Buccaneers both young and old would be well-served by taking care of their finances early.
When talented rookies join the NFL, like O.J. Howard of the Buccaneers, a lot is expected early in their careers. Just in year one, Howard is expected to step in and help take pressure off of Mike Evans and company on the way to bringing the Bucs to the playoffs. He is expected, again as a rookie, to team up with Cameron Brate to form a duo that the NFL will have difficulty stopping. Basically, Howard is supposed to continue his success from college in the pros, almost immediately. It’s a lot to ask of a rookie.
But they are rewarded handsomely for it, to the envy of the rest of us. They make more money in a year than most of us will ever see. Howard’s rookie contract guarantees slightly over $11 million (per Spotrac). That’s more than I will ever see in MULTIPLE lifetimes. It’s certainly more money than Howard has seen to date, and with that comes great responsibility.
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How are you going to handle the new-found riches? Who are you going to trust? These are some of the most important questions that players will answer early in their careers. Do it right and the player is set for life. Do it wrong and the door is open for major problems, financially and even mentally.
Who remembers Clinton Portis? Most of you probably watched his career, which spanned nine years (two with Denver, seven with Washington) and led him to 9,923 yards rushing. His 87.8 rushing yards per game rank Portis seventh all-time. I’ll bet even some of you had him on your fantasy teams.
Needless to say, his borderline Hall of Fame career brought him a lot of money, more than he knew what to do with. So, he trusted financial advisers that didn’t have his best interests at heart. It all went away. Portis declared bankruptcy. And, as Brian Burnsed wrote in a great post for SI, Portis came close to taking matters into his own hands:
"The hucksters he deemed most responsible ignored his calls. None were bound for jail. Their coffers were dry; a lawsuit seemed pointless. Once his helplessness gave way to rage, Portis lusted for a confrontation. He would meet this betrayer not with pleas or demands, or even blows delivered by thick fists attached to thick forearms. Bullets, he thought, were his sole means of balancing the scale."
You read that correctly. There are no typos. Clinton Portis intended on killing the men who squandered all of his money. He didn’t care about permanently losing his reputation or his freedom. Nobody else seemed to be doing anything, so he felt he had only one thing to do.
Imagine that for a minute. We all have an internal compass that tells us right from wrong. Think about getting to a place where that compass becomes invisible, and all you care about is revenge. Think how dark that place must be. That’s where Clinton Portis was, ladies and gentlemen. He was taken to that dark place. Thankfully he didn’t get the chance to pull the trigger and listened to his friend. But he was there, all because he listened to and trusted the wrong people.
It’s very sad.
Bucs players can learn from it, however. When the league talks about this at the rookie symposium, listen to what is being taught. Make sure you are properly vetting whomever you are trusting to handle your money. Make sure they have your best interests at heart. There are too many people out there that just want their “piece”. Cover yourselves, young Bucs.
Do your part with your own money as well. How many cars do you really need? Last I checked, you only have one body to drive around. As tempting as it is to become frivolous, plan for the future. It will make a difference when the days between the white lines come to an end.
Don’t put yourselves into the position where you could end up like Clinton Portis. There are enough good influences out there to help you. Find them.