It doesn't appear as if any of the potential picks in this week's NFL draft bothered to watch the ESPN original movie "Broke," which details the lives of countless ex-professional athletes—almost all of them recognizable by any sports fan—who went from filthy rich to dirt poor seemingly overnight.
Teddy Bridgewater, the former Louisville quarterback expected to be the third or fourth player selected at the game's most important position, was the inspiration for a Spike Lee-directed video that told the tale of a young man escaping a rough upbringing in Miami and making it all the way to the National Football League. Fulfilling a childhood dream, the 6'2", 214-pounder bought his mother, Rose Murphy, a pink Cadillac Escalade after first saying he would do so at the age of nine.
Not only did Murphy raise Bridgewater all by herself, but she is also a breast cancer survivor, hence the significance of pink.
On the surface, it's a heart-warming story and paints the picture of Bridgewater as an appreciative son who knows he never would have gotten to where he is today—on the precipice of going to an NFL team—without the unconditional love of a devoted single mom. The video, which ran Tuesday on Good Morning America and featured fellow breast cancer survivor Robin Roberts, brought tears to the eyes of most everyone watching.
What Lee failed to put on tape is that a 2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV retails for anywhere between $71,695 and $92,840, and the custom model (pink paint job, pink rims, etc.) chosen by Bridgewater likely cost him six figures.
Keep in mind that Bridgewater is yet to hear his name called at Radio City Music Hall and won't even sign his first contract for another month or two, meaning his agent probably made arrangements to loan him some money before the draft. While it's safe to say that the former Cardinals signal-caller is indeed on his way to financial gain once he finally puts pen to paper, we're not talking about Peyton Manning money here.
Considering the fact that Bridgewater's stock has been slipping in the eyes of most draftniks following a subpar performance March 17 at his pro day, he's expected to be taken after the likes of Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and maybe Derek Carr—somewhere near the top of Round 2 seems reasonable.
In the 2013 draft, the first QB chosen in the second round was Geno Smith at No. 39 by the New York Jets, and he went on to have a shaky rookie year: 66.5 passer rating, 12-to-21 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The one-time West Virginia Mountaineer signed a four-year deal before the season worth $5 million, including a $2 million signing bonus and $3 million altogether in guaranteed money.
Assuming Bridgewater is offered a similar contract, that $3 million could be every penny he makes as a professional football player, yet he's already spent 100K on a car he won’t be driving.
Four years ago, another promising young passer, Jimmy Clausen, had the look of a top-10 talent—the same can be said for both Smith and Bridgewater—but ended up tumbling down the draft board to 48th in the second round to the Carolina Panthers. He was atrocious as a rookie, watched the front office select Cam Newton at No. 1 the next year and now hasn't thrown a regular-season pass in three seasons.
After falling through the waiver process unclaimed and spending 2013 on injured reserve, Clausen's NFL career might be over already.
Here is the film summary for "Broke," courtesy of ESPN.com:
According to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, 60 percent of former NBA players are broke within five years of retirement. By the time they have been retired for two years, 78 percent of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress. Sucked into bad investments, stalked by freeloaders, saddled with medical problems and naturally prone to showing off, many pro athletes get shocked by harsh economic realities after years of living the high life. Drawing surprisingly vulnerable confessions from retired stars like Keith McCants, Bernie Kosar and Andre Rison, as well as Marvin Miller, the former executive director of the MLB Players Association, this fascinating documentary digs into the psychology of men whose competitive nature can carry them to victory on the field and ruin off it.
McCants was drafted No. 4 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and signed a five-year, $7.4 million contract with a then-record $2.5 million signing bonus—and those were 1990 dollars. Adjusted for inflation, that's a $13.2 million deal, or about two and a half times what Bridgewater can plan to get.
Kosar managed to stay in the league 12 seasons and made the Pro Bowl in 1987, with career earnings from football estimated to be in the neighborhood of $19 million. If you use his last year in the pros (1996) as the baseline, then that's the equivalent of $28.2 million today.
Rison also played 12 years, making five Pro Bowls—including four straight with the Atlanta Falcons from 1990-93—and one All-Pro team, plus he caught a 54-yard TD pass for the victorious Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI. He earned an estimated $20 million in salary and endorsements, which is closer to $27 million in 2014.
Today? McCants, Kosar and Rison have one thing in common, aside from being former millionaires. They're all broke.
Hopefully Bridgewater develops into a star and soon commands a Manning-like $20 million per year once his rookie contract expires. But if his career turns out to more closely resemble Clausen's, buying that Escalade—humble gesture or not—will look awfully frivolous, not beautifully generous.
My guess is Murphy is more proud of her son realizing his dream to play in the NFL, not his dream to buy her a pink Cadillac.
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