 2007. Vince also claims to have gotten ripped off by his agent and financial adviser. He's currently unsigned, running out of money and looking for work since his release by the Buffalo Bills in 2012.
John Daly (PGA)
John Daly is a controversial California-born golfer who joined the PGA Tour in 1987. He's known for his long drives from the tee, careless attitude and rocky personal life. He's the only golfer to win two major championships and never be invited to play in the Ryder Cup. Throughout his career his earnings exceeded $9 million.
He claims he drank a fifth of Jack Daniels each day when he was 23 and on the PGA Tour. According to his autobiography, "John Daly: My Life in and out of the Rough," he's lost between $50 and $60 million during his lifetime due to gambling. After winning $750,000 at a San Francisco golf tournament in 2005, he immediately went to Las Vegas and lost over $1.5 million playing $5,000 slot machines.
John battled an alcohol problem up until 2008, when he made a commitment to stop drinking. He's been married four times and says he now only plays the $50 or $100 slot machines.
Dennis Rodman (NBA)
He's one of the most notorious basketball players to ever wear an NBA uniform. Dennis the Menace was known for his colorful hair, tattoos, fierce rebounding and defense, and his ability to sport a dress off the court. He played on the five-time NBA Champion Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. He was a seven-time rebounding champion. His career earnings are estimated around $27 million, plus sponsorships and personal appearances. After basketball, he wrote a book, appeared on celebrity TV and wrestled alongside Hulk Hogan.
Rodman likes flashy, custom-painted vehicles such as his Lamborghini, Porsche and Hummer. He fell behind on his child support payments to the tune of $800,000. He spent millions of dollars on a heavy metal record collection taking up two-thirds of his $8.7-million Malibu estate. It's said that he would consider selling one or both kidneys to avoid selling his collection. His obsession for music has led to purchases of fake copies of autographed albums that he thought were original. His spending habits and frequent run-ins with the law finally caught up with him and he has filed for bankruptcy.
The Bottom Line
Former NFL star Warren Sapp said that some of the best off-the-field advice he ever received was from former coach Tony Dungy. These were Dungy's five pointers in Warren's words: Don't stay out past 1 a.m.; don't go more than 15 mph over the speed limit; avoid drugs and alcohol; weapons will get you in trouble; and be cautious of women you know too well or not well enough. Sapp attended the 2012 rookie symposium and shared these thoughts with the incoming rookie class. "When the arrest does come, you can be sure three out of these five will come with it."