View Full Version : Many ex-Steelers, other NFL veterans shift into finance when they leave game behind

09-20-2006, 11:04 PM
Many ex-Steelers, other NFL veterans shift into finance when they leave game behind
Thursday, September 21, 2006

By Anya Sostek, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Four "X's" mark spots on a poster hanging on the wall of Randy Grossman's Aspinwall office -- but rather than diagramming a football play, these highlight selected months in the 70-plus-year performance of a stock market index fund.

Mr. Grossman, once a Steeler tight end and now an Edward Jones financial planner, refers to those "X's" -- marking Februarys in 1975, 1976, 1979 and 1980 -- as "the biggest financial mistakes of my life."

Rather than investing even $10,000 of each of his Super Bowl bonuses, he bought cars. The cars, which he sold years ago, were "not worth squat." The money, had he invested it in even a conservative growth fund, would now be worth well over $1 million.

As a financial planner, part of Mr. Grossman's pitch is easy: Don't make the same mistakes that he did, even if it's $10 -- and not $10,000 -- that you could be investing.

Mr. Grossman is one of many former Steelers populating the Pittsburgh business world. Delicate financial transactions don't exactly mesh with the image of hulking linebackers and crushing hits, but the finance industry actually is relatively common for football players to enter after retirement.

"It's very competitive, and lends to the competitive nature of a player," said Andre Collins, director of the retired players division of the NFL Player's Association, who noted that he knows of hundreds, if not thousands, of former players now working in finance.

Mr. Collins said that retired players are involved at all levels of the financial sector, from advising individual investors, as Mr. Grossman does, to advising large institutions, which former defensive end Dwight White does as senior managing director of public finance for Mesirow Financial.

"I've seen it at all levels," said Mr. Collins. "I've seen the guys that really hustle in personal services and seen the guys who are really running big funds."

Retired linebacker Andy Russell has been involved with some of the largest financial transactions by a former Steeler.

One of his previous businesses, RRZ Public Markets, became one of the largest underwriters of municipal bonds in the state before it was sold to JP Morgan in 2003.

Now, he's a managing partner with Laurel Mountain Partners, a firm that invests in waste management assets.

Unlike many other NFL players, Mr. Russell was interested in finance before -- and during -- his professional career. He used some of his NFL salary to pay his way through business school, and formed his own company while playing for the Steelers.

While both Mr. Russell and Mr. Grossman say that their status as former Steelers has probably helped their business careers, both also say that it isn't nearly as important as one might think.

"It doesn't hurt," said Mr. Grossman, "but it doesn't get it done by itself."

In fact, said Mr. Grossman, stereotypes about football players can make prospective clients wary of trusting him with their money.

"A lot of people, until they get to know you, have a really low opinion of your capabilities," he said. "They think you're just a dumb jock."

Mr. Grossman said that referrals are his main source of business, and that about half of his clients are too young to really remember him as a player.

In addition to finance, ex-players often own restaurants, fast-food franchises and car dealerships, said Mr. Collins. In all areas, the former players who think that they can have a successful post-football career based solely on name recognition are often the ones who don't make it, he said.

"The players that have the most success are those guys who can put the athletic part of their life in a box and put it away somewhere and move forward with the skills that they have," he said.

When Mr. Russell started out as a businessman, in fact, he was so eager to separate finance from football that he went by his first name, Charles, for business, reserving his middle name, Andrew, for football.

Now, he uses Andy for both, but more for simplicity's sake than to emphasize his football ties.

"I end up telling a lot of Steelers stories," he said, "which is fun, but it doesn't have much to do with business."


09-21-2006, 02:47 PM
Its an easy way to go.

You made alot of money. So you know alot of people with money. So you already have clients with money! Easy as $$$

09-21-2006, 06:43 PM
Its an easy way to go.

You made alot of money. So you know alot of people with money. So you already have clients with money! Easy as $$$

Exactly. I worked at a brokerage firm in Boston and we had 1 ex NFL player and 2 ex NHL players.