While I applaud most efforts to improve kids' financial literacy, I still raise an eyebrow when famous jocks get involved. Such is the case with Super Bowl-winning quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.
Brees is teaming with Visa to pump up students' knowledge about handling money. He tours high schools to tell personal
stories, like how his unpaid college cell phone bill jacked up the terms of his first home loan. He also referees a quiz competition called Financial Football, which NFL rookies are also encouraged to play. Every correct answer moves the ball down the field. Teachers and students can download the game for free, and the iPhone has an app for it.
The Visa executive who wrote an article about Brees that appeared on the Huffington Post also directs readers to other virtual money lessons -- the Federal Trade Commission's mall-travel game You Are Here, the Treasury Department's Bad Credit Hotel and Wells Fargo's Hands On Banking.
All good. (And let's not forget WalletPop's recent suggestions for kid finance books.) But I can't help but think that having football players educate the masses in money management is a bit like having arsonists teach fire prevention.
While Brees appears to be a responsible exception, NFL players are notorious for squandering their savings. Seventy-eight percent of NFL players go bankrupt or are in serious financial straits just two years into retirement, according to Sports Illustrated. Sixty percent of NBA veterans meet the same fate five years into their golden umbrella. It seems that champion athletes who have squandered their fortunes could fill a small stadium.
Would you or your child have wanted to hear about money management from the most responsible guy at Lehman Brothers? That's how I liken Brees. He is now the teach-our-children-well face of a billions-earning business that churns out employees who spend as if life were one giant Monopoly board.
Brees also has plenty of wiggle room for mistakes, making $10 million a year. I'm not sure a guy operating in that monetary stratosphere has a lot to tell our children. But because he is Drew Brees, maybe they'll listen.
I've compiled a few other money hints from businesspundit.com that kids can learn for themselves just by reading the sports pages.
Don't do drugs: Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor lived fast, snorted cocaine hard, and went bankrupt despite making $50 million in his playing career.
Consider family planning: Evander Holyfield, the four-time heavyweight boxing champion, foreclosed on a home and got sued for falling behind in child support payments. I guess $250 million in career earnings just doesn't buy what it used it to. It was reported that part of Holyfield's problems stemmed from having 11 children. Nearly ditto for $20 million football running back Travis Henry, who has nine children by nine different moms. He told the court he couldn't afford child support.
Don't invest in too many depreciating assets: Baseball slugger Jack Clark went deep -- into debt -- after buying 18 cars, including a $717,000 Ferrari. Going going gone were his $20 million Major League wages.
Get trustworthy support: WNBA pioneer Sheryl Swoopes hit nothing but net gain -- $50 million to be exact -- in a Nike-enhanced Hall of Fame career. Until, she said, agents and lawyers bled her into bankruptcy, with $750,000 in debt.
Here's hoping that Brees won't commit glaring money miscues. Nothing looks worse for a credit card company than when its spokesman for fiscal smarts turns into a cautionary tale.
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