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.”

57 responses to “Calvin Johnson’s financial plan: Take care of family, then say no

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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.”

  6. 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.)

  7. 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.

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

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

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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

  14. “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.

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

  16. 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.

  17. CALVIN

    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.

  18. 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!

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

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

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

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

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

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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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