Marshawn Lynch’s recent playoff postgame press conference highlighted a real problem many career athletes will have to face.
When Marshawn Lynch speaks these days, everyone listens. His press conference after Sunday’s NFC divisional round was no exception.
As always, Lynch gave a memorable soundbite in his short time facing the media. The realest person in the NFL had some advice for the next generation:
“I had a couple players that I played with that they’re no longer here no more — they’re no longer — so you feel me? Take care of y’all mentals, y’all bodies, y’all chicken, so when y’all ready to walk away, y’all walk away and you’ll be able to do what y’all want to do.”
Leading up to that, Lynch noted how many younger NFL players aren’t great at taking care of their money — that’s the “chicken” — and that taking the time to learn money management can make life after the game much easier. It’s great advice even beyond the limited scope of NFL players, in my opinion.
Everyone should learn how to balance a checkbook (even if you mostly use online banking) and how to create a budget. Everyone should get at least a basic understanding of the credit system and learn to tell the difference between traditional lending and truly predatory loans. You may not remember a lick of trigonometry when you graduate — I certainly don’t and I’ll never need to — but you’ll 100 percent need to know this stuff. It should be mandatory practice in every high school with classes completely devoted to basic personal finance. I did learn how to balance a checkbook in one of my high school classes, but it was part of another elective and I had to figure everything else out later.
Pro athletes are just more likely than most people to get in financial trouble. There are always people who crawl out of the woodwork looking for handouts and crawl back in when you’re in trouble. There are shady agents and accountants and wealth management people out there who will take advantage of someone’s lack of personal finance skills and skim from the pot.
Allen Iverson earned hundreds of millions of dollars during his NBA career and filed for bankruptcy in 2012, stating his monthly income was $62,500 against expenses of $360,000. He’s luckier than most in that Reebok set up a trust fund for him that he’ll collect on in 10 years. NHL defenseman Jack Johnson’s parents controlled his finances since his career began, but racked up eight figures of debt enriching their own lives and using his earnings to pay off predatory lenders while keeping him in the dark for years. Countless others have fallen for ponzi schemes, made bad business or real estate investments or couldn’t kick a gambling addiction before it was too late.
There’s plenty of information available online to help you learn how to balance a checkbook and even mobile apps out there that will help you put together a budget for yourself and save money. Take advantage of what you can if you know you need help.
Like Lynch said, the sooner y’all learn to take care of your chicken, the better.