The story of former professional athletes going bankrupt is an all too frighteningly common one. Men that made tens of millions of dollars in the NFL being broke seems impossible to us normal people, but it happens far too often.
According to a stat from Sports Illustrated, by the time they have been retired for just two years, a staggering 78% of former NFL players will have been forced to declare bankrupt or be in deep financial distress.
Here we are going to take a look at several former NFL stars who made their millions and managed to lose every cent of it. It should be noted that all career earning figures are estimates.
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8. Mark Brunell - $50Million
The first man on our list is a Super Bowl champion and three-time Pro-Bowler. Mark Brunell was a quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Washington Redskins among other teams during his astonishing 19-season NFL Career.
Brunell potentially made more than $50million during his time in the league but managed to lose it all while his business racked up debts of $25 million at the time he filed for bankruptcy in 2010 citing numerous failed real estate and other business investments. It was also noted that he and investors defaulted on several loans.
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7. Lawrence Taylor - $50Million
Like Brunell above him, the great Lawrence Taylor also managed to lose a staggering 50 million when his career came to an end. The greatest linebacker to ever play in the National Football League unfortunately didn't know how to cope off the field and ended up losing all the money he made and nearly his life.
Taylor filed for bankruptcy in 1998, literally to keep a roof over his head. According to reports from the time, Taylor was a full year behind on his mortgage payments at the time of the filing. His troubles didn’t end there though, with a traffic-related arrest in 2009, a case involving prostitution of a 16-year old and three separate jailings for attempted drug possession. Taylor later revealed that he would spend thousands of dollars every day on drugs during his career.
6. Jamal Lewis - $52Million
Jamal Lewis was a star running back for the Baltimore Ravens in the early 2000s. One of the only running backs in history to come close to breaking Eric Dickerson's single season rushing record, Lewis was a real force in the NFL and finished his career with over 10,000 rushing yards after being a 5th overall pick in the 2000 draft.
Lewis signed a $35million deal with the Ravens coming out of the draft, and then earned himself another $17 million when he signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2007. Lewis was declared bankrupt in 2007 with about $10million dollars worth of debt and was recently forced to sell a Super Bowl ring for $50,000 thanks to his ongoing financial difficulties.
5. Chris McAlister - $55Million
Two former Ravens in quick succession now and a player who was actually a teammate of Lewis'. Whilst Jamal Lewis was the Ravens 1st rounder in 2000, Chris McAlister was the player that Baltimore selected in the first round the year before, and he managed to lose more money than his former teammate and he did it even quicker.
McAlister had been out of the NFL for only a year when he told a court that he was broke. McAlister - who was a three-time Pro Bowler and at one time considered one of the best defensive backs in football - was locked in a child support battle with his ex-wife when he revealed that all the money from his playing days was gone and that he had been forced to start living with his parents again and that they were paying him an allowance to get by.
McAlister had a bit of a reputation as a big party guy and, according to the Baltimore Sun, during his career he was "helping a lot of guys" that he knew from his younger years.
4. Warren Sapp - $60Million
Warren Sapp is another great, great player that unfortunately makes it on to the list. The 'Quarterback Killa' was a first round draft pick, was selected to seven Pro Bowls, named a two-time Second Team All-Pro, won Super Bowl XXXVII, was selected to both the 1990's All-Decade team and the 2000's All-Decade team.
In 2012 it was reported that Sapp had filed for bankruptcy in an effort to discharge debt from failed businesses. In these Chapter 7 filings, the balance in his checking and savings accounts was said to be less than $1,000. Sapp claimed that he owned no cars and apparently counted a lion skin rug and over 200 pairs of Jordan's as his assets.
Sapp was recently fired from his role as an analyst featured on NFL Total Access and NFL GameDay Morning on the NFL Network after he was arrested for soliciting a prostitute.
3. Deuce McAllister - $70Million
Deuce McAllister will go down as one of the best power running backs in the history of the Saints, a mean between the tackles runner who pounded the ball down the throat of the opposition and the fans favourite was rewarded for his four 1000+ yard rushing season with a contract worth tens of millions.
While McAllister didn't play out the entirety of the contract he still made a lot of money, which didn't stay with him long thanks to some bad business decisions.
McAllister owned his own Nissan dealership in his home-state of Mississippi that filed for bankruptcy in 2009, just one year after his NFL career ended. McAllister was sued by Nissan for defaulting on their payments and they then sued McAllister again in 2013 after McAllister had failed to pay the settlement claim to Nissan from the earlier lawsuit.
2. Terrell Owens - $80Million
Now we're getting in to the really big money, and the man to kick us off is Terrell Owens, one of the best wide receivers to play the game of football, averaging over a thousand yards a season across his 15-year career.
But Owens was as bad with his money as he was toxic to a locker room. The six-time Pro Bowler and five-time first team All-Pro star spoke to Forbes in 2014 where he revealed he had lost nearly all of the $80million or so he made in his career. A combination of bad investments, large child support payments, and trusting the wrong people have left TO with very little to show for his time as a star player.
The former 49ers and Eagles star forks out $50K a month in child support to four different mothers of his children. He's made a series of bad investments including an entertainment complex that was actually illegal in the state of Alabama. And like many others on the list, the downturn in the economy killed his property ownership.
1. Michael Vick - $130Million
The King of blowing money, ladies and gentleman, is Michael Vick. It turns out that running and operating a dog fighting ring that gets busted is really not good for one's finances. Just ask Vick, who threw away an estimated $130M in actual and potential earnings while spending two years in prison.
But even without his mega contract being terminated and the amount he had to fork out on lawyer fees, Vick was still a complete financial mess. The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback supported an entourage of around 30 or so hanger ons, that he would spend millions of dollars every month on.
In 2008, Vick filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after failing to come to any agreement with the creditors that he owed a total of $12.8million, whilst having somewhere in the range of $10million - $50million dollars worth of debt. In these proceedings it was revealed that Vick managed to spend a mind boggling $18 million in one 23-month period.
Vick has nearly paid back all of his debt however. In the years after his prison sentence, Vick has earned around $49M from the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets and is apparently close to paying off the $18million he owes creditors.
So there's the warning to all young players currently entering the NFL, be careful with your money, invest it wisely, say no when old friends and family members ask for money, definitely don't develop a massive drug habit and don't get arrested.
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