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Optimum Performance: NFL players need to stop renting their health long before retirement | NOLA.com

New Orleans Saints strong safety Kenny Vaccaro (32) checks on teammate free safety Rafael Bush (25) after he is injured in the fourth quarter during the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints at the Superdome on Sunday, November 16, 2014. (Michael DeMocker, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune) (Michael DeMocker)

In last Sunday’s Money Watch column, NOLA.com | Times-Picayune columnist John H. Gin, said, “According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a baby boomer couple (those people born between 1946 -1964) retiring in 2020 will need an average of $225,000 to cover medical expenses,” associated with aging.

How about an NFL player forced to retire at an early age due to a career ending injury? You have to assume that with a normal NFL career, these early “retirees” will carry the lasting effects of significant damage control – injuries – into their “golden years.”

In 2011, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “Frequently, it is said that the average career is about 3.5 years. In fact, if a player makes an opening day roster, his career is very close to six years. If you are a first-round draft choice,” noted Goodell, “The average career is close to nine years.”

That being said, a 2013 Washington Post online survey of 500 retired NFL players found that nine in ten players reported suffering concussions, with six in ten reporting three or more. Nine in ten reported suffering at least one major injury, with half reporting three or more.

The Post also noted that 44 percent of the former NFL players surveyed said they had either a joint replacement or advised they would need one. “Jerry Kramer, an All-Pro offensive lineman with the Packers from 1958 to 1968 who won two Super Bowls under Coach Vince Lombardi, says he’s currently putting off a hip replacement,” the Post reported.

“Injuries? Let me give you a list,” Kramer, 77, said, via the Post. “Broken bones, leg, the leg below the knee, separated bone and ankle, had to have bolt put in, thumb, arm, broke rib, detached retina, concussion – all from football.”

The Post story cited that, “Overall, 77% of injuries to quarterbacks,” like Drew Brees, “happen above the waist with 32% for players in other positions.” Brees sustained a shoulder injury, while he was with San Diego Chargers that required a surgical repair. Prior to the start of this season, Brees sat out several preseason games with an obique (side) injury.

Many NFL players retire with more than enough money to handle the most complex damage control issues, if they received proper money management advice during their career. Yet, ESPN.com referenced a 2009 Sports Illustrated survey that said, “78 percent of NFL retirees have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce within two years of their careers ending.”

According to Gin, a Private Wealth Advisor at Gin & Associates in Metairie, “For the average worker, their income stream is spread out over a 30 to 35 year timeframe so saving for retirement can be more predictable and systematic.”

However, Gin also said, “Because NFL players tend to make their incomes in a career that may span 5 to 6 years, education must be provided to let the players know that the high income and lifestyle doesn’t last forever,” especially if they have been beaten up along the way.

Bloomberg’s businessweek.com stated that in 2011 the average NFL salary was $1.9 million – with a median salary of $770,000. In 2013, 70% of NFL players were between the ages of 22-27, according to businessinsider.com.

Gin gives the example of a player who invests $5,000 annually between the ages of 25 to 35 for a total investment of $50,000 (10 years @ $5,000 per year), with what he calls, “the right financial coaching,” could earn $602,070 by the normal retirement age of 65 -assuming a 7% annualized return. This amount should be more than enough for an NFL player to deal with the residual effects of the type of damage alluded to by Kramer.

Let me also offer to our Saints players a free download of my last book – Stop Renting Your Health, Own it – a Three Step Approach. Based on my 40 years of experience with pro athletes – including many NFL players, they must take ownership of their health now before their health owns them – not the type of defense they would want to face in the fourth quarter of their life.

Link: Optimum Performance: NFL players need to stop renting their health long before retirement | NOLA.com.