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  • Ben Carter

The Lesson Ciara, Russell Wilson (and One Other Person) Have To Teach About Money

This piece originally appeared on

The NFL Season is here. Drenched in leftover conversation about deflated balls, concussions and domestic abuse, the NFL is back in all its glory. Oh joy! I cannot wait to have my heart broken in some new and creative way by my favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys. #ThatWasACatch

As the creator of a company called Manage Your Damn Money, part of my job is to stay aware of interesting, often hidden lessons our world has to offer about money. One of the leading entertainment/sports stories of the summer features two wonderful people none of us could have imagined would star alongside one another in a real life drama.

I am talking about Ciara and Russell Wilson.

Ciara is a wonderfully talented and long-legged songstress whose tracks I vividly remember “freak dancing” to at John Muir High School. Ciara classics like “Goodies” featuring Peaty Pablo (Remember him?) and “Oh” featuring the skinny and cornrowed Ludacris, send me in a time-machine back to juvenile parties in my hometown of Pasadena, California.

Russell Wilson is the hugely successful Seattle Seahawks quarterback who when I first saw him looked more like a European football player than an American one (Note: This is a soccer vs. football joke). Wilson has been to the Super Bowl twice in the last two years and won his first Super Bowl on his first try. Had his coach called a running play on the final play of last season’s last game, he’d likely have two Super Bowl titles to his name. Still, Russell is one of the quickest ever to find the levels of success he’s found. Russell has thrown the most touchdowns in any NFL quarterback’s first three seasons (42) and currently holds the second best passer rating ever, after Aaron Rodgers.

It’s no secret. Ciara and Russell Wilson are dating. I’ve actually heard ESPN analysts mention Ciara’s name during discussions about Seahawks’ training camp. Many social media handles and opinionated minds might attack CiCi for dating what appears to be a rich, handsome football player for her own benefit. The formula for finding a wealthy man to secure one’s finances is no new trick.

But upon further review we see this cannot be the case. Up until his recent contract extension, Wilson was one of the most notoriously underpaid employees in America. In the dictionary, “underpaid” should have shown pictures of a teacher, an in-home care specialist and Russell Wilson. Wilson was earning $2.99 million over the course of four years. Considering his multiple Super Bowl appearances, making somewhere between $300,000 to $400,000 each season, playing what’s become America’s favorite sport is absurd, at best; indentured servitude if I want to get politically and socioeconomically “charged up”.

Thankfully for Russ, this situation has since been corrected. Wilson recently signed an $87.6 million contract to give the Seahawks four more years of his playing services. $60 million of that money is guaranteed, the holy grail of NFL pay. I should point out that Ciara was dating him before this extension… But defending my beloved CiCi is not the point of me writing this.

Even when you’re as exceptional a player as Russell Wilson, playing America’s favorite and most risky sport, there is a chance your financial future is still not secure.

Recently, news broke that Detroit Lions wide receiver Ryan Broyles raises his family on the modest annual salary of $60,000 a year. Broyles signed a contract for $3.6 million ($1.4 million guaranteed) after being drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft but lives on a modest American salary.

Michael Rothstein’s ESPN profile of Ryan Broyles shows an NFL player who realized before he started playing, he’d have to work to keep from going broke. He and his wife live on about $60,000 each year. The rest of his money gets invested. The piece shows an NFL player who understands his playing career won’t last forever, but that playing for the NFL presents the opportunity to create wealth and live more comfortably, longer.

Russell Wilson seems like a pretty responsible guy, especially considering the photo above. But how many more non-Super Bowl winning, non-touchdown throwing, special teams playing NFL-ers can stand to approach their playing career with the "future" in mind (see what I did there?) the way Ryan Broyles does?

I’m sure we’ll find out 13 years from now seeing which former players are featured on ESPN’s third installment of the 30 for 30 documentary series “Broke”.

Ben Carter is the Host and CEO of Manage Your Damn Money and author of Fictitious Financial Fairytale: A Completely Untrue Story About Money, Friends and Moscow Mules.

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