Today’s football players can earn sizable sums of money for their efforts both on the field and away from it. Players with the most lucrative contracts this season include Patrick Mahomes, who earns $45 million a year playing as the quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, and Russell Wilson, who receives an annual salary of $35 million for playing as quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.
The most successful players can top up their salaries with lucrative endorsement contracts with big brands. Companies know that consumers are likely to trust athletes and therefore can increase their sales by creating an association with them. For example, Odell Beckham Jr, the wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, has around $26.5 million in endorsement contracts with Nike, Head & Shoulders, EA Sports, Lenovo, Dunkin’ Donuts, Foot Locker and Steiner Sports.
However, these huge incomes don’t last forever. The average career length of an NFL player is between three and seven years.
When they hang up their boots and helmet for the final time, many players look for something new to do, often needing to find a new income stream. Many turn to punditry, either working as a TV anchor or commentator, or by making NFL picks and predictions. Some choose to leave the sport altogether and invest their time and money into a business of their own.
In fact, NFL players now receive entrepreneurship and business training to help them when they do retire from the sport.
Here are some players who’ve made a success of their business endeavours.
Jon Vilma was a linebacker for the New York Jets and the New Orleans Saints before he retired in 2013. Originally from Coral Gables, Vilma returned to his home state of Florida when he retired from the NFL.
In Miami, Vilma set up his own bar. It was this venture that gave him an idea to create an app to change the way people buy drinks in bars and restaurants. Called BarEye, the app lets customers open a tab and order drinks right to their table, instead of waiting in line and arguing over who’s next.
He started BarEye with a trial of 17 establishments in Tallahassee, Florida, before expanding to more cities in the state.
Peyton Manning was a quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos in a career that spanned a whopping 17 years. He’s been successful at whatever he’s tried his hand at, being the first pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, winning the Super Bowl twice, and a whole host of other accolades.
After leaving the NFL, Manning continued to have more success. He acquired 31 franchises of the pizza chain Papa John’s, operating them and working as a brand ambassador for the company for six years. He stated he liked the company because of its connection to football.
So when Papa John’s ended its contract to be official pizza sponsor of the NFL, Manning sold his franchises. More recently, he and his brother have been working on other businesses, including a bourbon brand.
After retiring from the Chicago Bears after 11 years with the team, Lance Briggs went on to set up his own barbecue restaurant. Called the Double Nickel Smokehouse, the restaurant served up a range of delicious meats, as well as favorites like creamy mac and cheese.
The Double Nickel Smokehouse closed in 2017 though, being replaced by another restaurant concept.
Briggs has continued working, now operating as the Chicago Bears’ analyst for the Football Aftershow on NBC Sports Chicago. He works with some of his former teammates, Alex Brown and Olin Kreutz, as well as the experienced broadcaster, David Kaplan.
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