NFL players are known for their speed, strength, agility—and likelihood of going broke after leaving the league. Punter Jeff Locke not only defies that last stereotype, but is actively striving to reverse the troubling trend.
We talked to the free agent, who was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2013 and most recently played for the Detroit Lions, about why so many players are at risk, his unconventional approach to help change that—and the money rules he lives by.
What’s the biggest financial challenge you’ve faced as a football player?
Most people don’t realize that teams only pay you during the season. Depending on the team, they’ll give you a check every week or every other week between September and December. You have to make four months of pay last 12 months.
In college, you’re living stipend check to stipend check if you’re on scholarship—and then all of a sudden, after your first or second NFL game, you get one check that equals two years of stipend checks. The urge is to spend it on everything you wanted.
I was lucky to get advice from my parents and their financial advisor. They told me I should only spend $X per month in season to budget for the other eight months.
In 2015, you did a five-week internship at an investment firm . What inspired your interest in finance?
I was an economics major at UCLA, so I’ve always been interested in money. I wanted real-life job experience in between seasons because I knew the average NFL lifespan is 3.5 years. I took that stat seriously.