Think this NFL Player Doesn’t Make a Good Financial Role Model? Don’t Bet On It

Living in Denver, and being a dedicated Bronco fan, I took note last week when I heard that 319-pound NFL lineman John Moffitt didn’t report to practice.  My first instinct was to wonder whether the move was a negotiating tactic for a better contract, as so often is the case. Or, even more cliché, perhaps he was sleeping off a bender from the preceding bye-week.

I wasn’t even close…

When Moffitt finally emerged, he told the Denver Post that he had been “soul searching” and had decided to retire—after a career spanning only 19 regular-season games. Even more shocking than the news of Moffitt’s retirement was his profound rationale behind walking away from a million-dollar contract and a very good shot at a Super Bowl ring.

“I just really thought about it and decided I’m not happy,” he said. “I’m not happy at all, and I think it’s really madness to risk your body, risk your well-being and risk your happiness for money.”

Moffitt went on to tell the AP:

“I’ve saved enough. It’s not like I’m sitting here and I’m a millionaire. That’s what I kind of realized. I’m sitting here and I got to this point and I was like, what is the number that you need? How much do you really need? What do you want in life? And I decided that I don’t really need to be a millionaire.”

Some may think that Moffitt is choosing a Zen-like lifestyle over the financial success in store for his fellow players. But, based on his statement that he has been saving up—and considering that historically 78% of NFL players go broke within 2 years of retiring—I’d wager that he has a better shot at financial security than most of his teammates.

If I were a Vegas casino calculating the odds of Moffitt’s financial success, I’d say they are even better than the odds of the Broncos going all the way to Super Bowl—and if you’ve seen the magic that is Peyton Manning lately, that says a lot!

I don’t speculate that Moffitt will succeed financially because he has learned the important lesson that the amount you earn is irrelevant to financial security. I speculate that he will succeed because he is obviously a man who can shake off what the enigmatic “everyone” thinks he should do, and instead go where his passions take him—a trait exemplified by the greats like Steve Jobs, who did the same thing when he dropped out of college.

And even if my hypothetical wager is wrong, at least Moffitt will be doing what makes him happy. Isn’t that the real moral of the story here anyway?