The practice of veteran NFL players forcing rookies to pay for dinners that cost tens of thousands of dollars has once again been in the news lately, with Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson expressing shock when told that he’ll have to spend $75,000 on a dinner for veteran teammates. One former NFL player is calling for an end to the practice.
Former NFL wide receiver Torrey Smith wrote on Twitter that rookie dinners are a terrible tradition, and he singled out fellow receiver Anquan Boldin, who was in his ninth NFL season when the Ravens drafted Smith in 2011, for protecting him from the practice.
“Rookie dinners are BS! I’m glad I had an OG that realized teaching me to blow money is STUPID! It does not prove you belong on a team. Shout out to Anquan Boldin!” Smith wrote.
Smith noted that few NFL rookies are equipped to suddenly become millionaires, and a supportive veteran teammate would help those rookies learn about smart financial management, not stupid practices like dinners that cost more than a nice new car.
“Dudes come into the league with no financial literacy and real problems but folks think 50k dinners are cool! NAH!” Smith wrote.
Smith is right. People defend rookie dinners by pointing out that millionaire athletes can afford them, but that’s not the point. Yes, they can afford that particular dinner. What they can’t afford is to learn as a 21-year-old that being young and rich means routinely paying excessive bills for other people. That’s how so many rich 21-year-olds become broke 41-year-olds. The stories of NFL players making millions of dollars and having nothing left by the time they’re middle-aged are legion.
Rookie dinners are a practice that should end, and it’s the veteran players who should do the right thing and end them.