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Retired N.F.L. millionaires just as likely to go bankrupt as the rest of us

Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Bryan W. Stone of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What are my alternatives to bankruptcy ?”


Hall-of-fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp earned $50 million in his football-playing career. In 2012, within five years of his retirement from football, Sapp declared bankruptcy.

Warren Sapp Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer North Carolina Debt AttorneyAthletes who are tough enough and lucky enough to showcase their talents in the National Football League often become some of the most famous Americans—in many cases household names—securing in addition to multimillion-dollar contracts with N.F.L. teams endorsement deals with various sponsors that can mean millions more in earnings.

Not every player gets the endorsements, but over the course of a career—as the Washington Post reports—even a “typical player” earns $3.2 million. Despite this, the Post reports, a much higher percentage of former N.F.L. players end up bankrupt in proportion to the general population. According to the Post, about one-in-six former N.F.L. players files for bankruptcy within twelve years of retirement. That is far lower than a disputed figure from a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, which reported that 78-percent of former N.F.L. players were either bankrupt or in “financial stress” within two years of leaving the league.

Economists who studied the financial affairs of more than 2,000 players drafted into the N.F.L. between 1996 and 2003 concluded that only about two-percent of former players filed for bankruptcy within the first two years of retirement. They also found that retired N.F.L. players are about as likely as other Americans their age to file for bankruptcy. The difference in the age comparison between former N.F.L. players and the general population is not the rate of bankruptcies, economists note. The difference between retired N.F.L. players and other persons their age is that retired N.F.L. players have typically earned far more money.

So what is happening to their money?

The bottom line, according to study-authors Kyle Carlson, Joshua Kim, Annamaria Lusardi and Colin F. Camerer, is that even the rich and famous are susceptible to the allure of overspending. The league’s stars—who often earn far more than so-called “scrubs”—were just as likely to fall into financial straits as other players.

Camerer, a professor of behavioral finance at the California Institute of Technology, told the Post that economic models have long employed the notion that rational people anticipating a reduction in income will take steps to save money. The research on N.F.L. players, who—at least during the pendency of their playing careers—are among the highest earners in our society, “suggests just how difficult it can be for people” to save, Camerer said.

Camerer said the same long-known issues that make it difficult for an average American family to save affect N.F.L. players. “They’re in a position to buy some good [financial] advice if they need it,” Camerer said. “But even for them, with all these millions, it’s a challenge.”

If you find yourself needing the services of an experienced Charlotte, North Carolina bankruptcy attorney, please call the skilled lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC find additional resources here. As professionals who are experienced at handling all kinds of bankruptcy matters, our attorneys will provide you with the best advice for your particular situation.



About the Author

Bryan 1Bryan Stone is a Partner with Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses his practice on all aspects of bankruptcy, including: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 13, home loan modifications and landlord-tenant issues.

A native of Macon, Georgia, Mr. Stone attended the University of Georgia, where he earned a BBA in Banking and Finance, and Wake Forest University School of Law, where he obtained his law degree.

Following law school, Mr. Stone relocated to Charlotte, where he currently serves as Chair of “Bravo!” – a young professionals organization associated with Opera Carolina – and founded the University of Georgia Alumni Association of Charlotte.

In his spare time, Mr. Stone enjoys perfecting his barbeque skills for the annual “Q-City BBQ Championship” and playing softball in the Mecklenburg County Bar softball league.








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