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How an NFL player planned his post-football finances

Turner Cowles

Retired running back Rashad Jennings played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Oakland Raiders and the New York Giants.

“After every single season, I would always come back to the table and say ‘Rashad, that last season I just played was the last season I’ll ever play. What are you going to do now?’”

Jennings, 33, played for eight seasons — more than double the average tenure of an NFL player of only 3.3 years. In the off seasons, Jennings learned archery, poetry, card and magic tricks. He even learned to ballroom dance by joining the cast of Dancing with the Stars, winning the trophy on season 24 — and reportedly $345,000 along with it. He recently released a book as well, called “The If in Life: How to Get Off Life’s Sidelines and Become Your Best Self.”

One thing he doesn’t do is debt.

“I don’t do debt. Me and debt don’t get along,” Jennings said. “A lot of times you hear about guys who bought a brand new car, buying a big old house.”

Instead of buying a flashy car when he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars back in 2009, Jennings bought a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to help him recover from injuries. He considers it to be one of the biggest reasons he was able to play in the league so long.

“I’m going to invest in my body,” said Jennings. “I pay for a particular type of training; I pay for a particular type of chef; I pay for a particular type of sleeping habits.”

But don’t tell Jennings about how so many players “go broke.” He said it’s important to frame the discussion as a broader look at players’ finances and living situations. A career in the NFL is much shorter than a traditional career.

Athletes need to prepare for life off the field, Jennings said. “I think the narrative should be completely changed,” Jennings said. “If somebody’s going from $7 million a year … They stop playing football, and now they’re working a corporate job. Let’s say they’re starting to get $100,000. Seven million to $100,000 … That is a $6.9 million difference.”

Jennings says he’s always learning — and not just card tricks and dance steps. He hired some financial advisers and asked questions. So many questions, he said, that he annoyed them.

The closest Jennings said he has gotten to debt was buying a home for his parents, but he set up automatic payments for the loan to help build good credit.

“If you do not plan for your future, you’re struggling.” Jennings said.