For the Culture: The Black Woman Putting NFL Players on Game Post-Career

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By Denise Garcia

  • The median NFL career is 6 years
  • 70% of NFL players are black

Ever heard that 78% of NFL players go broke two years into retirement? The widely-cited Sports Illustrated report pointed that joblessness and divorce led to financial distress or bankruptcy two years into retirement. Whether an NFL player has a long or short career span, high or lower-end earnings, a 2015 study by the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) at The George Washington University, states that neither of these factors “provide much protection against the risk of going bankrupt.” Rashida Gayle, 27, an Atlanta-based director of talent at GSE Worldwide, is burning the midnight oil to put the fate of NFL athletes in their own hands.

Photo: Haason Reddick, Devonta Freeman & Desmond Trufant
Photo: Haason Reddick, Devonta Freeman & Desmond Trufant

Why This Matters: The actual stats about what percentage of football retirees file for bankruptcy seems to be debatable. For instance, the GFLEC  study noted its results were notably different from the Sports Illustrated report, and claimed only 2% of players go bankrupt within two years. However, that number shoots up to about 16% after 12 years of retirement. Nonetheless, even an isolated incident begs the question: how can one make millions of dollars and mismanage it into depletion?

“A lot of athletes are young and you can’t expect them to know everything at such a young age, but the pressure is on their shoulders to make the right decisions, and that starts with having an educated and trustworthy team around [them],” Gayle told CultureBanx.

The GFLEC sites misplaced optimism of career length, poor financial choices, and social spending pressures could impact an NFL player’s savings or lack thereof. For Gayle, teaching athletes to save their contract income and live off marketing dollars, such as endorsement deals, appearances, and equity opportunities, is the way to lifelong wealth.

“It’s the responsibility of someone of influence in an athletes life to educate and advise them based on their experience and what they’ve seen in the industry. It’s within my duty, as a sports marketer, to recommend other solutions.”

Navigating The Sports Marketer Industry

Photo: Keenen Johnson, Rashida Gayle, Devonta Freeman (client)
Photo: Keenen Johnson, Rashida Gayle, Devonta Freeman (client)

Still, navigating a male dominated industry, as a black woman, doesn’t come without its hurdles, as it is very male-dominated. Gayle noted “It’s difficult for a woman to move around in this industry. No woman represents the top 10 agents in the NFL, NBA, or MLB… We have been provided opportunities to break ground and establish a presence in the industry, but it is extremely difficult to maintain a strong talent roster in such a male-heavy space.”

With all of that said, the Jamaican-born sports marketer’s roster includes Atlanta Falcons’ Devonta Freeman and Desmond Trufant, along with the Arizona Cardinals’ Haason Reddick, as well.

Advising A New Generation

It’s risky having all of your eggs in one basket: if you lose your agent, you just lost your marketing person. Why not diversify your interests?”

For fellow young women who’d like to break into the industry, Gayle encourages that they keep their reputation clean, stay honest, and seek out mentorship. “Being young and hungry and motivated to make it gives you room to continuously go after your goal, even after you have failed.”

Gayle doesn’t represent clients in conjunction with a sports agent, but has a few words for athletes. “I don’t know a lot of people in my position because most guys don’t separate their marketing. It’s risky having all of your eggs in one basket: if you lose your agent, you just lost your marketing person. Why not diversify your interests?”

CBx Vibe:Almeda” Solange


Denise Garcia

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