Back in 2009 then Sports Illustrated writer Pablo S. Torre wrote what many believed to be the definitive article on what happens to professional athletes, and NFL players in specific, once they retire.
The headline number in Torre’s article was 78 percent — as in 78 percent of all NFL players have gone bankrupt or have gone in to financial distress due to joblessness or divorce.
It was a headline grabbing number to be sure. Think about 4 out of 5 NFL players going broke and it’s easy to see how this was the prevailing narrative that Torre’s article drove.
That’s especially so when that number is the first thing you see when you google ‘NFL players bankruptcies.’
But, is that 78 percent number really accurate? Or was it a poorly conceived piece of research from the get-go?
It’s been a decade since that article was originally written and academic studies have been few, but actually done, in the past decade. That includes a comprehensive study of NFL players and bankruptcy.
The National Bureau of Economic Research study just four years ago took to looking at the claims of bankruptcy in NFL players. What did they find? Just 1.9 percent of all players in the study (those drafted from 1996 to 2003) filed for bankruptcy within two years of retirement.
In fact, they found that the further out from retirement the more likely bankruptcy was. According to the study, 15.7 percent of those players studied filed for bankruptcy within 12 years following retirement.
Those numbers suggest the problem of financial issues seems to be more prominent long term than in the short term.
Of course, this study is just one part of the overall puzzle. Even the study’s authors admitted that.
Torre spent plenty of time following that 2015 study defending his research in to his article. One common refrain was that bankruptcy filings can be misleading because there’s such a stigma to that and most people would rather go broke than file for bankruptcy.
“Bankruptcy is only one measure of a person’s status,” [Kyle] Carlson admitted to me (Torre). “It’s what we could get data on. There are many other ways in which a person could be in financial trouble. You might think of our number as maybe a lower bound for the number of guys who are actually in trouble.”
That very well may be true, but here’s the problem, Torre is the one who printed the 78 percent number and when pressed on how he got that number it turns out very little actual research was done.
He even admits that his inclusion of divorce is based off of anecdotal evidence from assumptions made by others. Torre points out that 60-80 percent of professional athlete marriages end in divorce, but where does that number come from?
It comes from “common estimates from pro athletes and agents.” Otherwise known as a non-scholarly source. Yet, we’re supposed to take that kind of research at face value.
Torre couldn’t be bothered to do what would be a basic function of research for investigative journalism — actually digging in to the numbers given to you. In the case of divorce, that could’ve been easily done by a search of retired NFL players in the past decade and matching up public divorce records to the time of retirement.
Torre even points out in his rebuttal to the 2015 study that he didn’t do the necessary research:
“My 78 percent number from 2009 is limited in its own ways, admittedly. I did not conduct the study myself, and, as I told Carlson, I wish I had access to all its component parts. But the statistic was vetted by multiple NFL and NFL Players Association sources who asked not to be quoted or only be quoted anonymously. Several of them shared with me that the stat had been presented at confidential meetings they attended. It was the last, best estimate anyone in this industry had seen; in the six years since SI published the article, neither the PR-obsessed NFL nor the Players Association has disputed the number’s validity in public.”
So, we are supposed to take him at his word because the NFL and NFLPA says so? It’s not as if the league has a history of hiding numbers, exaggeration or flat out lying before…oh wait.
Even the NFL giving access to a rare data set — pension-eligible retirees — didn’t come close to proving Torre’s numbers correct. Instead, a study the NFL and NFLPA had the University of Michigan do came up with these numbers:
45% (age 50+) and 48% (age 30-49) of retired players said that they have at some point ‘experienced significant losses in business or financial investments.
The University of Michigan study goes on to note bad numbers for Torre’s 78% number again and again (including 49.2 percent of retirees studied had a job within a year).
It’s ironic that Torre used the Michigan study as some sort of defense of his own 78% number. When you actually read it, it does the exact opposite.
So, how did the 78% number even come to exist? When you study the Michigan data, you have to wonder if someone just decided to add up the number of unemployed people, the divorces and bankruptcies filed…as if that’s how all of this works.
We’re also expected to believe that Torre was talking about financial stress from bad investments or businesses gone bad. Nowhere in his caveat of “financial stress from joblessness or divorce” did it include bad business moves.
Now that’s not to say that isn’t the important story. In fact, Torre’s original article actually spent the majority of its time chronicling players who were duped by con-men business people, friends with shady business plans and investments that never panned out.
He also wrote this article in the middle of the Great Recession, where investment income was drying up for just about everyone in the country regardless of wealth.
The combination of Torre’s original article and his defense of it in 2015 leave a lot to be desired based on his original thesis.
That 78 percent number looks to be on very flimsy research at best and downright lazy journalism at worst. It’s almost like he had a narrative he wanted to fit things in to and missed the real story even as he wrote it.
Never mind the fact that Torre takes apart some of the very people he uses within his article as resources. Torre literally states his numbers came from athletes, players’ associations, agents and financial advisers and then goes on to call all of them liars and part of the problem to begin with.
Are we supposed to trust that the financial advisors Torre calls out as crooks are providing accurate numbers? What about player’s associations with clear conflicts of interest or athletes who may be embarrassed by losses and the state of their financial affairs?
