The pending lockout of NFL players is expected by some to be a matter of history repeating itself. Team owners, hungry to earn an even larger profit from their business ventures, are going to keep the players off the field until they get what they want. Some might naively believe that the NFL Players Association has the bulk of the negotiating power in this battle of egos. After all, they represent our favorite athletes and the famous guys that we all want to see on Sundays, right? Sorry, that’s just not the case.
WATCH COVERAGE OF THE NFL TALKS HERE
The truth is that the players are going to take a financial beating unlike any other. Team owners can go years without income, so although they stand to lose money when the league shuts down, they are not sitting around wondering how they will pay their car notes. Players, on the other hand, are notoriously under-educated and horrifically bad at managing their money (some of us have been misled into believing that athletic success is a replacement for academic achievement). If history tells us anything about how the lockout is going to go, I expect players will give in after about three weeks.
I thought I would lay out some quick financial tips for NFL players who are trying to figure out the do’s and don’ts to remember during the lockout. Some of the advice, while applicable during the lockout, can also be applied as lessons learned from other athletes who’ve created their own financial demise. I’ll also admit that only the most trifling among us are the ones who violate these tried and true principles, but there are far too many athletes who are dead set on destroying themselves financially:
1) No more baby’s mamas please
Yes, I know you’re a stud. I know that the women love you. In fact, I know that you can probably have sex with some of the hottest women imaginable. But what you may have forgotten is that children come from sex, and that kids are expensive. The most notorious case might be New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie who, according to the last count, fathered 9 kids with 8 different women (but that was the total last fall, and it appears to be an evolving number).
Cromartie actually needed the Jets to front him a half-million dollars to make up back child support payments before playing a single down. It is therefore no surprise that Cromartie was one of the first players to be outspoken about his anxiety over how quickly the lockout will come to an end. While Cromartie’s case is not typical, there are too many athletes who seem to forget that the child support system has no sympathy for a man with a bunch of kids and baby’s mamas. There are quite a few men, Cromartie included, who will be unable to pay their child support obligations during the lockout or after their careers are over.
2) Avoid illegal activity
It may sound like a stretch, but the distance between the villages of hip-hop, sports and illegal activity is not all that great. Rappers like to make music about drug dealers, as well as attend sporting events so they can hang out with athletes after the game. Cases in point would be the close friendships between the rapper 50 Cent and boxer Floyd Mayweather, or Jay-Z’s friendship with LeBron James. It is also not a coincidence that both Jay-Z and 50 Cent love to rap about their days of selling drugs.
This peculiar connection has actually led to quite a few athletes (both former and current) actually dealing drugs in order to make extra money. Examples would include Lorenzen Wright, the former NBA player who was found dead in the woods after allegedly being murdered by drug dealers. There is the case of Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, the star wide receiver for the University of Iowa, who was arrested after being accused of running a dope spot.
There was also Johnny Jolly of the Green Bay Packers, who was indefinitely suspended from the NFL and faces 20 years in prison after being found in possession of enough drugs to distribute to a small army. As much as I hate having to acknowledge irritating stereotypes, there are far too many young athletes who are influenced by the corner dope dealer.
3) Take your butt back to school
Even if you are a true scholar-athlete like the late Dave Duerson of the Chicago Bears, a little more education never hurts. The average NFL career is less than four years, so instead of living happily ever after with all the money you can handle, you’ll probably end up as a twenty-something year old retiree with a broken-down body.
If you are one of the many black male athletes who was whisked through the educational system without getting what you need in order to survive, think again. When your career is done, there will be almost no other way for you to earn the kind of money you’re earning now unless you have an education. Individuals like DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFL Players Association, has used education to boost himself into a multi-million dollar opportunity. You go much further in life by being smart than you do by being athletic. Use this free time to get educated.
4) Don’t take on anymore debt
As an out-of-work NFL superstar, you’re likely to find yourself being approached by loan companies offering you quick fixes for your financial situation. I am not one to say that taking on debt is always a bad thing, but if you’re borrowing yourself into a coma in order to maintain Bentley payments or to pay for an Hawaiian vacation, you might want to think again.
5) Start saying no to relatives
I know you might have made yourself into the financial Superman for your family, but you must understand that assuming this kind of economic responsibility can be detrimental to your long-term fiscal health. You might believe that you’re obligated to be the savior for every friend, cousin and sibling who has “temporary” financial problems, but that’s simply not true. The ugly reality is that when you find yourself under the nasty thumb of financial devastation, there’ll be no one coming around to save you. Therefore, you might do yourself some favors by learning the art of saying the word “no.”
The NFL lockout is a reminder that even a high paid prostitute is still a prostitute. By only focusing on the glitter of professional sports without positioning ourselves to be owners and captains of our own destiny, we are only committing ourselves to a more sophisticated, less brutal form of slavery. Black folks still haven’t learned that there is a big difference between being free and being independent. We gained our freedom in 1865, but still depend on others to get what we need. That’s one big reason that the owners are going to control the game in the upcoming negotiation.