It's Not What You Make; It's What You Keep

03/23/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A couple of cautionary financial tales about once high-paid NFL stars have been in the news. It is always interesting to me that when big contracts are signed, the numbers are a big part of the story, whether accurate or not, as a report of a player signing with a team seems incomplete without an accounting of the numbers. Usually, the numbers are advanced by the agent or someone looking for the headline with the biggest number of millions possible.

When things go south on finances, however, the stories are harder to find. We have no idea how many players have played years in professional sports for substantial money and are now facing financial distress. The reasons are varied, but usually involve some lack of personal control and delayed gratification on luxury items, as well as business deals that have failed, many of which should never have happened with their names attached to begin with.

Deuce's Car Troubles

Last week it was reported that former Saint Deuce McAllister is involved in some deep conflict with Nissan regarding a dealership that he had lent his name to. Nissan sued McAllister after the dealership -- in Jackson, Mississippi -- closed and defaulted on loans, seeking more than 1.5 million. McAllister has now countersued, claiming Nissan's financing division failed to help his struggling dealership succeed. This is one of dozens of examples around the NFL of players getting involved in businesses without the proper background or -- more importantly -- counsel and trusted advisors to succeed.

The Saints signed McAllister last week in a ceremonial signing to allow him to be an honorary captain for the playoff game. For that, he was paid $21,000. Needing the roster spot for this week's game, they have now "retired" McAllister who will remain retired unless, of course, a team wants him to play in 2010.

Bernie's Bad Debts

Bernie Kosar was a very successful quarterback in the NFL and, by all appearances, seemed to be successful in his post-career dealings. Kosar made significant earnings -- although certainly not the level of today's top quarterbacks -- in playing for the Browns from 1985-1993. Now the Browns are one of his creditors as he faces bankruptcy.

According to court records, Kosar is 19 million in debt. His assets are listed at less than half that amount, 9.2M, and they will be sold off to creditors now to start satisfying that debt. In addition to owing the Browns -- who have obviously lent Kosar money beyond the money paid while he was playing -- an amount of 1.5 million, some of Kosar's debts include 3 million to his ex-wife and 9 million to a bank for his borrowing on real estate deals gone sour.

Bernie Kosar would not be a name that comes to mind as a former player that would have serious financial concerns post-NFL. But he is, and his situation is severe. These sad stories are out there, more than we know. As I have said many times here and to players of all income brackets, the important thing to players is not what they make; it is what they keep. Ask Deuce and Bernie.