• Sports News
  • NFL
  • 5 NFL superstars that went broke
NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens

5 NFL superstars that went broke

NFL dreams are associated with monetary wishes, as well. Following a dominant high school career, followed by a stellar rein during their college years, reaching the crescendo of the NFL is what all young football players dream of.

In addition to catching passes on Sunday, scoring touchdowns at crucial moments, and registering defensive stops when a game is in the balance, the financial rewards are usually life-changing.


Yet, regardless of the endless piles of cash usually hurled in their faces, several players are unaware of what to do with their newfound fortune. On average, NFL players earn up to one million annually. For the cream of the crop, however, that number often is multiplied 100 times over.

Nonetheless, due to poor money management and putrid financial advice, countless players hit rock bottom once their time in the league ends. With that said, who are some of the more notable players who could not hold on to their fortune and ultimately went from rags to riches back to rags? Let's find out.

#5 Vince Young

Tennessee Titans 2010 Headshots

Vince Young was a can't-miss prospect coming out of college during the mid-2000s. Known for their franchise-altering talents, Texas seemingly churned out another one in Young.


Before the recent boom of NFL quarterbacks who can both pass and run, Young was a rare breed. During his final year in college, Young led Texas to an undefeated record through 13 games. In the process, his stats were ridiculous. The former Heisman Trophy runner-up threw for 3,036 yards, 26 touchdowns and completed 65.2% of his passes.

Although his arm was impressive, Young destroyed the competition with his legs, rushing for over a thousand yards in 2005.

Taken third overall in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans, Young's career was transient. Still, in his short six years, he was named to two Pro Bowls and earned more than $35 million.

Young's financial woes began the moment he came into the league. With humongous piles of cash being thrown in his direction, he was taken advantage of by family members and old friends. He was also given horrific financial advice. At one point, Young recklessly purchased every seat on an airplane to fly alone. Decisions such as those, coupled with countless others, left Young in debt to the tune of about $10 million.


#4 Chris McAlister

Chris McAlister headshot 2008 (Getty Images)

Chris McAlister's career was incredibly underrated. For roughly a decade, the former defensive back hounded wide receivers, pulled opposing quarterbacks to the turf, and stuffed the run at opportune times.

McAlister's efforts wouldn't go unseen as he signed lucrative contracts and was recognized as one of the best defenders in the game. He made three Pro Bowl teams. With two Super Bowl rings snuggled onto his fingers, McAlister walked away from the game in 2009 after making approximately $58.4 million.

Although the former first-rounder was only 32 years of age, he appeared content with his retirement decision. Nevertheless, just three years after hanging up his cleats, McAlister's financial woes began.


While the reasons are unclear, McAlister was forced to move back in with his parents. In addition to swallowing his pride and returning home, McAlister admitted that he lost everything financially and depended heavily on his parents to provide him with monetary relief.

#3 Johnny Unitas

Buccaneers v Ravens

The NFL wasn't quite the booming multi-billion dollar business that it is today nearly a century ago.

Oftentimes, even the game's biggest stars were forced to work second jobs to make ends meet. Johnny Unitas, once in the discussion as the greatest quarterback of all time, was never given the sort of life-changing money that his talents would seemingly afford him.

In 1956, his first NFL season, Unitas made a hair over $7,000. Although he didn't quite cash in on his abilities, Unitas believed he would do so after he hung up his cleats.

Desperate to find a way to monetize his valuable name, Unitas attempted to partake in the business world. Regardless of his investments in bowling alleys, restaurants, and real estate, every business Unitas attached himself to was unsuccessful, forcing him to file for bankruptcy in 1991.


#2 Mark Brunell

Wild Card Playoffs - New York Jets v Indianapolis Colts

Mark Brunell's talents weren't quite NFL Hall of Fame level, however, the former fifth-round pick squeezed every ounce of talent out of his middling body.

Lauded for his willingness to play through minor aches and pains, as well as more severe injuries, Brunell, for a transient period of time, was considered one of the best signal-callers in the entire NFL. During a four-year stretch, from 1996 to 1999, Brunell was named to three Pro Bowl teams. With a Super Bowl ring and over 32,000 passing yards plastered to his resume, Brunell earned approximately $50 million.

Yet, regardless of the large sums of money that were deposited into his bank account, Brunell's fortune dissipated quickly. Throughout his time in the league, Brunell bought extravagant houses and lavish cars, leading to poor money management. Unlike several former NFL players who were down on their luck, Brunell refused to sit idly by. The former Super Bowl winning QB nabbed a medical sales job. He wasn't paid much, roughly $60,000 annually, but he did his best, albeit unsuccessfully, to regain his riches.

#1 Terrell Owens

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills

On a nightly basis, Terrell Owens left NFL crowds mesmerized. He met physical receivers with brute strength at the line of scrimmage before running across the field to snag a ball thrown his way. In other instances, Owens raced up the field with two defenders draped on him before jumping high into the air to make a successful grab.

Owens, simply put, is considered one of the greatest wide receivers of all time and was paid handsomely. With roughly $80 million earned throughout his one-of-a-kind career, Owens wasted no time spending his hard-earned cash.

The nFL Hall of Fame receiver bought countless cars and was addicted to expensive homes. He was also incredibly kind, a character trait that was eventually taken advantage of. Owens entrusted his financial portfolio to shady individuals which led to his eventual ruin.

Presently, after years of getting himself back on track, Owens has a current net worth of approximately $500,000.

Edited by
Windy Goodloe
See more
More from Sportskeeda