2015 NFL Draft: Surviving the Family Moochers Playbook

phillip buchanon surviving family moochers for nfl draft 2015

A recent book by former NFLer Phillip Buchanon outlined the problem faced by many pro athletes; that being relatives with their hands out. These moochers are a bigger concern for many players than learning the playbook. Some family members feel like they are owed some cash simply because of the random fact that they share the same family tree with a guy who has made it to the NFL. These leeches are some of the worst folks imaginable, and many times have, at best, loose ties to said player. Buchanon recounted how his “dear mother” wanted him to pay her one million dollars as soon as he was drafted back in 2002. She felt she was owed it for raising him!

You can check out the book here as it’s certainly a must for anyone knowing they’re about to come into money whether you’re a pro baller or not. Family will always say you have to take of your family when you’re the one with all the money, but when you are needing, many times, they aren’t as good at giving as they are at taking.

Below are a few very interesting excerpts from Buchanon’s book, New Money: Staying Rich (via FoxSports.com)

Soon after the draft, she told me that I owed her a million dollars for raising me for the past 18 years. Well, that was news to me. If my mother taught me anything, it’s that this is the most desperate demand that a parent can make on a child. The covenant of having a child is simply that you give your child everything possible, and they owe you nothing beyond a normal amount of love and respect. There is no financial arrangement. If you get old and infirm, and your kids are around to help you out at that point, then you’re lucky. It’s not written in the social contract. The mothers and fathers of the world have been rearing their kids for generations — in every culture imaginable — and it’s a one-way street when it comes to money. If they pay you back someday, and you really are going through hard times, then that’s just a bonus, a gratuity for being a great mother or father.

According to Buchanon, his mom had joked about the $1 million payment before, but she never sounded serious about it until after the Raiders drafted him out of the University of Miami.

My mother had said my debt to her was a million dollars before, but this time she was more serious than ever. If you do the math, one million dollars divided by 18 years of raising me was approximately $55,555.55 a year in restitution. Except, at age 17 I decided to move out of my mom’s house, choosing to live with a close friend and his father because I no longer felt secure in my own home. Why, you ask? Because my mother let people come in and out of our house and take what they wanted. So technically, even if we went by her logic, I only owed her $944,444.44 for her services over 17 years.

Is it petty that I’m knocking a year off her calculation? The fact that I have written this paragraph enrages me, merely because I’m entertaining the thought that her argument had any logic at all.

In the end, Buchanon didn’t give his mom the million dollars, but he did end up buying her a house. However, that turned into a quite the big mess.

When I told my mother she would have to take care of the maintenance after I paid off the mortgage on her house, she told me she would not be able to afford the upkeep on a house that big. In fact, she made it seem like it was my fault for picking out a house that big. In part, she was right. I bought her a house with my luxury taste and no real wisdom behind it. It was an uneducated purchase.

After realizing a big house probably wasn’t a good idea, Buchanon offered to buy his mom a smaller house. Only this time, Buchanon gave his mom a choice: I’ll buy you a house or give you $15,000 in cash.

I offered to buy her a comfortable house in my name for her to live in. This way she wouldn’t have to take out any loans or put my little sister and brothers in a situation where the roof over their heads could be taken away. She’d move out of the house that was too big for her and into this new one. Instead, she opted for $15,000 cash. She told me that if the new house didn’t have space for two living room sets, she didn’t want it.

While I certainly respect what mothers do for us kids, I don’t think demanding a cool million even before the ink dried on a rookie deal is too classy to say the least. Buchanon told of many other relatives wanting money for various things, but never being satisfied and always coming back for more. Pro athletes with very little experience handling money have a hard enough time holding onto their money long term. They are good at wasting money on fancy cars and houses that many can’t afford once their short pro careers end. Mix in greedy family members with even less concern for blowing money that they didn’t earn, and it’s no wonder that so many NFLers end up with no money at all a few years after their playing days are over.

