Despite an 11-year career including Pro Bowl and Super Bowl appearances, former Chicago Bears defensive end Edwale Ogunle said one of his biggest accomplishments of his time in the league was to learn the value of the dollar.
Despite being billed as a first- or second-round selection after a solid college career, Ogunle entered the NFL as an incomplete free agent due to injuries sustained during his senior season.
That meant he hadn’t received as much pay as the one selected in that year’s first draft. His rookie salary of $ 200,000 was less than the $ 6 million earned by No.1 pick Drew Bledsoe. But Ogunle says that somehow his financial situation was a godsend.
“I knew I couldn’t live on $ 200,000 for the rest of my life [if I got hurt]He told CNBC Make It of his rookie salary. “So I got associated with the mindset that I have to keep working and if that doesn’t work I have to find another job. “
Although he ultimately secured a $ 33 million contract with the Chicago Bears in 2006 and ended his career with a net worth of around $ 36 million, Ogunley says the need to negotiate a major contract with the NFL rather than getting one up front has helped them avoid discomfort. situations. About asking people in your life for money.
“I think that’s where I have a little [over the drafted players] “I didn’t have the money,” says Ogunley, who grew up at Park Hill Projects in Staten Island. There is no money like that.
Over the years, he has enjoyed the pitfalls that come with being a well-paid athlete. But by the end of his career, Ogunle’s material appetite had changed.
“My first year in the league is 21, 22 years old. I walk into the locker room and see Lamborghinis and Ferraris and I’m like ‘Wow, that’s it!’ He said. “At the age of 10, I don’t care. All I need is a car to drive me from point A to point B.
He says as he got older he began to understand how short an athlete’s career is in the context of his life.
“As you get older and mature and these things start to creep in, they also find out how you manage your money,” he says. “At the end of the day, that’s a short period of time you have. Tom Brady played 20 years in the NFL, but he still has to find something to do with his time and energy. He’s still a young man. man.”
Now 44, Ogunleye heads the athlete and artist segment at UBS, a global financial services company. He talks to young men and women who in many cases come up with huge sums of money about how they can focus on the pitfalls and mistakes they see in their doomed teammates in the NFL.
“I made mistakes, and by the grace of God my mistakes weren’t horrible,” he says. “I didn’t know anything about finance. The fact that I didn’t lose everything was lucky.
Register now: Be better informed about your money and your career with our weekly newsletter
Don’t miss: NFL star Alvin Kamara has a $ 75 million contract, but he hasn’t spent a dime of his football winnings