For some young athletes, a lifetime of work and dedication is about to pay off with an NFL contract.
From the predawn starts to long road trips, heartbreaking losses and redemptive homecomings, endless practices and drenching workouts, for some athletes all of that dedication is about to pay off with a professional league contract.
But before players bask in the glory of draft day, and get ready for the next leg of hard work yet to come, set in place a sound financial game plan. Here are three guiding principles for players’ financial long-game plan from our Global Sports and Entertainment Directors, experienced Financial Advisors who coach athletes, stars and some of the hardest working people in the business:
Ahead of the NFL Draft, every player and his family need the right financial coaching staff. Find an agent, a Financial Advisor and a Certified Public Accountant. Some players also start working with an insurance agent, business attorney and an estate attorney. A solid team can take time to build. Look for experience and balance, and people who aren’t afraid to tell you things that you may not always want to hear. Trustworthy advisors will treat players a lot like the way coaches do: as young men with tremendous talent and potential who need guidance, unvarnished advice, protection and a level of independence that supports long-term maturity and longevity.
Athletes tend to have high profiles and need to be careful about who they hire. For example, avoid working with business managers who hype instant wealth through risky investments. Most players live by the maxim “no pain no gain.” The same holds true for their finances over the course of their careers on the field and beyond.
Ask any of our Global Sports & Entertainment Directors who focus on working with athletes for their #1 rule and they’ll say: rookies need to create a budget. Whether it’s a vacation, car, home, or going out at night, or how much you need to save, everything needs to be budgeted. They’ve seen too many players deposit their paychecks in a bank account and never pay attention to how much they’re spending—only to wake up one day to discover they did not build sufficient funds for their future from season to season on to retirement from the pros.
Our Directors often tell their rookie players to begin with the end in mind, both in terms of how long they want to stay in the game and where they ideally see themselves once their professional careers have ended. With that in mind, they can make a plan that ultimately supports that long-range goal, allowing them to focus on what they need to do here and now. Remember: Many players don’t get a second contract. One tackle leading to an injury is all it takes to alter the trajectory of a career; and because speed and strength are king, the road to recovery is often difficult and uncertain. That’s why preventative maintenance, nutrition, and rest are so important, and why players need to listen to their bodies and think about what’s best for them long term. Players can face incredible pressure to play through injury—with their future and millions of dollars at stake. If a minor injury becomes severe, a player can find himself out of a job at the end of the season, with no team willing to sign him. And if a player has prepared financially for that possibility, he will enjoy the breathing room he needs to rest, recover and figure out the next play.
On Draft Day, many young players aren’t thinking about turning 25, let alone what their life will be when they’re 45 and beyond. The life of a professional football player can be heady. Many achieve celebrity status at a young age when they can easily lose sight of the goal line way down the field of his career. With so many people telling him what he wants to hear all the time, it’s critical that he has a team of advisors who will always tell him what he needs to hear to keep him at the top of his game.