With the NFL draft just about two weeks away, there will be a whole new crop of players getting serious money. These guys, especially high profile first rounders, will have more money than they have ever had with the signing of their names. They need to know how to handle that money and that means getting some knowledge about how to fend off family and friends who put their hand out early and often. The NFL gives classes on how to handle money, but I feel like I can help as well. I hate to see young millionaires blow their money or have it blown for them by aunt Weezy or cousin Bernie. So here are ten things the 2015 NFL draftees need to watch for when they get a phone call or text from family and friends once they get that first big check.

phillip buchanon book on keeping money from family moochers 2015
  1. Seek out a trustworthy financial advisor. That doesn’t mean just any guy with a sign on his office saying he is a financial guru. Most people are terrible with money, not just NFL ballers. Without some direction, who could be able to do a good job with a million dollar deal, having never even seen $1000 at one time?
  2. Learn the word “no.” Powerful it is! Some hard headed relatives may need to hear it more than once. Use it often. If you say yes to any and all requests, you might as well go to work at a tire shop. That way no one will hound you for money and at the end of your working career you will have about the same left over in savings.
  3. People related to you do not get a free pass for never going to work. Unless they have some kind of disability that prevented them from working, it was a choice to not generate some income. You can’t be their savior. No amount would be enough to satisfy someone who knows not the value of a dollar. They would see $50,000 as a drop in the bucket to a pro athlete and would hound you forever once they saw you were willing to “pitch in.”
  4. If your uncle Fred has ran a garage for 40 years then he is probably not a bad guy to loan a few bucks to for his biz. Now if he is talking a $500K expansion a building that is worth maybe $50K, that is a no-no. Know the limits of your people. And if you do decide to loan folks money, only do so if you are willing to accept that it will never be paid back. Even the most well intentioned people sometimes fail to pay loans back.
  5. A shady ex-girlfriend who was shady when you were poor is not going to improve once you get a check with six or seven digits. Hooking up with her right before the draft in a drunken haze may be a good way to start child support payments to this loon nine months later. You’ll have plenty of chances with groupies to make this big mistake. A vasectomy may be the best investment a pro football player can make. There is no joke in that statement at all.
  6. If you have a friend or uncle that has been in jail twelve times since you have been alive, it’s a good bet they like the accommodations and will be visiting again soon. Any money given to them will never be used properly and you would be better off to simply set that cash on fire. It would do less harm that way.
  7. If you can’t stop yourself from helping out a family member in need of a better car or fixing up their heating and AC unit that is OK. You just can’t do it endlessly and better yet you need to take control of the billing and pay the company directly. If they are offended by this then they are welcome to use their own money. Once they asked for your help, then you have a direct say in how the money is used or distributed.
  8. Shady family members may not ask for a handout at all. They may just want you to invest in some “great real estate.” Many a pro athlete has bought into a no lose investment only to lose every dollar they put into the hairbrain scheme. The money you will make in the League will not last forever. Players like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are the outliers with careers longer than most presidents. Many NFLers are lucky to get five years worth of game checks.
  9. Once you hear the phrase, “you forgot where you come from”, you know a friend or cousin is trying to guilt you into handing them them cash for some doomed small business they have in mind. As an NFL player, you need to forget where you came from partially. If not, you will end up right back there as a has-been. It’s cool to give back to your hometown in some ways, but you are not Bill Gates. You may be making more money than anyone in your little hometown, but that doesn’t mean you need to fund “Lenny’s Car Wash” which is being run by a buddy that has never worked a real job in his life.
  10. If your mom or dad says you owe them for anything they did for you as a kid, ie. raising you, they actually have a point. The fact they they provided for you, if that is truly the case, means that they helped you get to where you are. If without them, you would never had made it to the NFL, then handing them some cash is not unreasonable. However, if they have to use this point about raising you, then they are probably not the best people ever. So treat it like a negotiation. Don’t be an ATM or do something stupid like give them half your signing bonus. Buy them a reasonable house, paid for in cash so if they screw up and take a loan on it leading to them losing the place, then that is on them. If you never put a limit on your parents, and they are the mooching type, they will break you.