It doesn’t matter how much money you make, anyone has the chance to lose it all. One of the best examples of this are the rise and fall of some of the most famous athletes in the United States. These legendary football players gave it their all on the field. But after retiring, they lost it all. Here are some legendary football players that went broke after retiring.
Bernie Kosar was one of the brightest stars in the history of the Cleveland Browns. Before retiring in 1996, he had made about $19 million. However, in 2009 Kosar had to declare bankruptcy. An expensive divorce, poor investment decisions, and some theft from financial advisors, Kosar was left with only $44 in his bank account. He had a monthly income of $1,100 and $9.2 million worth of real estate and assets, but his debt was $18.9 million.
A longtime backup quarterback with the Steelers, Charlie Batch did manage to win several Super Bowl Rings while a part of the league. However, he made a few bad real estate deals that left him with a mountain of debt. He couldn’t pay off the mortgages on several of the properties he had bought and their loans defaulted, so he lost many of the properties outright. It wasn’t long after that he had to declare bankruptcy.
William Perry, better known as “The Refrigerator” was a massive player in the Chicago Bears. He played as a defensive tackle and fullback in the 80s, even as a part of the Super-Bowl winning 1985 team. It would’ve been expected that, alongside his league salary, his advertising and endousmenet deals would’ve lasted him a while. But in 2011 he had to auction off his Super Bowl ring. He now lives in a South Carolina assisted-living home, living off of $14,000 a year from social security.
Mark Ingram Sr.
Mark Ingram Sr. was a first-round draft pick for the New York Giants in 1987. He’s best known for the game-winning touchdown he made at the 1991 Super Bowl against the Buffalo Bills. Unfortunately, after retiring in 1996 Ingram decided to keep himself afloat using less than legal activities. He defrauded the IRS and participated in a money-laundering scheme. After he got caught, Ingram spent seven years in prison, five years of probation, and a $252,000 fine.
Deuce McAllister with the Saints as a running back for eight years before retiring in 2008. Unfortunately for him, after just two years had blew his entire $70 million savings. His purchase of a Nissan dealership failed and was sued by the company itself for exceeding credit terms and defaulting on payments. He found himself $7 million in debut and had his $1.8 million home seized by the bank.
After retiring in 1993, Lawrence Taylor, a New York Giants legend, went really far, purchasing alcohol, drugs, and prostitutes. According to Taylor, himself, at one point he was spending thousands on drugs every day. Additionally, he was found guilty of tax evasion and his company All-Pro Products became worthless. He had a minor uptick for his finances in 2009, but had to file for bankruptcy shortly after.
Former running back Travis Henry is the father of 11 children from ten different women. The child support alone cost him $200,000 a year. And without his NFL income, he started to miss payments. So, of course, he turned to drug trafficking and began financing a cocaine-dealing enterprise. He was caught and spent three years in prison.
Ray Rice’s entire world was turned upside-down when the video of him punching his former fiancée, Janay Palmer, was released. The former Raven lost his NFL salary, his endorsements with Nike, Vertimax, and EA Sports, and he faced a long list of legal fees.
Between 1994 and 2011, Mark Brunell earned around $50 million as a quarterback for the Packers, Jets, Saints, and what are now known as the Commanders. After retiring, Brunell bought 11 Whataburger franchises and made quite a few poor real estate decisions. He made a profit of exactly $0 from that business venture. $25 million in the hole, and with only $5 million in assets, Brunell declared bankruptcy in 2010. Now he coaches high school football in Jacksonville, Florida.
Michael Vick was publicly condemned for financing a dog-fighting ring in 2007. He lost his NFL salary, sponsorships, and endorsements and had to deal with a mountain of legal fees. It didn’t help that he had purchased expensive jewelry, cars, and homes, and was financially supporting friends and family. He declared bankruptcy in 2008. Though, in 2015, he had a second chance with the Eagles and clawed his way out of bankruptcy. Now he’s launched a clothing line and is managing football camps for children.
When Terrel Ownes’ career ended in 2010, he supposedly had earned over $80 million. But then, some bad home and condo purchases during the 2008 recession, several women seeking child support, and the amount of money from him by those around Owens caused him to severely deplete his resources. Nowadays he makes sporadic media event appearances and has a job in the Indoor Football League, which somewhat shows how dire his finances look.
Tiki Barber was the starting running back for the Giants during his 10 years of football. He managed to accrue $25 million during that time. But in 2010, he lost it all. His wife of 11 years was about to give birth to twins, and Barber decided to leave her for a 23-year-old intern at NBC. His infidelity caused him to be released from the station, and the cost of divorce and child support ate away at his cash reserves.
JaMarcus Russel was the first NFL draft pick in 2007, signing for a $61 million contract from the get-go. And the investment turned out to be a major bust. He was released from the Raiders in 2010, which only led to a downward spiral from that point on. He was already unable to pay for his Oakland mansion, but then he was caught with un-prescribed codeine. He even offered to play for free, but none of the teams wanted him to play.
