An open letter to friends, connections, and especially other pro athletes:
When I knew I had the opportunity to play in the NFL, my family and I knew the smart thing to do was start to interview financial advisors. With the amount of money I would potentially be coming into, it made sense to have professionals in my corner. Going through that process was eye-opening.
What questions do I even ask? I just assumed that I would pick someone who I liked and could stay with forever…and that they knew what they were doing! I picked my advisor and had meetings with him yearly. He helped me with a lot of things and I trusted everything he did. He was very friendly, and always kind to my family and me. We didn’t need anything above and beyond what advisors usually do for clients, but…I still didn’t really understand investments. Why am I invested in this stock/bond/fund? What are its expenses? How risky is it? Does it really align with what my goals are? Do I have unrealistic expectations? In hindsight, I should I should have dug deeper.
Athletes are inherently confident people. Because of this confidence, and a general lack of understanding about investments and financial planning, it was easier for me to just say, “I trust my guy.” All of this without knowing for sure he was doing what was in my best interest. I wish I had gotten a second look.
After my career started slowing down and I got interested in looking for what might be next, a mentor said I should take over my own finances. I read up on a few different books and talked with a number of advisors about what their thoughts were and financial planning and investing. As I looked through my own portfolio, I eventually brought another friend/advisor into it. What he and his team found was disturbing. I knew that my investments didn’t seem like they were making much progress when other guys said they were "making bank" in the market, and felt too dumb that I didn’t know money well enough to say or reach out to anyone before this time. But, God has called us to be good stewards of what He's given us, and I knew I didn't know as much as I should. When I finally did dig deeper, the damage was already done. My "guy" had put almost a quarter of my investments into an investment that was so risky, it completely imploded, and there was no way to get it back. There's a word in our industry called a "fiduciary," and "my guy" claimed to be one. Simply put, it means that he has an obligation to act in my best interest. As it turns out, he didn't, and it has put me on a path to helping others avoid some of the financial pain I've been through. But sadly, this story is all too common, especially among young, wealthy athletes.
Above all, I am a follower of Christ, and I believe these lessons were given to me for my next purpose; helping others make good financial decisions so that they may pursue their own purpose. Become a financial advisor has become my path. I know there is a long road ahead, as nothing worthwhile is easy. But similar to my faith in Jesus Christ, if my story is able to help the people in my circle, or realize that we need to be better stewards of what God’s given us, then it is a worthy cause. It can be frustrating sometimes, but I already know this grind. After all, I did it for 19 football seasons. I got this!
My experience has made me wiser. Sharing what I've learned, and continue to learn, is the door God has opened for my career after sports.