Black Athletes And Their Millions: How Some Are Making That Green Work

By Gregory Moore
Updated: February 4, 2005

Today’s players need to know that beyond the “ching” there should be a “ching, ching” of perpetual wealth. Are today’s players just caught up in the the bling, bling to truly understand the concept?

SAN ANTONIO – When I did the article about former NFL player Reggie Fowler wanting to purchase the Minnesota Vikings, in the back of my mind I realized that he is one of several players who have maximized their time in the league by letting their playing ability perpetuate their wealth into their non-playing lives. Fowler is said to be worth about $300 million with a company that has the ability to give him a comfortable margin to become an NFL owner. Well since that time there has been a rumor that current NFL rushing leader Emmitt Smith will retire sometime in the next five days or so and join Fowler as a major interest in the ownership group. If that is the case, this is just another example of players becoming saavy businessmen at a time when it really hasn’t been ‘acceptable’ for individuals like Fowler or Smith to do so. Ownership seems to not be on the minds of most of these young Black ball players but there are a few who see the vision and shoot for that mark.

Perpetuating wealth is a concept that is hard for anyone to grasp especially if you are a minority. Let’s be real and honest about some things. For the most part African Americans who grew up in the projects don’t really have good, positive role models to look at. I think it’s fair to say that unless you have a strong family unit that has some strong sense of values, at one point in your life, the drug dealer, hooker, or lone shark agent was your role model. That is if you were in the projects and didn’t have the best of circumstances. Now is that painting everyone who was born and raised in the projects with a wide brush. Unfortunately it is but it’s not intended to do so. Even if said individuals didn’t have the best of circumstances, if they had a will to succeed and get out of the ‘ghetto’ or barrio, they used what many of consider as negative concepts as the fuel to drive them to succeed on the other side of the tracks. And while I’m painting, let me say that just because some of may not have lived in the hood doesn’t necessarily mean we had the good life either. Sometimes getting the silver spoon is worse than no spoon at all. Bottom line is that if there isn’t a strong drive to succeed, many of our brethren are stuck in the ghetto.

By today’s standards in the Black community, perpetuating wealth is a very new concept even to the new generation. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had in the barbershop about why it is imperative for us, as a people, to learn to maximize our collective wealth and get into ventures that are so out of the box that it’s scary. Athletes should be thinking about ownership at one point in their lives. Athletes should be thinking about finding ways to continue to have a business relationship with a league that has paid them large ransoms for their athletic gifts. Athletes should be thinking about car dealerships, hospitality ownership and other business ventures because ironically it should be the same thing that the ‘ordinary’ Black citizen should be thinking about as well. Yet for the rest of us ordinary folks to even think outside the box, we are more likely to do so when we see athletes take those necessary steps. I know it’s an asinine concept but unfortuanately that is just how we operate sometimes. For the most part Black folks react to a situation instead of being proactive to a cause.

FINDING EXAMPLES AND THEN MAXIMIZING THE CHOICES MADE For many young Black athletes who are now instant millionaires, it is hard to find someone who is a stellar example of what it is to be rich after your playing days. I continually refer to the phrase of what is the difference between being rich and being wealthy in my columns and this is a prime time use the illustration once again. As I have stated numerous times and if anyone is a fan of Chris Rock knows, there is a big difference between being Bill Gates’ rich and being Oprah Winfrey wealthy. Rock’s famous joke is that if Gates woke up with Oprah’s money, he would commit suicide. Well now I don’t think he’d do that but when you put that in perspective to what owners are worth and what players are worth, you can get an understanding of the concept.

So when you have a person like Fowler who is looking to join what has perceivably been known as the Billionaire’s Club, you want to know if he is a good example for others to follow. By every accord of research that I have done on him, Fowler is the closest person that I can come up with that could make inroads into the NFL. If Smith becomes a part of that ownership group, then that would be just one more example for other young black athletes to follow. Once the example is set for these athletes, we might see more and more of them making inroads to the avenues of team ownership on various levels.

So just how do we regular folk try to help influence athletes to become the Bill Gates or Warren Buffets of the world? It seems that for the examples to be in place, we, meaning the ordinary folk, will have to search for them. Believe me folks they are out there and Fowler isn’t one of the main characters. There are many athletes who are in businesses that we don’t even know of or know about who are in positions to become team owners.