The big game is done. And for the Patriots, it’s pay day. Exactly how much does each player make for winning? Here’s the breakdown:

Postseason bonus pay:

  • Divisional round: $27,000
    • Conference round: $49,000
    • Winning the championship game: $107,000
    Total bonus money: $183,000

    And of course, there’s the ring.

The losing team also gets a payout. Adding their postseason up, their total bonus is $129,000. A nice consolation prize.

It’s a lot of money. But don’t forget to look at the big picture and the difficulties these athletes face. For many NFL players, it’s not a career paved with gold. In 2009 Sports Illustrated estimated that 78% of NFL players face financial difficulties within two years of the end of their careers. How can you go from making millions of dollars, to nothing?

How they lose it:
At such a young age, it is very hard for an athlete to know how to handle such a sudden financial windfall. With fame and fortune, there’s a temptation to spend it too quickly. Or they invest too much in bad real estate deals, shoe lines, energy drinks, and other ventures. All of that combined with the fact that the average NFL career is 3.5 years. Most people know when they will retire, but professional athletes never know when their careers will end—they’re always one injury away.

Some players that lost big:

  • Warren Sapp spent 12 years in the NFL, earning more than $82 million. But a bad real estate deal, child supports payments totaling $74,495 a month, and a lavish lifestyle all contributed to a bankruptcy filing in 2012. 
  • Vince Young signed a $25.7 million deal with the Tennessee Titans. But a bumpy career led the 30-year-old player to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2014.

    • It’s not just the NFL, NBA star Antoine Walker earned over $108 million. He reportedly never wore the same designer suit twice, and said he was lending financial support to 70 friends and family members. Walker filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2010.

What’s the recurring theme for most players who lose their money? Poor financial decision making.

The lesson for all of us:

Even though the Pats players are walking away with a big payday, it comes down to the same issues that pertain to everyone: You have to be smart about your money. Even if you are making boatloads of it, if you’re not careful it can disappear. Here are three simple tips:

  • Make a budget: 
    What are you making each month? What are you spending? What are your short and long-term debts (credit cards, car loans, mortgage, etc.)? Once you know these numbers, set a budget and stick to it. 
  • Create a financial plan:
    Chart out your future needs and goals. At what age do you want to retire? What do you expect your income and expenses to be in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years? Don’t forget to consider family expenses if they apply, will you be paying for a child’s education, wedding, etc.?

    • Put your money to work:
    Save and invest 10-15% of your income. Invest through a retirement savings account to reduce your taxes and help ensure your retirement. Avoid financial products that carry high commissions and expenses. 

A great example of a successful football player investing well is Glover Quin hwo plays for my Detroit Lions. Since he was drafted in 2009, he’s saved 70% of his take home income. In 5 years, his plan should make him an equivalent to his NFL play. He may not have a super big ring, he’s a financial winner.

No matter how much money you make, if you’re not careful, it can be fleeting. We leave you with this quote from Robert Kiyosaki which sums it up nicely: “It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.”

Richard Feight is a Fee-Only Certified Financial Planner™ and Professional NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor at IAM-Financial. Rich has 20 years of experience offering low cost “Fee-Only” comprehensive financial planning and investment advice. For more information, email:

Rich Feight, CFP
Rich Feight, CFP

Hi, I'm Rich Feight I'm a fee-only Certified Financial Planner, successful business owner, and self-made millionaire that knows how to beat the system and become wealthy. I have a lot of clients that have done it too. I'm also pretty good at finding that ever-elusive work/life balance so many of us strive for. Lucky for you I have an abundant mindset and give all my knowledge away on my blog. So if you want to know what it takes to become a millionaire, follow me.