For NFL Players, Real Estate Is a Path to Post-Sports Success

NFL players are gaining practical knowledge on investing

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During Super Bowl weekend, it felt like the entire city of Atlanta was focused on one thing: football.

But the day before the big game, in the ornate dining room of an upscale Buckhead eatery, a group of former and current NFL players was focused on something much more important:the future.

“I had a great mentor who literally said the NFL stood for ‘Not For Long,’ and I’m sure a lot of us have heard the same,” said former New York Giants defensive end and two-time Super Bowl champ Justin Tuck. “So even at 22, 23, I was thinking about things that I was interested in, things that I wanted to learn more about.”

For Tuck, that interest ended up being business. After his time in the NFL, he graduated from the Wharton School with an MBA in 2018, and he currently works as a vice president in the private wealth management division at Goldman Sachs.

His post-football career made him the perfect candidate to sit on the panel at the Super Bowl Weekend event “Real Estate Investing for the Modern Athlete,” an educational opportunity for former and current NFL players to learn about the world of real estate. The event was hosted by Verified Sports and Entertainment, a company co-founded by Michael Haddix and Jon Budish to help athletes become “financially empowered.”

“I don’t wanna be beating my head against the wall, trying to figure out what’s next,” said Oakland Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead, one of the players who attended the event. “When I decide to hang up the cleats, or God forbid anything happens, I’ll still be in my 30s—and that’s still pretty young. So I have to find something to do at that point… to continue to have some sort of income, to provide for my family.”

According to Sports Illustrated, almost 80 percent of NFL players go bankrupt in their first three years after leaving the sport. The determination not to be one of those players is why events like these are so useful, Whitehead said.

“Knowing the history, the percentages of guys being bankrupt or broke two or three years after NFL, that’s constantly on my mind...I don’t want to be a statistic.”

The event’s panel featured Tuck alongside other real estate professionals, including Daniel Bassichis, co-founder of Admiral Capital Group; James Maher, principal of Harbor Road Holdings; and Bria Bailey, founder of Radcliffe Ventures. The discussion leaned hard into the technical aspects of investing in real estate. Though the event was set up as something of a crash course, plenty of practical knowledge was shared.

The panelists covered types of real estate, ways to secure funding and common mistakes in investing, including being overly trusting of the people close to you, something athletes frequently struggle with.

Patrick Basler

“When I first started investing in real estate, it was more or less because I liked the person or I felt comfortable with the person. Now it’s more of a business transaction, where I have to do my due diligence on whatever it is I’m investing in,” Tuck said to the group.

For some players, that’s a lesson they’ve already learned on the field, and they can now apply it to their investments.

“Like Tuck said, having that due diligence, having that patience. From what I learned playing football, you gotta have a lot of patience,” said Eagles linebacker LaRoy Reynolds.

While numerous lessons from sports can be applied to the business world, the transition to a successful post-sports career can be challenging.

“One day I was playing football, the next I was studying business plans,” said former NFL safety Ryan Mundy. “I made a very rapid transition, and I think that was helpful for me… so I didn’t have too much time to think about ‘Oh, I miss football.’”

Events like these are “super helpful” and “imperative” in easing that transition, players at the luncheon said, because they provide the practical know-how to execute post-sports plans. But players shouldn’t forget the qualities of drive, discipline, grit and hard work that they learned on the field.

“Take away the physical acts of running into a person or shooting a jump shot or swinging a bat—take those away, you still have those intrinsic characteristics at your core,” said Mundy. “Pick ’em up and put ’em in a new context.”

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