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Keith McCants wishes he’d never had NFL money

KeithMcCantsBucsGetty Getty Images

With thousands of men playing pro football over the years, there will be examples at each extreme of what happens when a lot of money lands in someone’s lap in his early 20s.  At that age, most aren’t thinking five years down the road — and they’re definitely not considering where they will be 20 years or into the future.

The case of former NFL linebacker Keith McCants, a top-five pick of the Buccaneers in the 1990 draft, provides the latest message to every player regarding the importance of realizing the fleeting nature of their careers, along with the consequences of giving in to the temptation to spend every last penny that flows into their bank accounts.

McCants, jailed since April 23 on charges new and old, is dealing both with legal troubles and lingering physical issues from his playing days.  On top of that, he’s broke.

I wish I had never had any money,” McCants recently told Joey Johnston of the Tampa Tribune during an jailhouse interview.  “I would’ve been great without money.  It’s a sad story, but it’s a true story.  Money destroyed everything around me and everything I care for, my family, my so-called friends.  I just want enough to live on.  I never want to be rich again.”

It’s not as if McCants didn’t have people urging him to save his money.  Danny Sheridan, the long-time line-setter for USA Today, had a heart-to-heart with McCants when he left Alabama one year early for the NFL.

“I told him he had to take his signing bonus, put it away and invest it, not pay any taxes on it, and just live very comfortably off his salary,” Sheridan told the Tribune. “That way, if he got hurt and the money dried up, he’d have something to fall back on.

“He wouldn’t hear of that.  I said, ‘Keith, if you don’t listen to me, you’re going to have all this new wealth, you’re going to be surrounded by an entourage of people who like you just because you have money and, unless you’re the next Lawrence Taylor, in a few years, you’re going to be broke.’  Well, guess what happened?”

What happened is that McCants spent all of it.  Along the way, he offered to buy a Jeep for Jimmy Wigfield of the Mobile Press-Register, who had covered McCants in college.  Wigfield explained that he couldn’t accept the gift from McCants.

“I’m not sure he understood,” Wigfield told the Tribune.  “He meant well.  I think for every one of me, there were 10 other people around him who took him up on such offers.  That might explain where all that money went.”

Unfortunately, the extreme cases attract the attention, causing many to assume that every NFL player chooses to live in the moment during his career, and then to spend every moment after his career ends trying to figure out how to make a living.  We hear about the success stories only occasionally, and we rarely hear about the vast majority of players who are financially and physically healthy for years after they stop playing.

Still, every player — especially highly-drafted rookies who assume that they’ve just received an endless supply of money — should realize that their careers could end sooner than they ever imagined, that reckless spending will wipe out that supposedly endless supply of money, and that they will have to find a way to take care of themselves and their families for several decades beyond the last time they wear a football helmet.

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42 Responses to “Keith McCants wishes he’d never had NFL money”
  1. brasho says: May 15, 2011 11:05 AM

    I think being an extremely stupid person with poor work ethic doomed McCants way more than the money. With or without money, this clown was destined to end up in jail eventually. If anything, having the money and the fame kept him from ending up in jail sooner than he did.

  2. brasho says: May 15, 2011 11:12 AM

    Considering McCants has been arrested eight times in the last 3 years, it’s only a matter of time before society gets to rid itself of him for longer than the few weeks at a time he normally spends in jail.

  3. jw731 says: May 15, 2011 11:13 AM

    Wasn’t he a student-athlete?…At a higher institution of learning? The university of Alabama, and now he’s whining like a 12 year old girl?…..It was all right there on a Crimson colored platter, your in jail because you were a sucess, instead of being a failure?..Really?…Some men make excuses and learn from them, some make them well into their 40’s…..and look for someone or something to blame….

  4. coachstram says: May 15, 2011 11:14 AM

    Blame the money?

    Theres the problem right there – no accountability.

  5. skoobyfl says: May 15, 2011 11:18 AM

    Boo hoo, I can’t control myself or don’t understand how to handle money. Is this self-loathing never going to stop from the old school players ?

  6. CKL says: May 15, 2011 11:19 AM

    Inanimate objects don’t make people do anything. If someone cries about how they do, it’s only so they can abdicate responsibility for their own weak minded actions. So basically…this guy STILL doesn’t “get it”.

  7. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: May 15, 2011 11:28 AM

    It’s sad, but reality.

    These kids have no idea how to handle such large amounts of money, and 90% of them are not looking 10-20 years down the road.

    But these are the same kids that want to be “partners” with the owners. Yea right, they would run a franchise into the ground as fast as McCants spent his money.

    Players refuse to accept ownership for their actions and have no sense of accountabilty. They lay blame everywhere else except at their own feet. McCants wishes he never had money, well then he would just be in trouble for stealing money.

    I don’t feel sorry for any of them though. Sheridan tried to help McCants but he refused to accept his advice. Dion tried to help Dez but he will not listen.
    Let them puke their money away and go broke as fast as they got rich as far as I’m concerned.

    How dare them evil slavemasters throw so much money at these naive innocent youngsters. They should be ashamed of themselves for setting these precious young men up for failure by not hiring a babysitter, personal banker, “life coach”, allowance handler, and daddy figure

  8. kingjoe1 says: May 15, 2011 11:33 AM

    Oh please! That attitude of blaming the money instead of himself shows me he would have been no better off without the money. Maturity is his issue not money.

  9. dryheaveone says: May 15, 2011 11:40 AM

    “Still, every player — especially highly-drafted rookies who assume that they’ve just received an endless supply of money — should realize that their careers could end sooner than they ever imagined.”

    ————————————————-

    I believe that’s what they call, “COMMON SENSE”…..It continues to amaze me how alot of athletes don’t get it. Alot of them could live very comfortable for the REST OF THEIR LIVES after signing their FIRST CONTRACT. I know they are young when the first come into this money but still, it’s hard to feel sorry for them when you see how they squander their money.

  10. mathsimillion says: May 15, 2011 11:42 AM

    Maybe instead of wishing he never had NFL money he should have just wished for a Brain to use his money properly instead.

  11. jo3jo says: May 15, 2011 11:42 AM

    I think the Sheridan quote is somehow misquoted — I find it hard to believe that he gave this guy the advice of not paying taxes on the signing bonus. A proofreading error probably.

    These guys never had to work for money, so they don’t really value it the way that poor working stiffs do. So the burn rate is crazy. It’s not just in football — a few decades back we saw it with MC Hammer, who managed to blow through something like $50 million and end up broke. We are seeing it happening with Dez Bryant, who is apparently a shopping mall’s best customer, and owes a ton of money to jewelry stores after only a year in the league. All those guys who have big entourages, and feel the need to pick up the tag for all of them can easily go through money faster than they can earn it. A few escolades, a few taggers-on, a few private jet rides, and suddenly your year’s earnings are gone. Meanwhile the poor schlub earning $50k per year seems to make do, servicing a mortgage and squirreling some $ away for retirement.

    Somebody who worked hard for his whole life before winning the lottery almost never quits his job and goes on a spending spree. Usually it’s a nice vacation and the rest goes into the bank. Folks who never learned the value of money simply won’t value money. It’s actually a wonder more of these fools don’t end up broke like McCants. But there will be someone every year in the NFL who faces this problem — some fool with too many mouths to feed and who doesn’t appreciate that the typical career of a football player is only a few years.

  12. suckittrebek76 says: May 15, 2011 11:46 AM

    It’s to bad he doesn’t have a ring to sell.

  13. Steve says: May 15, 2011 11:50 AM

    Money doesn’t change you, Mr. McCants. It just amplifies what you already are.

  14. dk56 says: May 15, 2011 11:52 AM

    “I wish I had never had any money,” McCants recently told Joey Johnston of the Tampa Tribune during an jailhouse interview.

    Well congratulations – you have your wish: 3 hots and a cot; and the $0.15 you will make for each og the license plates you make — for ever however long that your are sentenced!

  15. backindasaddle says: May 15, 2011 11:57 AM

    They were never taught proper values growing up. Unfortunately, it’s a perpetually recurring story and has everything thing to do with how children are raised to be adults. You can trace this right back to the parents and the culture in which they were raised.

  16. burghman says: May 15, 2011 11:59 AM

    “I never want to be rich again….”

    Done.

