• By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.
• Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.
Of the many other tidbits in the article, this is my favorite: in the past three months, 400 championship rings have been pawned with one company, championship-rings.net, including a 2008 Super Bowl ring.
Pro athletes, it seems, are regarded by sleazy businessmen as the easiest source of capital for dubious ventures, and the roll of big name athletes who have lost everything investing in questionable inventions, bad real estate deals, silly theme businesses, and so on is lengthy and sad.
Reading the first part of the article, I kept thinking, "Where are their wives?" I mean, what some of these guys obviously need is to use the time-honored trick of the newly rich man and marry an educated woman from an old money background, or else a stock broker. Then I got to the section on divorce. There aren't any statistics, but the people SI spoke to estimate the divorce rate for pro athletes at 60 to 80 percent. A lot of them marry girlfriends from their old neighborhoods, partly because they have more faith in the people who liked them before they made it. But that means their girlfriends are as ignorant about money as they are, and every bit as whipsawed by the flood of wealth and its sudden disappearance. After they retire, the athletes go from being rich and very busy to being bored, lost, and unemployed, and of course active athletes are famously unfaithful, so they have a lot to argue with their wives about when they are home together.
The whole thing is a sad sermon on how fleeting money and fame are, and how much better most people are without them.