Most NFL players retire before the age of 30. Very few continue on in the league after the age of 35.
So, this leaves a lot of time on relatively young people’s hands. Which begs the question, what happens after retirement?
It’s a complex question that differs from player to player, but many have one thing common: financial troubles. Let’s use NFL great, Warren Sapp as the first example. Sapp played for nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – who are +6600 at sports betting sites to win the Super Bowl in 2019– won the Championship with them in 2002, and spent the 2004-2007 seasons with the Oakland Raiders before retiring.
13 years in the league. That’s a good run. In that time Warren Sapp earned roughly 82 million dollars. Things seemed to be going well for Sapp. Even after he retired, he was making over a million dollars per year as a TV commentator. Despite all this, by 2012 he filed for bankruptcy. Sports Illustrated released a 2009 report that showed 78 percent of all retired NFL players are in financial trouble or go bankrupt within two years of retirement.
That’s an extreme number!
Ten years later it hasn’t gotten any better. There is still an incredible amount of financial duress for retired players and evidence of the trauma these players undergo has been put in the spotlight like never before. CTE, which massively contributes to mental health issues and violence – including domestic violence– is a factor that aging NFL players have to contend with. Addiction is another commonly seen adverse side-effect of a career in the NFL. Drugs and pain killers are par for the course to be able to strap those cleats on each week and take another beating.
We don’t have to look hard to find examples both retired and active, Junior Seau, Aaron Hernandez – who was still playing when troubles occurred and upon his autopsy was found to be suffering from advanced stages of CTE– Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, Jovan Belcher, Chad Johnson, etc.
There are many different factors and varying issues, but there seem to be a lot more people with problems than people leading happy, healthy lives after the NFL.
Rob Gronkowski stated that watching the people around him blow through their multi-million dollar contracts inspired him to save his money. Gronk is recently retired, so we hope that beats the odds and does not fall into the previously stated 78 percent
On the bright side, that does leave 22 percent of players who enjoy success after retirement. Marcus Allen, Myron Rolle, Tiki Barber, Tony Romo, Jon Elway, Peyton Manning, Howie Long, Deon Sanders, and Bill Romanowski, are all great examples of players who managed to keep it together after retirement.
So, it isn’t all doom and gloom for NFL players at the end of their playing careers. That said, a recent article by 6Seconds brought up a good point. The life of professional athletes is lauded and looked at as the epitome of success, yet, a recent study showed that former NFL players were 15 percent below a control group of non-athletes on the life success scale – questions regarding financial stability, love, happiness, and physical & emotional wellbeing. So maybe it is time we redefined our vision of success, furthermore, maybe more can be done to help professional athletes prepare for life after their career … ahead of time.