Friday, June 20, 2014

Wisdom from an American footballer?

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis hasn't knocked himself silly yet. In fact he's got some smart observations on NFL life, race, poverty and maturation in the NFL.

The truth is, for many players, the size of the contract doesn’t matter because they’re going to blow the money anyway. Financial literacy is the biggest problem I see in NFL locker rooms. Too many players spend their money on cars they don’t drive and homes they barely live in. I’ve had veterans on their second contract ask me for money. More often, it’s retired players who need the help, once the checks have stopped coming. It took me fours years to figure it out, to see not only guys crash and burn, but to watch other players with business sense and learn from them.

It should come as no surprise that quarterbacks are the best with their money. They’re the kids whose fathers owned small businesses or had comfortable enough careers to coach them up as kids. We didn’t have that. My parents were unstable or absent for my brothers Vontae and Michael, so we were raised by a grandmother in Washington. Many of the black players I know come from similar backgrounds, from single or no-parent homes. We were trying to figure out how to scrape together $5 while the quarterbacks were learning to manage a $100. Our young athletes need help, and that’s where the NFL and the NFLPA need to come in.

It’s not enough to gather rookies in June and tell them how not to go broke, or to offer an offseason financial seminar at a college. Those are great steps taken by the NFL in recent years with their rookie symposium and the player engagement program. But if they really want to save young players from themselves, they have to make it mandatory. Send a college professor to every NFL team and require all players to attend business seminars during training camp. Maybe guys didn’t pay attention during college, but the lessons take on a new meaning when you’re finally getting paid.

Monday Morning Quarterback

Davis took part with local youth in painting and signing the neighborhood mural pictured here.

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