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Which NFL players have 'gone broke' after their career?

Bankruptcy amongst former players might be more common than you think.

We take a look at a handful of former NFL players who have found themselves filing for bankruptcy after careers during which they earned millions

As unbelievable as it may seem, bankruptcy is not an uncommon theme amongst retired NFL players

Study analyses NFL players and their financial trouble

The careers of professional athletes are often synonymous with fame and fortune, yet there are many former NFL players who have learned the hard way that sometimes the money isn't enough relative to the bad decisions or luxurious habits. Roughly 16% of retired football players end up bankrupt within 12 years of stepping off the field for the last time, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Who are the former NFL players that are broke?

Over the years there have been a number of former NFL players who found themselves in financial turmoil. Whether bad investments or legal issues the result was the same, they all went from riches to rags. Here we take a look at a handful of the biggest names who made those mistakes:

Warren Sapp

Defensive lineman and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Warren Sapp spent 12 years in the NFL, during that time he earned more than $82 million. Sapp, however, ran into serious trouble when he compounded a questionable real estate deal with alimony and child supports payments totaling $74,495 a month. His focus on a luxurious lifestyle didn't help either and he finally filed for bankruptcy in 2012 just five years after he retired. With $6.7 million in debt Sapp claimed at the time he was unable to pay, even though he was still earning $115,881 every month as an analyst for the NFL Network. Sapp's position as an analyst was eventually terminated 2015 when he got into legal trouble. To this day his former wife continues to allege that he owes her #3 million.

John Elway alongside Steelers' president Art Rooney II
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John Elway alongside Steelers' president Art Rooney IICharles LeClaireUSA TODAY Sports

John Elway

Elway's inclusion on this list may seem strange as technically he never went broke, in fact his post football success which has seen his worth rise to $145 million was quite notable. On the other hand the size of some of his losses do raise some eyebrows. Elway had made a series of lucrative investments in car dealerships and other businesses when in 2010 he fell victim along with many others to a Ponzi scheme. The former Bronco reportedly invested $15 million eventually losing $7 million on his investment. Elway was also known to have said 'no' to an investment opportunity offered to him by Bronco's owner Pat Bowlen. At the time a 10% stake in the team was promoted at $15 million with an option for a further 10% based on conditions. Today that stake would be worth $388 million.

Vince Young

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As a rookie in 2006, Vince Young signed a $25.7 million five-year deal with the Tennessee Titans. While there was no legal troubles or bad investments, it is ironically his generosity that got him into trouble. A high interest loan which was taken out during the 2011 player lock out surely didn't help, however, Young was known for paying excessive amounts for his friends and fellow teammates when dining out. On one memorable occasion he spent $6,000 on a meal at a T.G.I.Friday’s

OJ Simpson

Without doubt the most infamous name on the list, OJ Simpson was not only a top NFL player but at the height of his career, perhaps one of the most revered American sports stars. That was of course before decades of scandal and legal trouble stemming from the double murder of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. While Simpson was acquitted of the 1994 murders he was ordered by a civil court to pay $33.5 million to the victims’ surviving family members.

Today Simpson is serving out a prison sentence for kidnapping and robbery after he attempted to reclaim memorabilia that he alleges was stolen from his Florida home in 2013. He has also faced foreclosure and has unpaid taxes. It is understood that Simpson still earns a $25,000 pension per month, however, given his tax and debt situation it is quite probable that it is of little importance. When he is released he undoubtedly find it hard to earn an income.


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