Dr. Tim Benson, right, speaking with former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann.
You don’t have to dig very deep to discover multiple financial horror stories involving players in the major American sports leagues. Former Boston Celtics star Antoine Walker went bankrupt after amassing $108 million over his career. A CBS Sports poll done in 2015 predicted that one in six NFL players will eventually go bankrupt.
The Seattle Seahawks are being proactive in their efforts to stop that from happening to their players. Team officials brought in Dr. Tim Benson, a clinical instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, to spend time with their 2016 rookie class and to help educate them on the pitfalls of their newfound success. His message wasn’t anything groundbreaking: He warned players about new monetary expectations from friends and family members they haven’t heard from for awhile, as well as the dangers of keeping “Yes Men” around. The Seahawks front office believes that hammering that message home at the ground level will have major benefits for the team’s youngest players.
Of all the quotes by Benson featured in the piece from ESPN, this one stood out: “Think about who your personal board of directors is,” he said. “You are now CEOs of your own organization, and you need to start thinking about that.”
It’s an interesting way to look at the company you keep as you move from college football to the NFL. You needn’t look any further than the pitiful plunge from grace of former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel to understand how the company you keep is a major factor in your professional health and wellbeing at the highest level of your sport.
Let’s hope Dr. Benson’s message resonates with the young Seahawks players.