  17. bsizemore68 says: May 15, 2011 11:59 AM

    It won’t happen, I would like to see the union and league do what the rich people do ( some of them ), any money over one million dollars go into a trust fund manage by a company pick by both league and union, the player can’t touch the money without approved reason until they turn 30, they will need to live on there pay check of no more than a million a year, of course we will hear about the slave issues and crying about all the rest, it will be in the best long tern interest for most, after I got out of the Navy in 63 I went to work and the company and union had a deal to take 3% of our pay and invest it and we couldn’t touch it until we quit or retired, needless to say I complain, however after I retired I had more money in my account than I will ever spend, just something to think about. Bill..p.s. Also my will was set up to keep the money out of the kids hands until they turn 30

  18. vmannj says: May 15, 2011 12:02 PM

    Just an idea…but here goes:

    The NFL should work with college football programs and help identify which players have a legit chance of making it to the league. Those players should then be REQUIRED to take (and PASS) a REAL college course about money managment, public speaking, mooching friends, and twitter etiquette.

    Yes, this post is laced with sarcasm. But seriously, something needs to be done on a wide-ranging, formal basis. The one-time rookie symposium doesn’t seem to be working for some of these guys.

  19. duanethomas says: May 15, 2011 12:05 PM

    What he wishes is like lottery winners, actors, musicians and other athletes who came into great income and lost it, is to have managed it better. If he would have listen to sage advice and not blew it he would feel different. The money he blew through is not the cause of him being in his current situation. Money didn’t make he 3 arrested 8 times in 3 years. Character or lack thereof caused his issues, with family, friends and the law. Maybe he can speak to other players on what no to do. In the mean time, soap on a rope would be my advice.

  20. duanethomas says: May 15, 2011 12:07 PM

    What he wishes is like lottery winners, actors, musicians and other athletes who came into great income and lost it, is to have managed it better. If he would have listen to sage advice and not blew it he would feel different. The money he blew through is not the cause of him being in his current situation. Money didn’t make him get 3 arrested 8 times in 3 years. Character or lack thereof caused his issues, with family, friends and the law. Maybe he can speak to other players on what not to do. In the mean time, soap on a rope would be my advice.

  21. baronvonmonocle says: May 15, 2011 12:20 PM

    He wishes that he never got the money? Well, at least that’s something he has in common with the Buccaneers.

  22. roarofthemasses says: May 15, 2011 12:34 PM

    I bet there’s a lot of people who wish you never had that money

  23. stonedwhitetrash says: May 15, 2011 1:02 PM

    Many of the NFL’s players even after using up college eligibility are still functionally illiterate.

  24. deadeye says: May 15, 2011 1:24 PM

    A fool and his money are soon parted.

  25. ezmoover says: May 15, 2011 1:29 PM

    What a big surprise. Nope, not a surprise that another former NFL player spent all his money.

    But rather what a massively huge surprise that a bunch of PFT posters want to wag their boney little fingers at these players and laugh and lecture them about how stupid these players are.

    Cause all you boney finger wagging hypocrites would never fall into that trap when you’re 21 years old and suddenly given a huge amount of money!

    Go ahead and thumb down this post. Because you all know what I say is still true. It’s so much fun for you “have nots” and “never will bes” to laugh at others and ridicule them for making bad decisions at a young age. It makes you all feel real good about yourselves, doesn’t it?

    Boney finger wagging hypocrites! HA!

  26. rcali says: May 15, 2011 1:36 PM

    Didn’t he know that the average career is only “3.5” years as we are constantly reminded when players feel they should be payed a life time of work for “3.5” years?

  27. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: May 15, 2011 1:43 PM

    @ ezmoover

    Yes it does feel good to wag my finger!!
    The guy was offered advice and he REFUSED it.
    He deserves what happened as far as I am concerned.
    And you are right, I would have never fallen into that trap at 21.
    Now I am wagging my finger at your boney lil body, and poking my finger into your boney lil chest and saying “cry some more lil girlie, cry and whine some more”

  28. ezmoover says: May 15, 2011 3:03 PM

    @iamtalkingsolistenandlearn

    Another shocking surprise.

    A boney little internet tough guy here on PFT.

    LMAO at you!

  29. cometkazie says: May 15, 2011 3:06 PM

    Look at Warrick Dunn to see how it’s done right.

  30. istateyourname says: May 15, 2011 3:14 PM

    ” I never want to be rich again.”–Apparently, you never were.

    I think it’s kind of harsh to judge these guys in hindsight. withouth having been gifted with a large sum of money at a young age, you just don’t really know how you would have handled it. This is not a unique story.

