The litany of professional athletes, NFL players among them, who have blown their earnings has prompted much reflection on what causes millionaires to end up back where they started.
The reasons often cited are a desire to invest in startups (most fail), a line of family and friends needing financial help and general overspending on luxury items without planning for the future.
While stories of fortunes lost generate the buzz, many NFL stars walk away from the game set for life and even increase their wealth. Visa has even joined with the NFL and current players to help spread the financial literacy message in a program called Financial Football.
The website celebritynetworth.com catalogs the finances of the rich and famous using public information. While many on the list of NFL players are current players raking in mega-salaries, we decided to concentrate on those who played when salaries were not in the stratosphere. Check out 8 Ex-NFL Stars Worth a Fortune:
8. (tie) Deion Sanders
Net Worth: $40 million
“Neon Deion” was most famous for his exploits on the football field, but he carved out a baseball career at the same time for several Major League teams. In the NFL alone, he took home about $47 million. He also had endorsements for Pizza Hut, Nike and others as well as his baseball salary. A career as a TV football analyst has followed, and despite the electric nickname, Sanders has apparently stayed grounded on the financial front.
8. (tie) Fran Tarkenton
Net Worth: $40 million
Tarkenton was known for scrambling to avoid the fearsome pass rushers of the 1960s and ’70s. His quick feet helped lead the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl, although he never quite grabbed the brass ring. The scrambling continued after he hung up his jersey for good and he was swept up in a securities fraud investigation. The Associated Press reported that Tarkenton agreed to pay $100,000 to settle the charges against his software company. That fine barely put a dent in Tarkenton’s millions, made in large part from various educational software businesses.
6. Michael Strahan
Net Worth: $45 million
Strahan’s strength allowed him to set the NFL record for sacking the quarterback in a single season. His $60 million in NFL pay (minus some lost in a high-profile divorce) allowed him to put away a nest egg. And don’t forget his second career as co-host of “Live! With Kelly and Michael” and as a regular on “Fox NFL Sunday.” His TV salary is pegged at $10 million a year, mostly from “Live!”
5. Gale Sayers
Net Worth: $50 million
The shifty Chicago Bears running back had a meteoric career cut short by knee injuries. Despite playing just seven seasons, Sayers is considered among the greatest of all time. Adding to his luster in the popular imagination is his friendship with teammate Brian Piccolo whose battle with cancer was chronicled in Sayers’ book “I am Third” and the TV movie “Brian’s Song.” Through his Sayers Finance Corp., the former gridiron star has ridden the ups and downs of the financial markets to make his fortune.
4. Jim Brown
Net Worth: $50 million
Jim Brown is considered by most to be the greatest running back of all time. Perhaps the greatest athlete, as he is is widely regarded as the best collegiate lacrosse player, too. He walked away from the Cleveland Browns at the peak of his career and headed to Hollywood (think “Dirty Dozen” and “Any Given Sunday”), as well becoming a social activist, founding Amer-I-Can, an organization that helps equip young people with the skills needed to contribute to society.
3. Joe Montana
Net Worth: $80 million
Montana was a comeback kid from his quarterback career at Notre Dame to his days leading the dominant San Francisco 49ers teams of the 1980s. His pay was a fraction of what players make today (the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in 1990 of Montana’s salary of about $3 million finally matching his play). Still, shrewd investing in tech companies, as reported by Fortune and others, and huge fees for public appearances have landed him high on our list.
2. Brett Favre
Net Worth: $100 million
Favre, famed for his gun-slinging ways on the field, apparently avoided the pitfalls many professional athletes fall into when investing their money. The quarterback, who raked in $139 million in salary during his career with four teams, famously had a falling out with his main team, the Green Bay Packers. That’s all patched up now as Favre lives a quiet retirement with a few commercial pitches and public appearances sprinkled in.
1. Roger Staubach
Net Worth: $600 million
Staubach’s story read like something Hollywood would dream up. First, there was his Heisman Trophy winning collegiate career at the Naval Academy. Then, after serving a hitch that included a tour in Vietnam, he led the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories. His ability to guide the Cowboys to comeback wins is legendary. His post-football life is just as impressive. Staubach started a real estate business that provides investment and professional services that was sold to Jones Lang LaSalle in 2008. The ex-signal caller is the firm’s executive chairman.
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