One in every 6 NFL players will declare bankruptcy within 12 years of retirement

warren sapp
Warren Sapp is just one of many players that had to declare bankruptcy after retiring.

We have heard it many times before that the NFL, is hard to keep a job in and many of the veteran players in the league end up bankrupt.  Well according to a new study, 1 in every 6 players of NFL players will declare for bankruptcy within 12 years of retirement. 

According to a new research paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, about 1 in 6 (15.7 percent) NFL players will declare for bankruptcy within 12 years of retirement.

Researchers collected data on around 2,000 NFL players drafted from 1996-2003, and looked at earnings data and court records. Players weren’t more or less likely to file for bankruptcy based on career length or total earnings. No matter what they made or for how long they played for, within two years of retirement, filings gradually increased, “likely due to a combination of players rapidly drawing down limited savings and having leveraged investments.” 

“Players with median-length careers earn about $3.2 million in a few years. If they are forward-looking and patient, they should save a large fraction of their income to provide for when they retire from the NFL,” wrote the paper’s authors, Kyle Carlson, Joshua Kim, Annamaria Lusardi and Colin F. Camerer. 


Damond Talbot

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at

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