Just as quickly as NFL stars can make millions of dollars on one or two contracts, they can lose it all. It doesn't take much to fall from grace. It could be caused by anything from marital issues to legal issues to investment issues. No matter what the cause, bad luck has broken some of the sports brightest stars. From Michael Vick's big problem to Mark Brunell's investment failures, these are the stars who had everything, and nearly lost it all.
Muhsin Muhammad Had A Spending Problem
A standout wide receiver in the NFL with the Panthers and Bears, Muhsin Muhammad made the Pro Bowl twice and led the league in receiving yards in 2004. With so much success in his life, Muhammad didn't hesitate to hand over his Visa card when he wanted to make big purchases.
The only problem with paying for everything on credit came when it was time to pay it all back. Muhammad couldn't quite settle his hefty debt, leading Wachovia Bank to sue him. To pay them back, he was forced to sell his home.
Bernie Kosar Went From $19 Million In The Bank To $44
Bernie Kosar is remembered fondly by Cleveland Browns fans as one of the best to ever play for the team. By the time he retired in 1993, he had earned an estimated $19 million in his career.
In 2009, it was reported Kosar only had $44 in his bank account. So, what happened? Not only did Kosar have a greedy agent, but he also had an costly divorce settlement and expensive loans to pay off. Since that low year, Kosar has bounced back a bit and is estimated to be worth around $100,000.
Andre Rison Couldn't Stay Out Of Financial Trouble
Andre Rison was a wide receiving force to be reckoned with during the peak of his playing career. He had five seasons where he surpassed 1,000 receiving yards and earned $20 million before hanging up his shoulder pads.
Today, Rison is worth an estimated $150,000, having his bank account devastated by unpaid child support bills and a jewelry addiction that he developed as a player. In his post-playing career, Rison has become a coach, finding varied success.
Lawrence Taylor Had Too Many Bad Habits
Known as one of the scariest competitors in NFL history, Lawrence Taylor was an intimidating man on the field. Off the field, however, he had trouble reckoning with his own bad habits.
Multiple trips to rehab, run-ins with the law, and bad investments left Taylor struggling financially after he retired. In 2009, he filed for bankruptcy to avoid his house being foreclosed on. Despite making millions in his career, Taylor is only worth an estimated $100,000 today.
Raghib Ismail Made Several Failed Investments
Raghib Ismael was a wide receiver who spent time in the NFL and the CFL, most notably playing for the Raiders, Cowboys, and Panthers. When he retired, he had earned around $18 million and decided it was time to invest his money.
Most of his money was lost investing in the Rock N' Roll Cafe, a Hard Rock Cafe knock-off. On top of that business, Ismail invested in a movie, a store called "It's in the Name," and a record company.
Warren Sapp Went From Hero To Zero
Warren Sapp was a highly decorated player during his career. He retired with 135 sacks, one Super Bowl championship, and a sure-fire place in the Hall of Fame. So, when his financial problems leaked into the public eye, it caught everyone by surprise.
In 2012, Sapp filed for bankruptcy, unable to pay owed income taxes and legal fees. His debt totaled to $6.7 million, which was not covered after his assets were seized.
Luther Ellis Hopes Other Athletes Learn From His Mistakes
Luther Ellis was a defensive lineman for the Detroit Lions who earned $11 million over the course of his career. While playing, he developed a love for betting. When his paychecks stopped, his new addiction didn't. Having to support 12 children didn't help, either.
Today, Ellis works with incoming NFL rookies, hopeful that sharing his story can help them avoid the same fate. He says, "I talk about not being prideful. A lot of my demise came because I was prideful. I couldn't admit that I needed help. And I didn't take advantage of the resources here, and didn't let anyone know (I needed help) until after the fact. It's those types of things, you don't need to do on your own."
Dermontti Dawson Fell $70 Million In Debt
When you think of players who are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it's hard to imagine any of them struggling to get by. After making $25 million during his career, that's exactly what happened to Dermontti Dawson.
Dawson jumped into the real estate industry after retiring and became a developer. The move left him in shambles when it was reported he was $70 million in debt. After filing for bankruptcy in 2009, he became a sales executive for a promotional products company.
Mark Brunell's 17 Seasons In The NFL Couldn't Keep Him Afloat
Mark Brunell played for 17 seasons in the NFL. He spent time as both a starting QB and back-up, making over $50 million in the process. Despite his longevity, Brunel lost it all, declaring bankruptcy in 2010.
Brunell was a victim of several failed investments, including the development of condos in the Florida area. When he made his filing, he had $5 million in assets to try and cover a $25 million debt.
Chris McAlister Moved Back In With His Parents
A longtime cornerback for the New Orleans Saints, Chris McAlister earned a reported $55 million-plus before he retired. At the same time he retired, McAlister broke off his marriage, a decision that cost him everything.
In 2011, it was reported by TMZ that McAlister had lost all his money and was living with his parents. He was unable to pay $11,000 a month in child support and described himself as living in his "parent's home. My parents provide me with my basic living expenses as I do not have the funds to do so."
Deuce McAllister Lost $70 Million In One Year
Deuce McAllister was a stud running back for the New Orleans Saints, winning one Super Bowl and earning $70 million in the process. When he retired, he invested his money into his own Nissan car dealership, Deuce McAllister Nissan.
After one year of being in business, the dealership filed for bankruptcy, and McAllister was sued by Nissan France. His home was auctioned off in Louisiana to help settle the debt. The once-heralded player has bounced back recently as a radio analyst and chain restaurant owner.
