Nearly 16 percent of NFL players drafted between 1996 and 2003 declared bankruptcy within 12 years of retirement, according to a new working paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Researchers from the California Institute of Technology, George Washington University and the University of Washington, discovered that initial bankruptcy filings began very soon after players retired from the league and continued at a substantial rate through the first dozen years of retirement.
"Moreover, bankruptcy rates are not affected by a player's total earnings or career length. Having played for a long time and been well-paid does not provide much protection against the risk of going bankrupt," researchers concluded. For example, Terrell Owens, a six-time pro bowler drafted in 1996, made an estimated $80 million during his 15-season NFL career and filed for bankruptcy in 2012.