Oct 2, 2012

You Only Need One Of Anything

Just watched the ESPN 30 for 30 movie “Broke”.  Stunning!
(If it becomes available online, I’ll post the link here.)

Through pro athletes telling their personal tragedies, “Broke” presents a painfully real montage of squandered wealth and opportunity.  The movie-maker acknowledges the problem – in most cases, athletes come from poor homes and communities, become extravagantly wealthy with their signing bonus, and have no clue about dealing with wealth.

Billions of dollars that could have gone to trust funds for children, charitable foundations, investments in sound business opportunities, and decades of comfortable “retirement” living has instead rained on strippers, settled paternity suits, disappeared in dubious investment schemes, and myriad other forms of dissipation.

At NFL Rookie Orientation, Herm Edwards admonishes the young nouveau riche, “You only need one of anything.”  One home, one car, one gold chain, “not a Mr. T starter set”, and presumably, only one baby mama.

The barrage of failure anecdotes in “Broke” was withering.  I was truly sad that none of the athletes had someone who could speak financial wisdom into their lives.  From Bernie Kosar who suffered an alcoholic father to numerous athletes from the ghetto who may have never known their fathers, there was a consistent backstory to “Broke” – most of these athletes grew up without learning to trust a father (or father-figure) who could help them understand the world.

Then, the most remarkable thing happened.  At sixty-eight minutes into the live airing of the movie, a Buick commercial comes on.  Maybe you’ve seen it.

Here’s the irony that nearly knocked me over, “Broke” was sponsored by a commercial featuring a pitchman who is famously successful in the financial world as well as the football world – Peyton Manning.  And in the commercial, Peyton is driving his beautiful Buick over to a cookout at his dad’s house – former pro QB, Archie Manning.

My high-placed sources at Google tell me that Peyton has a current net worth of $115million and is playing under a $98m contract.  Little brother Eli is probably just driving a Chevy considering his paltry $60m net worth and $97m contract.  Are the Manning boys having to pay Mom & Dad’s rent?  Probably not.  Although only earning $600,000 in 1981, his last year in the league, thirty years later, Archie’s net worth is reportedly $10m*.

I don’t know anything about Manning home life, but I doubt it was at all like what Bernie Kosar reports – a father who lashed him a belt if Bernie was slow fetching dad’s next beer.  Senior Kosar later bilked his son out of millions of Bernie’s money.

So, what’s the big point here?  There will always be someone who’s more than capable of separating a fool and his money.  My question – for all my readers, all you dads – are you doing what is necessary to raise financially wise adults?  And children, are you listening?

ESPN is going to run “Broke” several more times in the coming week.  I hope you dads will watch it with your kids – 10 years and up, for sure.  And then, get serious about raising future Reggie Wilkes**, not KeithMcCants***.  Let me know if I can help.

By the way, did you hear about the former pro quarterback who was paid $100m just to borrow his name for a few years?  It’s all true.

Clark H Smith

*All things being equal, if the Manning boys do at least as well as dad after football, each will have estates worth over a half a billion dollars when they’re Pop’s age.

** During his football career, Wilkes began working at Merrill Lynch. After about 10 years at Merrill, he left to found his own company, ProCap LLC. He rejoined Merrill in 2007, about three years after selling ProCap.  Wilkes net worth in 2011 - $200m.

*** "I wish I had never had any money," McCants said during an interview at the Pinellas County jail, where he has been held since April 23 on a fugitive warrant from Mobile. "I would've been great without money. It's a sad story, but it's a true story. Money destroyed everything around me and everything I care for, my family, my so-called friends. I just want enough to live on. I never want to be rich again."