Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Byron Bell, a self-proclaimed country boy from Texas, doesnt hesitate when friends of friends have asked him for a loan. The answer is always no.
But Bell has heard the question.
Its, No. Its not even, I wish I could, because they know I can, Bell said of people who have asked him for cash. Its not, Man let me talk to my financial adviser. They know at the end of the day I pull the trigger. The money comes out of my account.
Not even my friends but my friends friends that I dont even talk to. People from high school I didnt even know would hit me up all of a sudden.
It was just, Dude, no.
Bell, and plenty of other professional athletes, paid close attention to Tuesday nights ESPN 30-for-30 documentary, Broke, which chronicled how some athletes spend millions through bad investments, jewelry spending and myriad handouts.
Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Henderson watched the documentary, too. He said Wednesday that he learned from his father, former NBA player Gerald Henderson Sr., how to decline requests.
I have an advantage in terms of that not just basketball, but in finances, too, Henderson said. Ive made more money than he made his whole career, just because of the times. His biggest thing is saying, Sometimes youve just got to say, No.
The 90-minute documentary dealt with how professional athletes many of whom come from the lower end of the socio-economic scale are met with millions at a young age. Broke then dove into different cases of how some pros went bankrupt.
In one anecdote from the show, an athletes mother sending him a tie on his birthday along with a bill for $25,000, claiming that he owed his parent that much for raising him.
Bell, a second-year player undrafted out of college, had the opposite reaction from his mother when he tried to randomly give her $5,000.
She put it back in my account, Bell said. She was like, Byron I dont want your money. It was kind of funny. This was a person who raised me, put money back in my account. She said, If youre going to give me something, pay my light bill.
But Ive got people who say, Let me borrow $1,800 and Ill pay you back within months. And in my mind Im like if you aint got $1,800 now, what makes me think youre going to have it then?
Veteran wide receiver Steve Smith said rookies are advised on whom to trust with their money at rookie symposiums, but sometimes that doesnt get through to the young players.
The three-day event can wear on players, he said, and they can tune out some crucial information at times.
Its the same thing that happens to every single person who gets their tax return, Smith said. How many of us know what we get for our tax return and we go out and start making a list of things were going to spend it on? If you create those habits once the checks start coming in, then once you stop playing, theres no do-over. Thats where guys get pinched.
Defensive end Charles Johnson signed a $76 million contract last year, and he tweeted out Tuesday night while watching the documentary that he would continue eating lobster and steak any chance he got.
But Johnson didnt sleep through those seminars the NFL provided early in his career. He recalled a speaker, a pro baseball player with a $60 million contract, who went broke shortly after an injury ended his career.
The player said the petty items, like a nice watch, would eventually pile up. Johnson realized some of the items the baseball player had bought were the exact items Johnson had bought himself.
I was thinking, I dont want to be on that same track hes going down, Johnson said. It makes you want to do the right thing because I have a family. I support my mama and I support my family. I dont want to never have the day where I dont have no money.
Staff writers Rick Bonnell and Joseph Person contributed.