Vince Young made $35 million playing in the NFL over six years. But eight years after his leave, he filed for bankruptcy. His financial advisor had even told him that he was spending too quickly and frivolously. He spent $300,000 on just one of his birthdays and bought the entirety of Southwest Airlines’ flights to one destination. Then he spoiled his friends with expensive dinners and drinks, spending $6,000 a night. And then there are the four mothers of his children that all sought out child support from him.
Warren Sapp is a Hall-of-Fame NFL defensive tackle. It’s suspected he made roughly $40 million during his NFL career, not including any sponsorships, endorsements, advertising gigs, and media appearances. And even with all that money, he wasn’t able to overcome his ridiculous spending: a 33rd-floor Hollywood Beach condo, 240 pairs of Air Jordans, a 15,000 square-foot mansion, and the monthly cost of alimony and child support.
Clinton Portis was a skilled player that managed to run for nearly 6,000 yards in his first four seasons. He retired in 2009, having earned a cool $43.1 million from just the NFL. Unfortunately for him, a pair of shady NFL financial advisors took advantage of him. They had him invest $3.1 million into an Alabama casino that went bust. Then there was the child support he had to pay to several women and a few million more went to IRS fees. He even owed his own mother some extra cash. He was $5 million by the end of it all.
Raghib “Rocket” Ismail
Raghib Ismail was a wide receiver for Notre Dame before he became a professional player. Everyone thought he’d be the number one draft pick in the NFL, but then he signed with the Canadian league and joined the Toronto Argonauts. Although, he did earn $20 million in both Canada and in the NFL together. However, he lost a ton of money through several bad investments. This included a Hard Rock Cafe knockoff, backing a religiously-themed film, several calligraphy shops, a phone card dispenser startup, a failed music label, and questionable cosmetological treatment. Ismail ended up losing at least $4 million because of those poor investments.
Over 13 years, Dermontti Dawson stayed a player for the Steelers. Out of his 184 games he started 181 of them. By 2012, Dawson was in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But then Dawson invested millions with multiple real estate partners, but found himself only able to claim minor controlling interest in all of them. After the housing crash in 2008, Dawson found himself with debts equaling $70 million. In 2010 he called it quits and declared bankruptcy.
Johnny Unitas was drafted and quickly cut from the Steelers in 1955. He played semi-pro football for a while before the Colts signed him back into the pro league. He went on to throw 290 touchdowns with 40,239 yards in 18 seasons of play. Although, despite his success on the field, Unitas didn’t have much success anywhere else. He started a bowling alley chain, a Florida-based real estate company, freight company, and purchased the National Circuits electronics company. The latter cost $5.3 million in loans. And when National Circuits went under he really dug himself into a hole and ended up declaring bankruptcy in 1991.
Luther Elliss spent almost his entire career with the Lions as a defensive lineman, only moving to Denver for his final season. Before retiring in 2004, Ellis had 29 sacks and 331 combined tackles. Between 200 and his retirement, he managed to amass $11.6 million. Although, after retiring he had invested in failed internet and real estate ventures. There’s also the amount he spent on mega-mansions. A father of 11, he filed for bankruptcy in 2010 with $4 million in outstanding liabilities and with too few assets to pay it off.
Dan Marino was a legend of the Miami Dolphins. Due to his performance as a quarterback, he earned $51 million, having scored 420 touchdowns and making 5,000 completions. His total yards gained was 61,361. But in 2012, Marino became an investor in Digital Domain Media Group, putting $14.5 million into the company. But when the company failed, his investment was worth less than a million. He ended up losing $13.6 million on just this one investment.
This former quarterback for the Broncos is currently worth around $145 million, but John Elway had some questionable financial decision after retirement that put him in the hole for a while. In 2010 it had been revealed that Elway had invest $15 million into a Ponzi, and lost at least $7 million. Fortunately, he’s managed to bounced back since then with investments on car dealerships and other industries.
McAlister used to be a cornerback for the Ravens with a $55 million contract. Yet, he still ended up broke. Child support battles with his ex-wife and several years of unemployment really took their toll. In 2011, he was recorded saying, “I live in my parents’ home. My parents provide me with my basic living expenses as I do not have the funds to do so.”
It’s easy to forget that O.J. Simpson was once a gifted running back. But to be fair, he’s more well-known for something else. Although Simpson was acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson Ron Goldman, he still had to pay $33.5 million to the families of the victims. And then he also ended up serving time in prison for completely unrelated crimes.
Muhsin Muhammad II
Once the star wide receiver of the Panthers and the Bears, Muhsin Muhammad II made two Pro Bowls and led the league in receiving yards in 2004. But in the end, Muhammad ended up being incapable of paying off his credit card debt and was sued by Wachovia Bank. He was entually forced to sell his house to finally be able to pay it off.
Archie Griffin won two Heisman Trophies during his college years. His NFL career was somewhat less remarkable, but he still played rather consistently. He was well-paid during his time in the league, but a series of bad investments in the sneaker industry almost eradicated his NFL earnings.