In 2009, Sports Illustrated estimated that 78% of NFL players were bankrupt or faced serious financial stress within two years of ending their careers. It also estimated that 60% of professional basketball players were broke within five years of retiring from the NBA. Athletes including Dorothy Hamill, John Daly, Lenny Dykstra, Scottie Pippen and, more recently, Mike Tyson (who is currently suing his financial advisor for fraud) have experienced headline-making money management difficulties.
It occurs despite (or maybe because of) the fact that average salaries, broken out by league, are as follows:
NBA $5.15 million
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MLB $3.13 million
NHL $2.4 million
NFL $1.9 million
David Emma (right), managing director and partner at HighTower’s Masterson, Emma & Associates, manages professional athletes’ finances, a role to which he’s perfectly suited.
A finance major and a hockey player at Boston College, he won the 1991 Hobey Baker Award as the best college hockey player in the U.S. Emma went on to play for the New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers, as well as in Europe. Yet after receiving bad financial advice during the tech bubble, he decided to commit his post-hockey career to advising former teammates and other athletes on investing their money with confidence.
“They trust me more, without a doubt,” he says of his clientele. “Being able to understand on a day-to-day basis what they’re experiencing since I also played at that level makes a huge difference.”
Emma notes the four stages he sees to the career of a professional athlete: young guys just coming in, guys in the heart of their contract, guys beginning to transition out and thinking about what to do next, and retirement.