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NFL Players Need More Help With Retirement Planning

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You might think that NFL players have it easy when it comes to retirement.

That might be true for Marshawn Lynch, who took care of his "chicken." But it's not the case for most players.

Indeed, a new report suggests that football players face numerous problems transitioning out of the NFL. According to the report, NFL or ‘Not for Long’? Transitioning out of the NFL', much of the difficulty has to do with 1) identity foreclosure -- the fact that professional athletes have focused likely since childhood on one occupational choice to the exclusion of other interests and 2) the work environment -- training camps, travel, and the like.

To be sure, the NFL and NFLPA do provide considerable resources and support, Christopher Deubert, one of the co-authors of the report, said in an interview. But players are not able to or do not always take advantage of these resources.

Thankfully, players are at least getting support from family, friends, and especially wives. But there’s more the NFL and NFLPA can do to help those for whom “the game always leaves the player before the player is ready to leave it.”

What can be done? According to Deubert and his co-authors, “NFL and NFLPA programs should be designed so that they are readily accessible: they should be affordable for those players with limited disposable income and not require extensive travel.”

And, with a hat tip to behavioral finance expert Richard Thaler, Deubert and his co-authors say player participation in programs and benefits should be facilitated by automatically enrolling players in programs where appropriate. Speaking of automatic enrollment, the report did note that NFL players have an “unbelievable” 401(k). The NFL matches $2 for every $1 the player contributes, according to Deubert.

Deubert and his co-authors recommend that players should be encouraged by the NFL, NFLPA, and contract advisors to work exclusively with NFLPA-registered advisers and that the NFLPA should strengthen its financial adviser regulations.

What’s more, players should be given information to ensure that they choose financial advisers based on their professional qualifications and experience and not the financial benefits the financial adviser has or is willing to provide to the player.

To know more on this, listen to the podcast with Christopher Deubert.

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