Recently retired wide receiver Andrew Hawkins visits his alma mater, the University of Toledo, as he looks ahead to his life after the game.
Andrew Hawkins knew his marriage to football would end in divorce—a truism for most athletes.
But he wanted his breakup to be an amicable one. When he announced his retirement from the New England Patriots and the NFL before the start of the 2017 season, he had already earned a Master of Science in Sports Management from Columbia University’s business school during the offseason.
But as Andrew’s winning athletic career was coming to a close he began thinking of what would come next—both professionally and financially. It’s an issue many pro athletes face at some point, particularly as years of high earning come to a close.
Many professional athletes land in financial hardship, not because they don’t earn enough, but because they don’t plan ahead and often end up making poor investment choices. According to National Bureau of Economic Research study, 1-in-6 NFL players will file for bankruptcy within 12 years of leaving the league, despite averaging $3.2 million in earnings over their career.
For Andrew, a 5-foot-6 receiver who had grown used to hearing others tell him how he would never make it as a pro, the importance of planning would be critical because he knew his path to the NFL wouldn’t be a traditional one.
Instead of ingesting that negativity, Andrew focused on creating opportunities. He coached, became a contestant on the football reality show 4th and Long, and played in the Canadian league. All the while, he kept trying out for NFL teams. In 2011, his persistence paid off when he landed a spot on the roster of the St. Louis Rams.
He would go on to play six seasons with a number of other teams including the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. Even so, he never took a pro career for granted, Andrew says. “Don’t wait to prepare. Prepare now, because the future is coming whether you like it or not.”
It’s the kind of lesson that many professional athletes and entertainers learn too late, as Morgan Stanley’s Global Sports & Entertainment team knows all too well. One of the group’s key initiatives is a financial literacy program for sports and entertainment veterans and emerging talent, including collegiate athletes. The goal: Help players in all leagues avoid common financial pitfalls that can come with the sudden wealth that many of them acquire.
As for the next phase of Andrew’s career: “I put myself in a good situation and, like anything else, it’s time to capitalize,” he says.
The guest speaker is neither an employee nor affiliated with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Opinions expressed by the guest speaker are solely his or her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC.
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