Dan Marino Lost $14 Million On One Investment
Dan Marino is unquestionably one of the greatest QBs of all-time. He redefined the vertical game in the NFL and held nearly every major throwing record until recently. You'd think that would mean he would be set financially for the rest of his life.
The truth is that while Marino isn't broke, he did lose a lot of money on one really bad investment. After reportedly buying 1.6 million shares of the company Digital Domain, the gunslinger lost $14 million when it went of out business.
Vince Young Spent $5,000 A Week At The Cheesecake Factory
Vince Young had a lot of highs and lows during his NFL career. A high round draft pick for Tennessee, he went from Pro Bowl starter to off the team in four seasons. Young last played in the NFL for the Eagles in 2011 after making over $35 million.
In 2014, Young filed for bankruptcy after his spending got the best of him. At his peak, the former signal-caller was spending $5,000 a week at the Cheesecake Factory. He also paid for a $176,000 Ferrari in cash and spent over $300,000 on one of his birthday parties.
Charlie Batch Defaulted On 25 Properties
A 15-year NFL veteran, Charlie Batch's career off the field did not fare as well as it did on it. Looking to protect his financial future, Batch formed the Batch Development Company, which would go on to default on over $1 million in mortgage agreements on 25 properties.
Although Batch earned $9 million during his career, he couldn't cover the expenses and was forced to declare for bankruptcy protection and sell his assets.
Mark Ingram Sr. Went From Super Bowl Hero To Bust
Thanks to the success of Mark Ingram Jr., the failures of his father have all but been forgotten. Ingram Sr. was a Super Bowl hero for the New York Giants in 1990 and retired in 1996 after spending one season with the Eagles.
After retiring, Ingram Sr. lost his income and was sentenced to seven years in prison for defrauding the IRS. Since then, he has continued to have trouble with the law, including jumping bail to see his son play for Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.
Travis Henry Owed $170,000 A Year In Child Support
Travis Henry played for seven seasons in the NFL, for three different teams. He last played in 2007 and turned to substance dealing after to continue earning money to support his growing family.
First married at 19-years-old, Henry would go on to have several relationships, ultimately fathering 11 children with 10 different women. In 2009, he was arrested for failing to pay $16,600 in child support. In total, his lawyer estimates Henry is legally obligated to pay $170,000 a year in child support payments.
JaMarcus Russell Couldn't Get His Life Straight
Seen as the greatest draft bust in NFL history, JaMarcus Russell signed one huge contract in his NFL career, then proceeded to nearly ruin his life. The first overall draft pick by the Raiders, Russell signed a $61 million deal, then seemingly stopped caring about football.
After a few years in the league, Russell was out, 30 pounds over his listed playing weight and struggling with personal issues. A few comeback attempts later helped repair Russell's reputation a little, but not his empty bank account.
Tiki Barber Lost It All To A Divorce
A former running back for the New York Giants, no one could have seen the downfall of Tiki Barber coming. Estimated to have earned $25 million during his career, he successfully transitioned to television when he retired and disaster struck.
Barber had an affair with a 23-year-old intern at NBC while his then-wife was pregnant. He divorced his wife to start a relationship with his mistress and was subsequently fired by NBC. Barber admitted afterward that he was broke since losing his job and being unable to pay his divorce settlement.
Former Houston Rockets and All-Star-Team member Steve Francis has had his fair share of trouble off-court. He played in the NBA for 10 seasons, but after that he struggled with a drug addiction, divorce, and in 2016 even had a warrant out for his arrest for his involvement in a burglary.
Since those tumultuous days, Francis has made a notable effort to give back to his community. He sold his house in 2020 for $5 million and founded the Steve Francis Foundation, which aims "to create educational and recreational opportunities for at-risk youth in the greater Houston and Washington, DC communities".
Terrell Owens Spread Himself Too Thin
Terrell Owens is one of the most divisive players in NFL history. He was electric on the field, earning over $80 million during his Hall of Fame career, but he was also hated by teammates and team personnel for his less-than-ideal behavior.
Still, Owens was a giver off the field, using much of his money to help out family and friends. Add onto his generosity a reported $44,600 a month in child support and several failed investments, and it's easy to see how Owens lost nearly everything.
Ray Rice's Behavior Was So Out Of Line That Fans Burned His Jersey
Ray Rice was with the Baltimore Ravens for six seasons until his terrible behavior ended his promising NFL career. He's still the Ravens' second all-time leading rusher.
In 2014, Rice was indicted for assaulting his then-fiancée. There was even a video of the incident that was so upsetting that some fans burned their Rice jerseys. Criminal charges were later dropped but the Ravens released him, and that was the end of his NFL career and accompanying $9.5 million annual salary. He also lost out on his profitable endorsement deals. Rice returned to his hometown and has coached his former high school's football team but otherwise stays out of the news these days.
Michael Vick Earned His Way Back
Just three years after signing a $130 million contract extension with the Atlanta Falcons, Michael Vick was sentenced to three years in prison for his participation in an illegal dog-fighting operation. The conviction caused irreparable damage to Vick's reputation.
After leaving prison with no money to his name, Vick signed with the Philadelphia Eagles for the humbling sum of $1.6 million. After taking over as the starter, Vick was awarded a $100 million contract, which went a long way toward helping him settle his debts. Since his stint in prison, Vick has become an advocate for animal rights, although some still question the sincerity of his intentions.