18-year veteran NFL quarterback Mark Brunell is facing a financial disaster as he nears retirement. Even though he has a better playoff winning percentage than Peyton Manning it seems that Brunell will have to start a 9-to-5 job immediately after retiring.
For NFL Athletes High Earnings Often Don’t Guarantee a Comfortable Retirement
Action News Jacksonville reports the current Jets backup and former Jaguars star somehow managed to earn big money and to run through all of it, some $50 million, as an active player. To say that Brunell was a much better quarterback than a business person would be a drastic understatement.
Brunell even won a New Orleans Saints world championship ring as Drew Brees’ backup quarterback in Super Bowl XLIV. He was also the starting quarterback in two AFC title games with the Jags.
Mark Brunell is now 40 and will likely retire after this NFL season. Unfortunately, he has blown all of his 18-year NFL earnings with poor investments into nine businesses, most of which are already out of business. One business was to invest in high-end real estate properties. This probably looked like a good choice during the real estate boom but was completely crushed during the ongoing real estate bust.
Another unsuccessful business was in a Whataburger fast food franchise. According to financial documents Brunell lost every penny that he invested and more as he was on the hook for substantial loans. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback is still involved in six lawsuits and according to litigation filings is being sued for $24.7 million.
Bankruptcy is a Sad Outcome for a High Earning Professional Athlete
Underwater with such a debt load, Mark Brunell has recently and not surprisingly filed for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy filings show that Brunell has lined up a post-NFL career job as a medical sales representative. He will have to sell a lot of medical supplies and equipment to even come close to the income that he enjoyed as a pro football quarterback.
According to Ken Ruettgers, a former Green Bay Packers lineman and Brunell teammate who is now working to help retired football players who experience financial and psychological problems, a majority of athletes have trouble very soon after hanging up the pads. “It’s something like 78 percent of former NFL players, two years after their last game, are either bankrupt, divorced, or unemployed,” Ruettgers stated to WAWS-TV in Jacksonville.
If true, this is an enormously sad statistic. It seems that the majority of professional football players, and probably professional athletes from most sports, would benefit early in their careers from sound financial planning advice. Unfortunately, for Mark Brunell, who has already blown a small fortune in earnings, his high earning professional football career is over and the future looks grim.
Mark Brunell in better times. Photo by Keith Allison.