Young, wide-eyed, impressionable and rich as fuck.
When it comes to this year’s NBA & NFL prospects, the new drafts have a lot to prep for when it comes to managing their newfound fame from keeping their money-making body in the best shape possible to learn how to properly manage their funds.
Going from a Division 1 teen on scholarship with a stipend, to getting checks of unspeakable amounts can be a shock to the system. In Plaxico Burress’ letter to the NFL Draft Class published at Players’ Tribune, he touches on what it’s like to become a “millionaire overnight” and the hard lessons he learned.
In preparation for this year’s NBA and NFL draft classes, CASSIUS rounded up a few lessons so these young athletes can live like princes forever— instead of kings for a few years.
1 DON’T LET YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY FREELOAD.
Seeing how much you net (and gross) that first check is a moment filled with excitement. But remember, an increased cash flow comes with increased responsibility. When cousins start to come out of the woodwork asking for money, it can be hard to say no. In his letter, Burress recounted the moment it all happened to him: “So I took care of them, because they were family. And I was always taught that family was more important than anything.”
Even Kobe Bryant had the same experience upon being drafted. After giving money away to people, he realized he should have been investing in them. “I said INVEST. I did not say GIVE,” he wrote. Giving people money holds them back from pursuing their own dreams by benefitting from yours. Perhaps family members have great business ideas, or a future to invest in by paying a college loan. But giving away money shouldn’t be done in excess.
2 SAVE ENOUGH BREAD TO COVER PAY GAPS.
Pro tip: The season doesn’t last all year so you don’t get paid all year. According to CBS Sports, NFL players typically receive their entire salaries, over the course of the 17-week regular season. If they make it to the playoffs they receive a bonus, but it’s a fraction of their usual pay outs. For example, Alex Smith, the Kansas Chiefs quarterback, usually makes $700,000 after each game, but for a Wild Card game he’ll only rake in an additional $23,000.
So these newly drafted kids have to learn how to budget the last check they receive in December until July’s training camp, or get an offseason side hustle. According to the NY Post, A.J. Francis, Miami Dolphins reserve defensive tackle, had no problem finding something to occupy his time during the 2015 offseason: he became an Uber driver. “I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket,” Francis suggested. After all, according to the NFL Player Association, the average carrier works just 3.3 years. So, like the infamous Chappelle Show skit goes, “You need to diversify yo bonds.”
3 IT TAKES A TEAM TO WIN, ON AND OFF THE FIELD.
There’s no “I” in team—whether that team is on the field with or without you. Like any good team, everyone has a set of skills that someone else hasn’t mastered. The same goes for an athletes’ handlers. A business manager, personal assistant, banker and financial advisor should all be part of your circle of confidantes, according to City National Bank. The whole group should be familiar with each other and in constant contact with the same goal in mind: to make sure the athlete is livin’ well. Forever. Take a look at Oakland Raider Marshawn Lynch, in 2016 Business Insider reported that he spend none of the $49.7 million he made during his career by living off endorsements.
4 JUST STAY OUT OF TROUBLE.
This one is pretty simple and goes without saying, but getting into legal trouble is more of an injury than tearing your ACL. Your ligaments can strengthen after a tear, but your reputation may never recover. Legal problems can get you suspended without pay and make you lose huge endorsement deals that net you more money than an actual league contract.
And legal problems aren’t just occurrences that go on outside the locker room. They can also result from what goes on behind the locker room doors. An incident involving New York Knick’s Joakim Noah is but one example. He got caught using a substance found in some over-the-counter supplements that breaks the NBA’s anti-drug policy. Noah’s punishment was a 20-game suspension without pay.
P.S.: Don’t be afraid to ball out every once in a while. You made the money— so spend some of it. In the words of the NFL great Neon Deion Sanders, “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.”
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