    “…rookies who assume that they’ve just received an endless supply of money…”

    Great idea, the next CBA could mandate that the rookie signing bonuses be converted to paid up lifetime annuities, then it would be an endless supply of money. Then the owners know thair payout wouldn’t be pi$$ed away immediately. But I guess they could always screw that up by selling it for a lump sum.

    “…never had to work for money…” Pretty sure it takes some work to be a pro football player.

  31. brooksmem says: May 15, 2011 3:18 PM

    Live an learn. Some guys are good with their money and others are not.

    Remember Harold “Baby Jordan” Miner? His NBA career only lasted a few years, but he managed to make $20 million by the time he was 25 years old. Guess what he did with all that money. He kept it!

    Read whole article at:

    http://www.lostlettermen.com/feature-uscs-harold-mineer-speaks-after-years-of-silence/

    http://www.brooksmemorabilia.com

  32. hedleykow says: May 15, 2011 4:00 PM

    The hostility in many of the comments above is common of someone who finds in the suffering of another human being, relief from their own miserable existence, however fleeting their deranged illusions might be.

    Oddly, you are likely to hear from many of those same people, the foolish claim about their religious convictions based on the principles of Christianity.

    You wouldn’t think they would have a lot of spare time to gloat over the misfortunes of another, considering the tall order it must be to somehow square up the inconsistencies and contradictions of their own pathetic lives.

  33. professorhey says: May 15, 2011 4:24 PM

    Middle aged people who win the lottery often do the same thing. I’ve done plenty of stupid things in my 20’s (and 30’s), so I won’t judge these guys by their mistakes.

    But, it really should be the league and the agents driving this home, not some journalist.

    Still, a person with the right values and priorities will be happy with or without money–one gets’ the sense McCants is not going to have that going for him any time soon.

    You can laugh at Ricky Williams all you want, but from interviews with the guy he seems like one of the few to grow enough spiritually as a player to be a happy guy no matter how his NFL career works out.

  34. facebook.com/joesimmonscomic AKA Slow Joe (Bucs fan) says: May 15, 2011 4:35 PM

    Give me that much money in my early 20s I may have blown it all too.

    Nah. I wasn’t that dumb.

  35. perry1977 says: May 15, 2011 4:38 PM

    Here’s that “trickle up” economic paradigm in action, folks.

  36. icewalker946 says: May 15, 2011 4:46 PM

    After being drafted fourth overall by the Buccaneers in 1990, McCants signed a 5 year, $7.4 million dollar deal with the team, including a then-record $2.5 million dollar cash signing bonus.

    All of it, gone.

  37. dynasty233118488 says: May 15, 2011 5:10 PM

    Cam Newton would be wise to read this article…If he can read, that is.

  38. bigtrav425 says: May 15, 2011 6:10 PM

    I get what everyone is saying about this article and him ……but the bottom line is Money does change some people.Maybe not me or you but thats just how life goes.Some people dont have the will power to tell someone (i.e friend or entourage member) no you cant have any money or a new car.Coming into millions,just like love blinds some people…Now he just needs to man up do his time and come out a better,and smarter person then before

  39. commandercornpone says: May 15, 2011 6:30 PM

    Many of the NFL’s players shouldnt have been in college at all due to being functionally illiterate.

  40. brasho says: May 15, 2011 7:36 PM

    ezmoover says:
    May 15, 2011 1:29 PM
    What a big surprise. Nope, not a surprise that another former NFL player spent all his money.

    But rather what a massively huge surprise that a bunch of PFT posters want to wag their boney little fingers at these players and laugh and lecture them about how stupid these players are.

    Cause all you boney finger wagging hypocrites would never fall into that trap when you’re 21 years old and suddenly given a huge amount of money!

    Go ahead and thumb down this post. Because you all know what I say is still true. It’s so much fun for you “have nots” and “never will bes” to laugh at others and ridicule them for making bad decisions at a young age. It makes you all feel real good about yourselves, doesn’t it?

    Boney finger wagging hypocrites! HA!

    ++++++++++++++++++++

    What are you talking about? I’m wagging extremely muscular fingers.

  41. mikeminnc says: May 16, 2011 8:20 AM

    If the player’s union really cared about the welfare of the players, they would worry less about whether or not the average player made $2.4 million a year instead of $1.8 million per year, and more about having mandatory financial counseling and investment plans for these knuckleheads.

  42. raw101 says: May 16, 2011 2:55 PM

    Some people dont knoq how to handle money.

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