Dolphins pass rusher Chris McCain had just gotten back from a particularly extravagant vacation when he got a phone call from his alarmed financial advisor.
“You spent over $70,000 in one month,” McCain was told.
For Ndamukong Suh, who makes $19 million a year, that’s manageable.
But for McCain, who earned just $420,000 as a rookie — before taxes and agent fees — it was a crisis.
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“I don’t have money to be spending like that,” McCain said. “I just wasn’t paying attention.”
McCain is paying attention now — thanks in part to the National Football League. The third-year defensive end this week has gotten a crash course in budgeting, investment planning and risk analysis.
He is one of more than two-dozen players to attend the NFL’s Personal Finance Academy, a four-day seminar in Fort Lauderdale hosted by the league’s player engagement department. The program is in partnership with TD Ameritrade and the University of Miami’s School of Business.
This week’s emphasis has been on generational wealth — investing their money in a way to benefit their family and community, long-term. Topics covered include “Funding an Uncertain Lifespan,” “Planning and Building Your Portfolio” and “Examining Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning.”
The seminar drew 45 participants, including 28 players and 17 wives, significant others, or, in the case of Antrel Rolle, his mom Armelia. It was the first time the NFL’s player engagement program was made available to family members.
Packers star Julius Peppers and Bears linebacker Stephen Tulloch flew to South Florida for the seminar. McCain, punter Matt Darr, linebackers Neville Hewitt and James-Michael Johnson and defensive end Jordan Williams represented the Dolphins.
Players had to only pay for transportation. The course fees were covered by the league’s tuition assistance program, which reimburses players up to $20,000 for continued education.
“The objective really is for these guys to come in here and understand what the future holds from them from an expense standpoint,” said retired Falcons and Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney, who helped organize the event. “Just about everyone in that room either has or wants to have a family someday.”
The classes not only provided the players a financial blueprint, but also real-life skills.
Cameron May, an investment coach for TD Ameritrade, walked the room through how to find stocks, bonds and real estate investment trusts with high returns and low expense ratios.
George Korniotis, an associate professor of finance at UM, helped the players identify, quantify and understand financial risk.
“Everyone might think, well, ‘I’m good at one thing. How can I make a mistake in financial decisions?’” said Alok Kumar, chairman of the finance department at UM. “It’s especially dangerous for football players, because they have tremendous skill in one area, and they might think that skill is transferable. It actually is not.”
“People who are super skilled in one area are most likely to make mistakes.”
After his vacation sticker shock, McCain learned from his mistake:
“Stop swiping,” he said. “Stop swiping and save.”
He’s doing just that. McCain has created a college account for his five-month old daughter Malayla, to which he adds every month.
“She was the one who opened up my eyes a lot more about the bigger picture,” he said. “I have to buckle down and stop thinking selfishly, stop having a selfish mind and not thinking for myself, and think about the future.”