Antoine Bethea Of The San Francisco 49ers: A Veteran’s Perspective On Financial Pressures In The NFL

The following post originally appeared on Forbes | July 30, 2014

Antoine Bethea: Entering his ninth season in the NFL, the 5’ 11″, 206-pound safety has recorded 95+ tackles each year since 2008, is a two-time Pro Bowl strong safety, and a former Super Bowl Champion (while playing with the Indianapolis Colts). Oh, did I mention that he hasn’t missed a start in over 6 years? Lastly, and perhaps most relevant to this piece, he just signed a 4-year, $21.5M contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

Bethea is a battle-tested warhorse, and the quintessential NFL veteran. In fact, he just turned a ripe 30 years of age on the 27th of July—happy belated—A milestone that relatively few players reach before retirement. There is an easiness about him that anyone who has been around the block once or twice knows can’t be purchased or short-tracked—only time, experience, and overcoming trials and tribulations can bring it about. “Battle-hardened confidence,” as Adam Bryant of the New York Times might say.

From the couch we see the players with their fame and money. And often, the challenges that come along with their high profile positions are either imperceptible, or worse, noted but simply dismissed because they elude the everyman’s comprehension. Challenges? How challenging can it be to deal with fame, fans, and money? Well, as it turns out, very…. With 8 in 10 players being bankrupt or in financial distress within 2 years of retirement, this isn’t an opinion, it is a statistical fact.

Bethea was one of a select group of players that attended an NFL player’s retreat in Vegas early this month, hosted by Adisa Bakari of Kelley Drye & Warren. With the theme being financial education, the players were there to better prepare for, and adjust to, the hurdles of sudden wealth management. Speakers included the likes of Ben Moss (The Managing Director of One Sotheby’s Sports & Entertainment Division), and fellow Forbes contributor Robert Pagliarini (Sudden wealth expert, and president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors).  I was able to pull Bethea away from the seminars for a few minutes to chat about his experience with the NFL, multi-million dollar contracts, and the pressures that accompany them. See our exchange in the video below: