When you remember that Dez Bryant is the face of the modern National Football League (NFL), then what we are about to say will make perfect sense.
With the NFL players currently locked out – and the threat of violence in major cities if they don’t strike a deal for the upcoming season – many players have resorted to drastic measures to survive, including taking out high interest payday loans.
Adrian Peterson called himself a slave – though he is set to make $10 million in 2011 – but even he would be hard-pressed to acknowledge why so many of his fellow athletes are in such dire financial situations during the lockout and upon retirement.
Perhaps the stories of Vince Young, LaMarcus Russell and Michael Vick – that quintessentially Black quarterback for the new era – can shed some light on the consequences of financial mismanagement and the repercussions of failure to understand compound interest.
Vince Young is a failed NFL quarterback. Though he enjoyed massive collegiate success, Young was a bust for the Tennessee Titans. Young is now having not only his ability to read and react to complex defenses questioned, but his ability to balance a checkbook as well:
Vince Young has been the forgotten man of the quarterback carousel speculation this offseaon.
It’s not because of his play. Young has a lot to work on as a quarterback, but he’s flashed plenty of playmaking ability and production during his career. Young scares decision makers because of, well, everything else.
Len Pasquarelli of the Sports XChange writes that a few teams are “investigating rumors [Young] may have mishandled his money” and are worried about his perceived lack of maturity.
Mishandling money would hardly be a unique issue for a top-ten pick, so a deeper investigation could indicate a larger problem.
We went back and watched Young’s snaps from 2010. It wasn’t all perfect, but his play on third downs and his ability to fit the ball into tight windows was impressive. Take away the baggage, and he’d easily be the top name available this offseason.
If only getting rid of the baggage was so easy.
Nearly four years after JaMarcus Russell(notes) became the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, his playing career may have completely bottomed out after “life coach” John Lucas asked Russell to leave Houston recently, two sources close to the quarterback told Yahoo! Sports.
Russell, 25, and Lucas had been working together since September in hopes of getting Russell into shape for a return to the NFL. The aforementioned sources say Russell, released by the Oakland Raiders last May, initially worked hard, but quickly lost motivation. Recently Lucas tired of trying to get Russell, the top pick in 2007, to respond to instruction and assistance.
After being the top pick, Russell missed all of training camp as a rookie in a contract dispute before signing a six-year, $62 million contract including $31 million guaranteed money.
“It’s such a waste of talent,” the source said. “It’s hard to believe a guy with that much ability could let it just waste. It’s sad. … It’s like they say, you can’t coach desire.”
Reports indicated that Russell is nearly broke. $31 million on what? Purple drank? Jewelry? All-you-can-ribs everyday?
Minnesota Vikings defense end Jared Allen blasted the poor financial decisions of his fellow athletes, saying:
“I think the bigger disappointment was to see the jewelry on these kids’ arms and ears,” Allen said, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. “Are you kidding me? You haven’t played a down in the league yet and thousands and thousands of dollars on these kids’ arms and I’m like, ‘You guys understand you’re getting drafted into a lockout where you don’t know what rules you’re playing under or how much money you possibly might get?’”
What else needs to be said about Michael Vick? A player loved by Black fans and spurned by white fans, Vick lost out on the prime of his career because of his avocation of dog fighting. Not only that, Vick lost millions and went bankrupt:
With apologies to Harper’s Index …
Amount jailed star quarterback Michael Vick spent from July ’06 to July ’08, according to recent bankruptcy papers: $17.7 million.
Amount of that time he was in prison: 8 months.
Total amount of checks he wrote his mother, Brenda Boddie—not counting all her bills he paid—even while in prison: $21,400.
Amount he donated to her church: $327,900.
Amount he gave her for an Easter egg hunt: $700.
Number of Reese’s Chocolate Easter Eggs that would buy: 5,259.
Amount of the check he wrote to Boddie labeled “chump change”: $1,000.
Amount Vick was sentenced to pay to house and care for the 47 pit bulls he and his buddies didn’t drown, strangle, hang, shoot, or electrocute for not winning fights: $928,073.
Average pay, per hour, of Vick’s pit bulls’ caregivers at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah: $14.
Pay, per hour, Vick gets for washing pots and pans at Leavenworth: 12 cents.
Cost of a bottle of Shelter Blend Flower Essence aromatherapy used for “anxious, worried or easily stressed” dogs at the sanctuary: $27.50.
Number of hours Vick would have to work to afford a bottle of Flower Essence: 230.
Cost of a bottle of “Vicktory” wine with a painting of one of the rescued dogs on the label: $40.
Cost of a tin of tuna at some federal prison commissaries: 23 cents.
Number of cars Vick owned at one time: 9, including the ’07 Land Rover for his fiancée; the ’07 Cadillac Escalade for his fiancée’s mother; the ’07 Land Rover for his brother Marcus; the ’08 Mercedes Benz for his financial advisor, David Talbot; the ’06 Cadillac DTS for his pal Rodney White; and the ’07 Ford F-150 he drove himself.
Ironic name of the Lincoln Mercury dealership Vick continues to make car payments to, despite sitting in jail: Freedom.
Sticker price of the ’07 Infiniti Vick bought for his fiancée to keep in Leavenworth so she has something to drive while visiting him in prison: $65,000.
Amount mysteriously categorized as “miscellaneous” over two years: $3.5 million.
Number of fake Dasani water bottle “safes” with hidden compartments that would buy: 116,861.
Amount Vick took as “cash out”: $1,112,664.
Number of $400 ATM withdraws, including $2.50 service charge, that would require: 2,764.
Number of ATMs in Leavenworth penitentiary: 0.
Amount of deal Vick signed with the Falcons in 2004, making him the highest paid player in the league at the time: $130 million.
Monthly average salary in the Arena Football League, where Vick will probably end up playing when he’s released on July 20: $7,000.
Vick’s ongoing cost to support his fiancée, their two daughters, his brother, his mother, a former girlfriend and his son with her, per month: $20,000.
Amount Vick still owes banks in Toronto, South Bend, and Charlotte, for loans he took to invest in a car rental franchise, a wine store/restaurant, and other businesses: $6 million.
Total amount listed as “loan payment” over two years: $33,523.
Amount of judgment against Vick that he still owes former agent Andrew Joel: $4.5 million.
Amount Vick still owes the Atlanta Falcons from his signing bonus: $3.75 million.
Amount the NFL attempted to recoup from Vick’s bonus money: $16.25 million.
Useful name Vick might need when he’s released: Ron Mexico.
Number of homes Vick owned at one time: 4.
Number he lives in now: 0.
Unfortunate name of the investment firm Vick sunk $245,000 into: Leake.
Essential question about Vick now after ruining his life—with bountiful help from leaching family, friends, advisors, agents and his own Hindenburg instincts: Can the chump change?
With a stellar 2010 season, Vick is set to sign a lucrative contract extension and garner multiple endorsements, which is good news for his creditors:
Vick, once a star for the Falcons, signed a franchise tender with the Eagles on Wednesday that could pay him $16 million to $20 million for the 2011 season, barring a lockout. The exclusive franchise-rights tender requires that he receive the average salary of the top five highest-paid quarterbacks in the league.
His pay will increase to the $20 million figure if Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning signs his franchise tender (worth $23 million) or works out a long-term contract.
The “exclusive” tag bars Vick from talking to other teams once free agency begins. However, the players’ union has argued that franchise tags are invalid because of the current labor strife.
On July 7, 2008, Vick filed for bankruptcy, citing debts ranging from $10 million to $50 million. He reportedly still owes his creditors about $20 million.
The quarterback position is the most cerebral of all the positions in the NFL, with the duties of knowing all of his fellow offenses players assignments for a given play and his ability to analyze a defense and quickly make audibles to get his team in a better opportunity to win if the play called is schemed against before the ball is snapped.
Some have questioned if the inability of Black players to dominate this position (as they constitute 67 percent of current NFL rosters) is because of the cognitive demands put on the quarterback.
Perhaps. But remember that Ryan Leaf was, like Vick, Young, and Russell, an All-American quarterback in college. Considered one of the biggest busts in the history of the NFL Draft, Leaf moved on with his life:
Ryan Leaf is up early each day and often out the door before his parents get up. He wants to stay busy, see people if he can. It’s a routine he needs.
It was Manning who went first in the 1998 draft, and Leaf went to the San Diego Chargers at No. 2.
The 6-foot-5 Leaf got a four-year contract worth more than $31 million. His dream of playing NFL football was coming true.
“I was hungry,” he said. “I wanted to be good.”
Life hasn’t turned out the way Leaf expected.
He struggled with fame. That led to infamy. He struggled with drugs. That led to shame.
About a decade ago, the ex-quarterback was among the biggest stories in the NFL. When he was drafted in 1998, the debate was over whether he or Peyton Manning should be the No. 1 pick.
Then he turned into one of the biggest busts in league history. He was booed and benched in San Diego, where he lost 14 of his first 18 starts. He lashed out at fans, journalists and teammates who criticized him. And in the years after he washed out of football, his life got worse – ending in a criminal conviction.
But here’s the thing: Leaf gets it that he fell short, how he disappointed, and how he rubbed people the wrong way with his arrogance. And now in the relative calm of his Montana hometown, under the eyes of his parents, he’s trying to mount a comeback at the age of 34, nine years after his last NFL pass.
Leaf checks his e-mail each day and draws inspiration from prayers he gets from his sponsor for a 12-step program.
Leaf says he is comfortable financially, helped by relatives who know how to invest and worked with him on his $11.25 million signing bonus.
Divorced, he spent time in rehab in British Columbia late last year, and now lives with his parents – although he’s often away selling resort packages as the business development manager for a Canadian company.
Ryan Leaf has been arrested and put on probation, and yet he is financially secure because of sound investments. Remember that within two years of retiring, 78 percent of NFL players will have gone bankrupt or will be under severe financial stress.
There’s a reason why Dez Bryant is the modern face of the NFL. There’s a reason why Ryan Leaf doesn’t belong in the same category of Vick, Russell, and Young.
Though he will never throw a football again for money, Leaf can rest easy knowing that his NFL earnings are earning interest while Russell can’t afford anymore purple drank; Young can’t get a job, like so many other Black people, because of poor credit; and that every penny Vick earns goes to pay back a creditor.
Good luck to Cameron Newton!