15 NFL Players Who Went Broke


Chad Johnson

Back in 2012, right before his NFL career came to a close, former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson purchased a $265,000 in Miami, which had six-bedrooms and four-bathrooms. Anyone who knows home prices in big cities would tell you that such a price for such a home is a steal. But apparently Johnson couldn’t even afford the steal he got.

The Coconut Cay Homeowners Association for where his home is located sued Johnson for the $2,200+ in HOA fees he owed, plus other associated fees. Johnson told the HOA that he was dealing with financial hardships that made it difficult for him to pay the requisite fees.


Mark Brunell

One major reason why quarterback Mark Brunell continued to play football past the age of 40? He needed the money after a series of bad business investments. In 2011, Brunell was reported to have $5 million in assets to his name, but he owed almost $25 million in debts.

Most of those debts came as a result of bad business investments (like opening Whataburger franchises in the Jacksonville area), and investing in real estate right before the market crashed. Supposedly Brunell has five business ventures that ended up making zero money, and were eventually dead.


Warren Sapp

The Hall of Fame defensive tackle hasn’t exactly had a fruitful life after football. His income potential has already been limited thanks to a myriad of legal troubles that have kept him from being gainfully employed, including a battery lawsuit by a woman who claimed Sapp ran her over at a Super Bowl party in 2015.

So, it’s very difficult to see a way for Sapp to pay off the alimony and child support payments he owes, totaling just under $75,000 per month. Sapp filed for bankruptcy in 2012, given the $6.7 million in debts he owes, not to mention another $3 million he supposedly owes his ex-wife.


Deuce McAllister

Most people think that lavish (and foolish) spending habits are the reason that many athletes go broke, but one of the biggest reasons it happens is actually the result of bad (and also foolish) business investments. Take Deuce McAllister, for example…

Despite earning over $70 million over the course of his career, McAllister quickly went broke thanks to an investment in a failed car dealership. At one point in time, McAllister was over $7 million in debt, and less than a year after retiring from the NFL, his home was auctioned off to help pay off his debt(s).


Andre Rison

The tempestuous and forever trash-talking Andre Rison is as broke as they come, when it comes to former NFL players who have no money left to their name. Rison claims to have spent over a million dollars on jewelry over the course of his NFL career, and admits that the temptation of having all this money in the bank to spend got the best of him repeatedly.

He was also one to flaunt his wealth, wearing extravagant clothes, and purchasing automobiles just because he had the financial ability to do so (regardless of whether he needed it). He was one of the main speakers on ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary titled “Broke.”


Tiki Barber

As the saying goes: hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. When it was revealed that former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber was cheating on his eight-months-pregnant wife with an intern at NBC (where he worked as an NFL analyst), the network immediately dropped him, and he effectively became blackballed in the broadcasting community because of the bad PR of his infidelity.

As a result of not being able to work in that field anymore, Barber publicly stated that he’s “broke” enough to where he can’t even afford a divorce settlement with his (now) ex-wife, to support the four children he had with her.


Dermontti Dawson

Back in 2010, Hall of Fame center Dermontti Dawson reportedly had assets totaling upwards of $1.4 million. So why is he on this list? Because he also had liabilities totaling just under a staggering $70 million. Dawson blamed the tanking housing market and failed business ventures (in which he claims he had non-controlling minority interests) for the accumulation of all that debt.

Unsurprisingly, Dawson had to declare bankruptcy. It got to the point where he listed his remaining assets with things like a “fake Rolex” watch, which he appraised at $10.


Lawrence Taylor

It’s no secret that Lawrence Taylor had a habit of indulging in recreational substances that are “consumed” by being snorted up your nose. It’s also no secret that said substances are very expensive.

Between Taylor’s substance abuse spending, lavish lifestyle filled with extravagant parties and clothing, and the inability to hold down a job after being arrested several times after leaving the league, Taylor had to declare bankruptcy in the 1990’s, despite earning $50 million over the course of his NFL career. But those financial hardships still didn’t prevent him from allegedly paying $300 for an underaged prostitute.


Luther Elliss

In 2014, former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Luther Elliss made news when he spoke at the most recent NFL rookie symposium about the importance of managing their career earnings. Elliss would know, considering he went broke after retiring, despite earning $11 million during his playing days.

Elliss, by his own admission, didn’t have any substance abuse or gambling problems. Rather, he suffered from the very typical combination of trying to live a lifestyle of a professional athlete (without the athlete salary), and making a bunch of bad business investments which sucked his earnings dry.


Terrell Owens

If you want to feel better about yourself, at the risk of putting down a high-profile professional athlete, then consider the fact that you might be worth more than wide receiver Terrell Owens, who reportedly is worth $0. Owens earned $70 million over this 15-year NFL career, but has literally none of that money left.

He hit all the key parts of the “going broke smorgasbord,” in that he would lend too much money to family members and friends, he was paying for mortgages and child support for four different women, and he made poor business decisions with his money, such as a $2 million investment in an electronic bingo business.


Bernie Kosar

Also a featured speaker in the ESPN “30 for 30” documentary titled “Broke,” former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar spoke about the dangers and perils of loaning money to family members. Kosar mentioned that he eventually learned his father was taking a portion of Kosar’s earnings to pay for his own mortgage and car payments, while also insisting on managing his son’s finances.

Kosar claimed that, after his playing days were over, he made at least “ten times” in earnings compared to what he made when he played in the NFL, but in a 2013 report, Kosar once had as little as $44 in his checking account.


Chris McAlister

If someone told you a two-time NFL All-Pro cornerback was living with his parents in his post-playing days, you’d probably think it’s some weird plot line in a doomed-to-fail sitcom. But former Baltimore Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister described himself as “broke as a joke,” and admitted to living with his parents, the latter of whom provide McAlister effectively with an allowance for his basic living expenses.

Again, we’re talking about a player who earned $55 million over the course of his career. No word yet on whether his parents are helping him with the $11,000 per month he owes to his ex-wife for child support payments.


Clinton Portis

Shortly after the Washington Redskins traded for running back Clinton Portis, before the 2004 season started, they gave him an eight-year deal worth $50.5 million in total, which included $17 million in combined signing and option bonuses. At the time, the deal made Portis the highest-paid running back in NFL history.

But Portis supposedly entrusted much of his savings to two financial advisors (registered with the NFLPA), whom Portis accuses of putting his money in a Ponzi scheme. Portis lost over $3 million in said scheme, and later earned that he also had an additional $5 million in debts he owed to various people and entities.


Travis Henry

Whenever people complain that professional athletes are paid too much and made too many stupid mistakes with their (copious amounts of) money, running back Travis Henry is one of their first arguments for such a statement. In 2009, Henry went in front of a judge and stated that he has no money to pay for the child support of any of his nine children (with nine different women).

Of course, we later learned that Henry still had thousands of dollars in jewelry, even though he supposedly “couldn’t” pay for his kids. In 2009, Henry was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for his part in financing an interstate drug ring.


Jamarcus Russell

After putting on one of the best pre-draft workouts that most analysts had ever seen at the time, quarterback Jamarcus Russell became the #1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, which earned him a six-year contract worth up to $68 million, with $31.5 million guaranteed.

But Russell’s immaturity, battles with his weight, and eventual addiction to codeine cost him his NFL career. Less than two years after signing the aforementioned rookie deal, Russell defaulted on the mortgage of his 5,800-square-foot home in Oakland, California. When he bought the home, it was worth $3 million, but it sold at auction for less than $500,000.

Dale Cooper

Spent 10+ years in corporate finance before I realized how much more I enjoyed writing and advising people on how to achieve financial freedom. We all have different goals, what are yours?

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