Do Many NFL Players Go Bankrupt?

The average yearly salary for National Football League (NFL) players is more than $1 million US Dollars (USD), but NFL players have one of the highest bankruptcy rates of any profession. About 78% of NFL players go bankrupt within two years after retirement. One factor is thought to be a high divorce rate, which is estimated to range from 60% to 80% of professional athletes and typically occurs after retirement, when there is no longer the same income stream. Another factor is thought to be players investing their funds in fraudulent or risky ventures. Professional football players also have an average career span of just 3.5 years and can be cut from teams after injuries — often losing any salary they were due to earn in future seasons — whereas athletes in some other sports, such as Major League Baseball, typically have fully guaranteed contracts.

More about bankruptcy:

  • About 60% of National Basketball Association (NBA) players go bankrupt within five years of ending their careers.

  • The average annual US household bankruptcy rate is a little more than 1%.

  • From 1999 through 2002, 78 NFL players lost a total of about $42 million USD as a result of having their money handled by financial advisors who were either unqualified or had fraudulent backgrounds.

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