One of the things I like to do in the morning is scroll through the news app on my phone for a couple of minutes so I can stay updated on what is going on in the world. Many times, I'll find interesting articles and sometimes I just glance at the headline, but other times if I find a really intriguing article, I'll read the whole thing. Recently I came across two articles that had a profound impact on me and I wanted to talk about two of those people today. The first is Russell Wilson and the gift he made to his offensive lineman and the second is about Brandon Copeland and the "Life 101" class he teaches. Both guys are professional athletes and understand that having success isn't just limited to athletics but also spreads to other areas of your life especially the financial side.
Russell Wilson is the Quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks and recently signed a massive 4-year $140 million dollar deal making him the highest paid player in the NFL. Shortly afterward, a news report came out about Wilson giving gifts to his offensive linemen. Having a good offensive line plays a huge role in the success of the quarterback. Because the linemen's job are to protect the quarterback and make sure he isn't taking a lot of hits, it's customary that the quarterbacks will take care of the big fellas by buying them gifts occasionally. In the past, we've seen lineman get Ipad's, grills, custom jeans, and even 4 wheelers. While these gifts are great, they don't always have the greatest long-term value. Russell Wilson decided to take a different approach. Instead of a material gift, he decided to buy all 13 of his linemen Amazon stock! He bought each of them $12,000 worth of Amazon Stock totaling to $156,000. Amazon is currently trading at around $1,945 which is just about 6 shares per person.
In a letter he shared with them, one of the things he said was, "When I sat down to think of ways to honor your dedication, a dozen different ideas came to mind. Some were flashy, some were cool, but I wanted to give you something that had a lasting impact. Something that would affect the lives of you, your family, and your children. The memories last forever but we have to constantly prepare for life after football." I think this not only shows Russell Wilson's maturity but also his foresight to think for the long term. By changing our thoughts on how we give gifts, we too can help others secure the future that they want in life. As athletes, we sometimes get caught up in the moment and don't think about what happens when we stop playing. He is showing that by taking advantage of the platform and position he is in now, he can be an example to other athletes and people that when you have a growth mindset about money, there are ways to spend it and get the most out of it so you and your family can reap the benefits for years to come.
Brandon Copeland is currently an NFL player for the New York Jets. While he doesn't have a huge NFL contract, he is taking advantage of every opportunity he has to maximize his high earning potential because he also knows that football could be taken from him at any moment. He has been taking steps since he made it to the league to make sure he has a secure financial future. Where did he get the skills and knowledge to make smart financial decisions? Being a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School of Business certainly helped. He also gained a glimpse of what it was like without football in 2017 when he had a season-ending injury and wanted to make sure he still had money coming in. He created a real estate company with his wife and used the time between training and rehab to build the real estate company to a six-figure earning status within the first year!
Once he was able to get back on the field, he signed a 1 year, 1.2-million-dollar contract. He could spend a lot of that money but instead, he took the opposite approach of saving about 90% of his income! Nearly 60 percent of Copeland's post-tax salary goes towards "safe, long-term" investments, he explained. Another 30 percent goes towards savings. He lives off the remaining 10-15 percent. While the average American might not be able to do this, you can still pay yourself first and make sure you're setting a portion of your income aside for the future every time you get paid.
The most significant thing I think he is doing is the financial literacy class he teaches called, Life 101 at his alma mater, University of Pennsylvania alongside Dr. Brian Peterson, the director of Penn's Makuu Black Cultural Center. The class covers "the realities of life we all have to deal with," he says, like how to invest, plan for retirement and build credit. Similar to what I talked about in last week's post about financial literacy in schools, he was talking to his teammates about the money mistakes they made in their early 20's and things they wish they would have known but never had someone to teach them about. In his class, he explains basic financial concepts but focuses mainly on the application of these concepts. His goal is to share this knowledge with as many people as possible because he realizes how much making bad decisions now with your money can impact you in the future.
These two men are examples of people who are actively trying to help others, give back knowledge, and represent the good things that can come when you use the platform you have. Everyone has a platform they can use to help others, it might not be as big as being an NFL player, but we all have people we can help in some way so that they have knowledge on what a better future can look like for them. I hope more people follow their examples and we all find creative ways to not only invest in ourselves but the people around us.