Plenty of NFL players burn through plenty of money, plenty of times in a given year. Panthers receiver Steve Smith isn’t surprised by this dynamic, and he has a few ideas as to why it happens.
“Mismanagement of money doesn’t change because you have a lot of money, there are a lot of guys out there that make a lot of money and that make a little money and still live paycheck to paycheck,” Smith told WFNZ in Charlotte on Wednesday. “You know, ignorance of how the financial game works or managing money doesn’t exclude you because you have a lot of it, it just enables you to make bigger and dumber mistakes because you have a lot of money.”
Smith also explained that players “sometimes mismanage and mistrust people that they shouldn’t have [trusted],” and that efforts to educate players only go so far, given the nature of how they are paid. “Just because you are in the NFL doesn’t mean there is a different standard, a lot of people work paycheck to paycheck,” Smith said. “I’ll tell you why so many players are broke, 17 weeks out of the year you get paid, and the rest, you have to manage.”
When players can’t manage, trouble can happen. “Some people get dangerous, get desperate, and that’s how you get these guys that do drug runs and start driving down highways with kilos of marijuana just so they can get that fast cash.”
These are great points, and the NFL and NFLPA would be wise to come up with strategies for working against these realities, assuming that NFL and NFLPA are capable of working together in any capacity at the present time. Maybe it’s as simple as converting base salaries to monthly or bi-weekly payments that are made throughout the course of the entire year.
Regardless, there has to be a better way to keep players from going broke, and it makes sense to rely on players who have lived the experience of getting a lot of money in a four-month period and little or no money for the other eight months when coming up with ways to help guys better handle their financial situations.