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EXCLUSIVE: NFL Athletes Rewrite The Playbook On Money Management — 'Players Doing Great Things And Establishing Generational Wealth'

Published 17/04/2024, 17:50
© Reuters.  EXCLUSIVE: NFL Athletes Rewrite The Playbook On Money Management — 'Players Doing Great Things And Establishing Generational Wealth'

Benzinga - by Anthony Noto, Benzinga Editor.

Usama Young recalls entering the New Orleans Saints locker room “bright-eyed and bushy tailed.” The in-demand safety had just been selected in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

“It was a new world for me,” Young, 38, tells Benzinga. “I got that windfall of cash.”

The average NFL salary is around $2.8 million, according to the sports publication Diario AS.. The median salary is $860,000 per year. And the salary cap, as of 2023, hovers close to $225 million — a 7.9% increase over 2022.

“Up until then, my understanding of money was, ‘You save it to spend it,” Young says.

That’s not a bad strategy. Too often, however, NFL stars fumble their cash almost as quickly as they grab hold of it. Or, perhaps they fall victim to investment advisors who don’t have their best intentions in mind.

“I did see some guys invest in things that ended up being bad investments,” Young says. “They lost a lot of money.”

That’s where NFL Player Engagement can help. For about 20 years, the group has been putting together a variety of off season programming. Among the most popular events center around financial literacy and wealth management.

If players want to learn about taxes, budgeting, starting a business, investing in real estate, legacy and family planning or even cryptocurrency — odds are, there’s a seminar dedicated to the topic.

Each initiative aims to improve the financial decision-making ability of players and help them navigate the numerous pitfalls that come with fast fame and fortune, Young says.

One of the most recent events kicked off at the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, March 28. Both current and former players were in attendance and presented with an opportunity to seek financial advice or guidance.

“These are things you typically don’t think about while in college,” Young says. “You got this windfall that will stop, and it takes a number of people to provide support.”

Usama Young. Photo courtesy of Danny McDonnell of Mac Media Productions.

A Problem That Has Plagued Athletes ‘Forever’ A who’s who of current NFL players and legends joined Young at the NYSE workshop to commemorate Financial Literacy Month, including former linebacker Brandon Copeland.

Like Young, Copeland wants to help the next generation of NFL athletes.

“We all tend to learn from our mistakes and because financial education is not taught in most schools, it leaves the majority of players having to learn about their money through trial and error or experimentation,” Copeland says. “This can be avoided.”

When rookie NFL players launch their careers, first-round draft picks typically sign for four years. These deals can be worth up to $13 million. Second-round can earn between $6 million and $12 million; and third-round picks can earn at least $5 million.

This is a dizzying amount of wealth for most people, let alone a young athlete fresh out of college.

“I made the biggest money decisions of my life while in the NFL,” Copeland, who announced his retirement last year, says. “Having the opportunity to help younger versions of me make the best decisions for them and their families is an honor. The NFL has empowered me to help solve a problem that has plagued some of my brothers forever.”

Brandon Copeland, left, with Ndamukong Suh. Image courtesy of NFL

NFL Risk & Reward The fact that tenure in the league is so short — three years on average — makes preparing for the future all the more important, Young says.

“When it came down to seeing others lose on some of their investments, I reached out to my financial advisor and we started to talk more about risk and reward,” Young says of his days as a rookie.

He proceeded to share his newfound savvy with others in the locker room.

Today, through the NFL Wealth Management Workshop, Young continues that dialogue with each incoming class. Events like the one at the NYSE with Copeland demonstrate the importance of peer-to-peer engagement, he says.

Former players including Atlanta Falcon Pat Kerney, San Francisco 49er Kevin McDermott, Philadelphia Eagle Ndamukong Suh, Houston Texans player Adewale Ogunleye and Detroit Lion Cory Procter were also at the event.

“Guys that played the game are now in a place where they’re subject-matter experts and can speak to the importance of making finance decisions that will provide young players with greater security in the long term,” Young says. “Out of these workshops, we’re starting to hear more stories of players doing great things and establishing generational wealth.”

Copeland agrees.

“We have the opportunity to earn life-changing money as athletes,” he adds. “The earlier we can learn how to manage it and manage those who advise us, the higher the chance we walk away from the sport we love with more to show for it than just great memories.”

Now Read: NFL Draft 2024 — A Record Number Of Quarterbacks Could Be Taken In First Round

Image: Courtesy of the NFL.

© 2024 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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