Across the board, NFL players get the short end of the stick when it comes to being paid for their unreal athletic ability and performances. Their contracts are largely unguaranteed, their career windows are short — probably because playing in a football game, even at levels below the National Football League, is comparable to a car accident — and their endorsement opportunities are generally slim.
In fact, aside from the handful of guys who get corralled by reporters after the game and those that are just flat-out massive human beings, there’s a good chance that when most NFL players take off their pads, helmet, and jersey and slip out into the night, they will go unnoticed.
But some of them are able to bankroll their fame and (relative) fortune into more fortune, and sometimes even more fame. From licensing deals to owning franchises to eventually owning an NFL team, à la the late Al Davis, the money’s out there if the player is savvy enough to seek it. Here are seven of the savviest NFL players, both past and present — the guys who have been able to take their athletic acumen and turn it into continued financial success.
7. Brett Favre: $100 Millon
“Hi, I’m Brett Favre, former NFL Quarterback. You’ve probably seen me in advertisements endorsing Wrangler Jeans, Nike everything, and Sears, to name most of the things I endorse. Perhaps you may have seen me with the Green Bay Packers, or perhaps you saw my numerous flirtations with retirement before finally signing off from the game in 2011.”
Favre, the first player in the NFL to sign a $100 million dollar contract — rather, it was a “lifetime” contract extension signed with the Green Bay Packers in 2001 — was the only player to win the NFL regular season MVP award three times in a row. At the time of his retirement, he held league records for passing touchdowns, passing yards, attempts, interceptions, and all time wins. (However, Peyton Manning has since passed him in passing touchdowns and passing yards, and tied him in all time wins.)
Following his 16 seasons in Green Bay, Favre ultimately went on to play for the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings, and almost the St. Louis Rams, according to both parties, in 2013. At least Favre seems at ease with his retirement now, and can even joke about it when his still-sponsor Nike needs to film a new commercial.