Athletes chosen in NFL draft need to plan for the long game

Wed Apr 27, 2016 5:02pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Chris Taylor

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Every year, the National Football League draft makes a number of strapping young men very, very rich.

Enjoy the moment, lads. But a word of advice from former NFL stars: Start thinking about your next career right away.

"As an athlete, your body is your company - and you're a depreciating asset," said Israel Idonije, a former defensive end with the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions for more than a decade, starting in 2003. "That's why it's important to lay a foundation for life after football, while you're still in the league."

That is exactly what Idonije did, buying a company that supplies communion cups to churches around the world, while he was still suiting up for the Bears. During his last few years in the league, when Idonjie was making the veteran's minimum salary, he was actually bringing in more cash via his side gig.

When he eventually retired in 2015, "I took off my cleats and stepped into the business the next day, because I'd been doing it the whole time," he said.

Pro athletes, notorious for blowing through millions of dollars, should take note. The average NFL career is a scant 3-1/2 years. Waste millions on fancy cars and lavish homes and your retirement future is bleak. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, 16 percent of drafted players filed for bankruptcy in the dozen years following retirement.

"These guys don't realize how quickly doors close, after they stop playing," says Ed Butowsky, a Dallas wealth manager with Chapwood Investments who handles money for many professional athletes.

For the young men who will make the first round of the 2016 NFL draft, and for anyone who might hit it big for a short amount of time, here a few tips about how to prepare for the long game:   Continued...

Feb 6, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; General view of Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos helmets and NFL Wilson Duke Super Bowl 50 football overlooking the downtown San Francisco skyline at sunrise. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports