The second lives of football players

On the heels of the news that Warren Sapp — who made over $60m during his pro football career — has filed for bankruptcy, this is of interest:

Through the injury-plagued seasons — the first signs that his career may be coming to a close — and two years after his retirement, Searcy still lived as if he were untouchable. His denial that the end was near became clear in several real estate transactions.

In 1998, Searcy bought a condo in Miami for $865,000. In 2000, he bought a house in Clermont, Fla., for $399,900. In 2001, he bought another house in Baltimore for $870,000. “I was punch drunk,” Searcy says. “It was a facade, what I was living. I still wanted to give people the impression that I was big-time. I’d see the guys who were still in the league in the night clubs, and I had to look the look. I was in character.”

In 2002, the bank foreclosed on Searcy’s Baltimore property for $550,632. In 2003, another bank foreclosed on his Miami condo for $568,263.

Read the whole thing.

  • i am ed

    this is sad.  is there a solution?  do you think this problem can be traced to positions – ie, wr/rb have more trouble than OL/DL?  searcy’s story sounds like a player in the limelight wanting to stay in the limelight…  do guys in the trenches live more reasonably/sensibly because they are wired that way emotionally?

    i would love to see a correlation of financial stability post career vs playing position.  like a VORP rating but you replace a player with a lineman and measure financial success…  haha!

  • This is unfortunate, but I really don’t know that anyone who goes through millions of dollars is worthy of sympathy. I know that the NFL at least makes some effort to educate rookies as they enter the NFL, but it’s fighting a losing battle. Many, many young black men in this country have adopted a culture (hip hop) that makes saving money undesirable. It’s not so much that this culture glorifies wealth as much as it glorifies the image of wealth, which means blowing ungodly sums of money on jewelry and cars. At the end of the day, as long as the NFL makes a good faith effort to educate these men as they enter the league, that should be good enough. Stupid people are going to behave stupidly.

  • Brent Barnes

    This isn’t about being black. It’s about growing up without money. You hear the same thing happen with lottery winners as well. Are we really that surprised that giving millions of dollars to people who’ve never had money in their lives and therefore have no money management skills don’t always invest it to help set themselves up for the future? Let’s stop assuming we all look at money the same way.

    And even those that do attempt to invest might get scammed anyway. And guess what, so did all of those that gave their money to Bernie Madoff and I don’t think  his clientele was NFL players.

  • The “solution” is to set up NFL contracts in such a way that the term of payment exceeds the term of the contract itself; in effect, creating an annuity where the player accepts a smaller amount of money up front but guaranteed continued payments past the end of his playing days. This should end the “found money” effect which leads so many young players to blow their money all at once and reduce the players’ expectations for what an NFL player’s life “should” be like. Searcy got in trouble in part because his concept of what he should be spending was overinflated by watching his peers; if everyone had a lower upfront salary, there’d be less of the conspicous consumption leading to vicious cycles of overspending.

    Of course this smacks of paternalism (albeit well-earned paternalism), and the NFLPA, and the players in general, will never accept this. And I guess there’d be nothing stopping players from selling their rights to the annuity to some third party in exchange for an upfront lump sum, which would leave even them worse off than before.

  • To say this isn’t about being black is to completely put your head in the sand.  Yes, growing up without money is without a doubt a part of it, but to say that a culture that emphasizes having flashy cars, jewelry, and homes isn’t also a part is nonsense.  Searcy even states in the article that he was “playing the part.”   You don’t have to be black to blow your money on cars, jewelry, and strippers, but odds are that the person who does will be black.  I’m not saying it’s a genetic trait inherent in the skin color.  I’m saying its a part of a culture that is idolized by many young black men in this country.