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Calvin Johnson’s financial plan: Take care of family, then say no


We routinely write about NFL players who go bankrupt after making tens of millions of dollars in their NFL careers, men who made a fortune in their 20s and 30s and blew it all quickly. Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who just signed the biggest contract in the history of the league, has a simple plan for avoiding that trap.

Johnson said on SportsCenter today that his plan consists of two elements: His family gets taken care of. All the hangers-on, self-promoting financial advisers and others who ask for his money get told no.

“Sometimes the hardest thing is saying no, but definitely have to take care of my family,” Johnson said.

As soon as the headlines saying Johnson got a seven-year, $132 million contract with $60 million guaranteed started coming, the calls started pouring in from people who wanted a piece of it. Johnson responded by changing his number.

“My phone blows up all the time. I had to change my number,” Johnson said.

Johnson says he’s not allowing the money to change the fact that his primary focus is on winning football games.

“I don’t think things have changed for me,” Johnson said. “Yes, I got a big contract, but my focus is still the same.”

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57 Responses to “Calvin Johnson’s financial plan: Take care of family, then say no”
  1. trollhammer20 says: Apr 17, 2012 1:10 PM

    Best to keep the sycophants away for sure, but sometimes, the biggest ones are in your family to begin with.

  2. h3min1230 says: Apr 17, 2012 1:10 PM

    I remember Deion Sanders telling him to say no after he was drafted…kids got a good head on his shoulders.

  3. joetoronto says: Apr 17, 2012 1:11 PM

    This guy has the right idea, screw the posse.

  4. tommyf15 says: Apr 17, 2012 1:11 PM

    Good for him.

    For over 20 years the NFLPA has provided classes to all rookies telling them not to give their money away to anyone. Some listen, some don’t.

  5. crippled4life says: Apr 17, 2012 1:12 PM

    Great player smart man.

  6. t2live says: Apr 17, 2012 1:12 PM

    Good for him. He has a good, smart head on his shoulders. Now he just has to keep it up, its easy to say harder to do.

  7. rexryanschoolofpodiatry says: Apr 17, 2012 1:12 PM

    Are people really that pathetic that they call these athletes and ask them to give them money?

  8. mding729 says: Apr 17, 2012 1:13 PM

    I wonder if one of those calls came from Sapp.

  9. buckhuckster says: Apr 17, 2012 1:13 PM

    Maybe Megatron should be the new instructor for those mandatory rookie classes on how to take care of your finances when you hit the big leagues….

    “Just say no, kids.”

  10. turk2875 says: Apr 17, 2012 1:14 PM

    Just Say No.

  11. falconsfan says: Apr 17, 2012 1:14 PM

    You can tell this kid went to Georgia Tech and not University of Georgia.

  12. godofwine330 says: Apr 17, 2012 1:15 PM

    Good for him. Mom gets a 2-3 bdrm condo and not a house (why does she need a house? Her kids are grown, she can’t cut a ton of grass and it’s just her), sisters and brothers get help toward a career, dad (if he was ever involved) gets help. Grandma set for life. Everybody else up to 15 people get $2000-5000 to pay bills and debt.

    After that I am done. Mom would get a car and an allowance (some moms have spending problems and need to know that if you dig a hole big enough to fit an ocean that I am only going to take care of $??? a year. Any more debt than that she rakes up she is going to need to get a job.)

  13. storebrandcookies says: Apr 17, 2012 1:15 PM

    So refreshing to hear. Looks like his grandchildren’s grandchildren will have nothing to worry about.

  14. seattlerogueburner says: Apr 17, 2012 1:16 PM

    so often do professional athletes blow their money on stupid investments. Good for him for taking the high road and thinking of his family first. Classy gentleman.

  15. ishallcomment says: Apr 17, 2012 1:16 PM

    Calvin > Andre

    from a packers fan

  16. tombradyallday says: Apr 17, 2012 1:16 PM

    its players like this who are preciated for taking their craft seriously. he deserved that contract. and hes a game changer

  17. fourthand20 says: Apr 17, 2012 1:18 PM

    All he has to do is to respond to that one email from that prince in Nigeria that would bring him $21,000,000.

  18. mvp43 says: Apr 17, 2012 1:18 PM

    Great man, great player…………….but honestly I hope he gets the Madden cover his year.

  19. anthonioustheprettygood says: Apr 17, 2012 1:22 PM

    The key is to where to draw the line on “family.” You start getting into aunts and uncles and cousins and 2nd cousins and step brothers and in-laws and in laws’ cousins and so on and so on. It’s tough to say no when you are a nice guy, but seeing the likes of Sapp and other former millionaires should help.

  20. zaggs says: Apr 17, 2012 1:24 PM

    Smart if he keeps to it. Can’t believe you hear about players making millions and then whn asked why they went broke “Well this investment failed, then this investment didn’t pan out”….why are you making those investments? If you want some growth get a class B stock or something greedy.

  21. theralph2012 says: Apr 17, 2012 1:28 PM

    “Yo Tron, it’s me Warren, can I get a couple bucks brother?” If that call hasn’t been made already its only a matter of time…

  22. cleverbob says: Apr 17, 2012 1:28 PM

    Damn, now I need to get his new number…

  23. unclehilroy says: Apr 17, 2012 1:31 PM

    So that’s why he hasn’t returned my calls…

  24. akd1287 says: Apr 17, 2012 1:32 PM

    Don’t even keep a phone. Hire a secretary and screen your calls, man.

  25. nesuperfan says: Apr 17, 2012 1:33 PM

    And remember, dropping $10K on champagne is “stoopid”.

  26. dannyreneau says: Apr 17, 2012 1:34 PM

    good for him. its nice to see a player with his head on straight

  27. rajbais says: Apr 17, 2012 1:38 PM

    Money sucking family members and friends are NEVER looked by the public as big reasons why athletes go broke!!!

  28. savannahrose44 says: Apr 17, 2012 1:41 PM

    “Johnson said on SportsCenter today that his plan consists of two elements: His family gets taken care of. All the hangers-on, self-promoting financial advisers and others who ask for his money get told no.”

    It’s good to say no to the money grubbers, but don’t say no to financial planning. Be smart with that money and you have a legacy to leave to your grandchildren’s grandchildren. 60 million guaranteed is a lot of money, but if it’s not handled properly that barrel does have a bottom to it. He would not be the first mega millionaire to make the mistake of not planning for the long haul.

  29. joetoronto says: Apr 17, 2012 1:45 PM

    It doesn’t help that the general mentality out there is “If you have it, I’m entitled to it.”

  30. savannahrose44 says: Apr 17, 2012 1:46 PM

    To be clear I’m not talking gimmick investments, I’m talking about handling that money Payton Manning style and not oh say Mark Brunell.

  31. paleface1976ll says: Apr 17, 2012 1:48 PM

    Draft stephen hill to complement Calvin Johnson, their will be nl double team, and a very potent offense.

  32. canadianvikingfaniii says: Apr 17, 2012 1:49 PM

    It is the same thing with Lottery winners. All of the sudden family you never have seen and spoken to, or ones from a long time ago come out like zombies saying how much they miss you.

    Good for Calvin being smart with his money.

  33. sdffa11 says: Apr 17, 2012 1:52 PM


    when you make that much money, you cant even trust your family. most family members wont try to take advantage of you but some will.

    just remember, there can be leeches and free loaders within your immediate family as well.

  34. trefkennedy says: Apr 17, 2012 1:59 PM

    Humble wr’s Megatron,Andre the giant,Larry Fitz,Miles Austin,Dwayne Bowe,Marques Colston those wr’s are truly genuine good ppl

  35. cnyphinfan says: Apr 17, 2012 2:06 PM

    did i mention that I was calvin’s white brother from another mother?

  36. cornernum23 says: Apr 17, 2012 2:07 PM

    I’ve been a Lions fan all my life (I’m only 23, but still). And having Megatron on my team is just the best! How can you not love this guy! A real football player, not some whimp, and just an all around good guy!

  37. nflofficeadmin says: Apr 17, 2012 2:08 PM

    Calvin, hit me up 718-flat-broke.

  38. davidjcu says: Apr 17, 2012 2:21 PM

    Starting a new Campaign to keep Megatron OFF the madden cover

  39. kungfubillysims says: Apr 17, 2012 2:24 PM

    I’m shocked that you didn’t somehow try to put a negative spin on this information. I’m proud of you.

  40. fdugrad says: Apr 17, 2012 2:25 PM

    Warren and Antonio hope part of the saying “NO” applies to the hundreds of women who will be “calling”!!

  41. wetpaperbag3 says: Apr 17, 2012 2:25 PM

    mding729 says: Apr 17, 2012 1:13 PM

    I wonder if one of those calls came from Sapp.


  42. johnnyjagfan says: Apr 17, 2012 2:38 PM

    If you like laughing at these idiots that get millions and blow it all before they reach 28, go read the opinion in Travis Henry’s child support case. It was dang near a class action there were so many kids and there wasn’t much cash, but there was plenty of gold #20 mediallions that were custom made with little or no resale value. Judge rips him a new one. Idiot!

  43. kappy32 says: Apr 17, 2012 3:00 PM

    Johnson is a real class act. He is exactly what a role model WR should be.

  44. beauregard says: Apr 17, 2012 3:02 PM

    There are a lot of people who “Take care of their family” working the 8 to 5 for less than $60 grand a year. It makes me chuckle to see these millionaires struggling to get by with ten to fifty times that amount.
    That being said, Calvin is a good kid with smarts and probably won’t fall into the trap. Taking care of family is a trap though. You give anyone a $5k a month salary/allowance for doing nothing and it’ll turn them into a turd. Pay for their schooling or to learn a trade and they’ll become a productive human.

  45. captainwisdom8888 says: Apr 17, 2012 3:20 PM

    I would have went the Sam Hurd route with all that dough…

  46. trollaikman8 says: Apr 17, 2012 3:29 PM

    Kinda sucks though that he’s cousins with Warren Sapp.

  47. detroitcityryda says: Apr 17, 2012 3:40 PM

    Ohhhh that’s why I can’t reach him as of late cj why you switch the number on yo boy ? I need some stacks Cuz

  48. bcgreg says: Apr 17, 2012 3:49 PM

    I wonder if he’ll refuse a call from Optimus Prime.

  49. kmart0319 says: Apr 17, 2012 3:52 PM

    Welcome to the 1%. Now give your fair share to those that deserve it.

  50. woodyg says: Apr 17, 2012 4:02 PM

    Eventually the Lions will wish they had let him go in free agency. Nearly half the Lion’s cap will only employ a half dozen or so players while the remainder of the roster will have to feed on the crumbs left behind. This will ultimately lead to too many mediocre starters & very little depth.

    The Lions basically have 2012 to make some noise. After this season, they’ll be returning to their normal ways, or just another losing team.

  51. gmen4life33 says: Apr 17, 2012 4:03 PM

    Take care of your boysssss Calvin. So when you are broke they can want nothing to do with you anymore lol

  52. doe22us says: Apr 17, 2012 4:04 PM

    Wait so his rookie contract he hadnt taken care of his family then? The second should be just gravy.

  53. thesportgenius says: Apr 17, 2012 4:45 PM

    Love Herm Edwards advice…just one of everything, one girlfriend, one car, one house, and nothing good happens after midnight.

  54. numberoneinthehoodg says: Apr 17, 2012 4:54 PM

    Been a big fan of this site. Sure I’ll peruse it, but since you (mike florio) made a choice between triple G and MDS, I gotta say, I’m going to start surfing NFL network or whatever it is to find tre g. MDS is going to ruin you.

    Maybe it’s me, but I’m done with the editing on the comments on his posts. He doesn’t get it.

  55. granadafan says: Apr 17, 2012 5:03 PM

    As another poster said, Megatron should speak at the rookie symposiums and even some veteran ones on how to handle your money. A good friend of mine recently won 2 million in the lottery and he said that it was scary how many people had their hands out, mostly family members. They were quite offended and angry when he said no or didn’t give them enough. Money can cure a lot, but really is the root of all evil and greed.

  56. CKL says: Apr 17, 2012 6:09 PM

    Also, don’t have twentyeleven kids with groupies/women looking to cash in. Looks like he hasn’t fallen into that trap either. Good for him! I don’t get the mentality of “If you earn it, I’m entitled to it”, be it family members or whomever.

  57. ahs2 says: Apr 17, 2012 10:04 PM

    The difference is that when he says it, I believe it. This guy has been nothing but humble and classy ever since he was drafted. The polar opposite of the typical divas with posses in tow…

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