Planning for life after football

Jason Jones has no intentions of becoming a statistic, or the next Warren Sapp. The newly-minted Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman is earnestly preparing for life after football even though he's only 25 years old and signed to a one-year contract worth up to $5 million. Jones took part in Priority Sports and Entertainment's second P.L.A.N. program: Preparing for Life After Football Now.

"The biggest fear is being broke at the end of your career," Jones said in a telephone interview. "You see guys like Warren Sapp declare bankruptcy and T.O. having financial issues, and it has an impact on you. The money you make now won't last forever and you'll never get a paycheck like this again when you're older. It gives you ideas and makes you think about what you're going to do when football is over for you."

Jones and several other athletes attended a multi-faceted program in Chicago last week where they met with NFL Players Association officials, television reporters like ESPN's Adam Schefter, financial experts, lawyers, life coaches, counselors, nutritionists and even an attorney who specializes in high-profile divorces.

"It went awesome," said Deryk Gilmore, an agent at Priority Sports who attended the program along with colleagues Mike McCartney, Rick Smith and J.I. Halsell. "The program was geared to help players in all facets of day-to-day life and when your career is over. We talk to them about how to get jobs and internships while they're playing and after they finish playing, how to manage finances, what programs they can take advantage of with the NFL and NFLPA, partnerships with universitities and business proposals.

"We brought in a nutritionist that was phenomenal. We brought in an attorney who repped Michael Jordan We had Adam Schefter talk about broadcasting. The program hit on every single area. It was a great program. The athletes loved it. It was very productive."

Among the players who attended the program besides Jones: Arizona Cardinals tight end Jeff King, New York Jets offensive guard Brandon Moore, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Brad Smith and Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz.

According to a Sports Illustrated article three years ago, 78 percent of former NFL players are either bankrupt or under serious financial stress two years into retirement due to being unemployed, divorced or having made poor decisions during their playing careers about managing their money.

According to the NFL Players Association, the players' union, at least 78 players lost a total of more than $42 million between 1999 nad 2002 because of placing their trust in financial advisors with questionable backgrounds.

The estimate of the divorce rate for pro athletes ranges from 60 percent to 80 percent.

"The program went great," Jones said. "It was a lot of information. The guys at Priority like Deryk are really interested in the players' well-being after football. They put this program together under their agency. I'm getting into the real estate business and they brought in real estate people to talk to us.

"I got some great information. I met some great people. I can lean on these people. They brought out the best people they could find in different fields. I got a lot of information to look over and I will be contacting these people. I appreciate everything. It was a good program and I will recommend it to other players."

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