It all adds up to a narrative that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny and one that needs to be shouted out as false.
Nick Bosa in trouble with sports writers for having the wrong opinions
The Social Justice Sports Warrior has struck again. This time, the offender is potential top NFL draft pick Nick Bosa.
His crime? He had three old “takes” surface from his Twitter account after he went through and deleted them.
Those three takes? Apparently he didn’t care for Black Panther, believed Beyoncé’s music was “trash” and that Colin Kaepernick was a “clown.”
But even worse, he had the audacity to support Donald Trump and more conservative-leaning commentators as well.
Immediately the SJSW’s sprung to action, because those opinions are wrong and they can’t stand. In fact, Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman took action long before Bosa deleted the tweets.
How dare Nick Bosa have an opinion and express it via Twitter!
Does anyone else see the hypocrisy in the SJSW’s here? Most literally make a living off of stating opinions on Twitter and in front of whatever camera they can get in front of.
Should they be shamed and publicly flogged for anything that steps out of the SJSW orthodoxy? Well, look at what happens to Jason Whitlock on a regular basis.
This self-important group of writers and talking heads won’t stand for someone else speaking their opinion? How strange and hypocritical of them.
There’s a difference between debating the merits of what someone said and the public shaming of someone for daring to have a different opinion than yours.
It’s gotten so bad that in anticipation of the wokest city in the NFL, San Francisco, having its team draft him, Bosa found it necessary to even consider having to delete his former Tweets. He admitted to it in an ESPN interview recently.
It may be a smart move in terms of crafting an image, but this is the internet age and it isn’t going way — especially if you are one to step out of the orthodoxy.
Bosa’s opinions were so wrong to the SJSW crowd that deleting them is a crime too.
So, the lesson here is to not step out of the bounds of thought that the SJSW’s deem okay or they will pounce. You must think, act and talk like them or they will get you no matter what you do.
An apology…not good enough.
Deleting the “offending” tweets? You’re just hiding that you’re a racist.
Literally, there is no path to redemption if you step out of the thought spectrum of today’s sports writers and opinion makers.
Let this be a lesson to everyone. EVERYTHING you say on social media can and will be used against you if you don’t agree with the mob.
Why the sudden obsession with Julian Edelman as an NFL Hall of Famer?
Just stop it…stop it right now.
Stop the talk of Julian Edelman as an NFL Hall of Fame player.
After last night’s Super Bowl LIII performance the glowing reviews came in and Nate Burleson told the world that Edelman just cemented his Hall of Fame career.
Edelman racked up 10 receptions for 141 yards en route to helping his team win the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in the history of the game. Tom Brady completed just 11 passes to players not name Edelman in the win too.
His performance got the attention of ESPN’s Adam Schefter too.
But, the Super Bowl MVP isn’t a Hall of Fame player, he just isn’t. Ranking 148th in receptions and in the 250’s in receiving yards is not Hall of Fame worthy.
Sure, his 115 receptions for 1,412 yards, plus five touchdowns in 18 career playoff games are amazing numbers to put up. But, are they a sign of his overall greatness or just the fact that he’s been around long enough to accumulate postseason stats few players would be able to?
The Washington Post points out that even the great Michael Irvin couldn’t put up those kind of postseason results on the stat sheet. Irvin put up 87 catches for 1,315 yards and eight touchdowns in 16 playoff games during the Cowboy’s run in the 1990’s.
Yes, the New England Patriots spread the ball around and yes there’s something to be said of longevity.
But, the Hall of Fame isn’t an award for being on the right team for the longest period of time. It’s supposed to be about individual greatness throughout a career.
If we are going to award people a bust in Canton based on a few snippets in time, then there are about 100 other players who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
In fact, look at some of the names who have recently been elected to the Hall of Fame from the last decade or so and I’d have serious questions about just how special making the Hall of Fame is anymore.
Kurt Warner comes immediately to mind in this discussion. He’s in and he is one of the statistically worst quarterbacks in the Hall of Fame. But, he did have some great years with the Rams and Cardinals and two Super Bowl wins seems to be the
But, I haven’t even gotten to the biggest strike against Edelman yet — his four-game suspension for taking performance enhancing drugs. Given the age we are in, getting popped for PED’s is a big no-no and should disqualify one from Hall of Fame consideration as it is.
Beyond that, let’s just consider how the NFL’s Hall of Fame has treated some of the best players of all-time in the past.
Let’s just remember, it took Jerry Kramer, arguably the greatest guard in the NFL during the 1960’s and a member of a team that won 5 NFL championships in 7 seasons, until 2018 to make it in to the Hall of Fame.
Leroy Butler, one of the most revolutionary safeties, has not sniffed the Hall of Fame. Same for names like Shannon Sharpe or Steve Tasker as wide receivers.
In fact, Tasker is perhaps the best mirror for Edelman’s career. He was the spark plug and key component to the Buffalo Bill’s AFC dynasty in the 1990’s thanks to his special teams acumen. He played a very different role than a star receiver would and his contributions in post-season play were key in getting the Bills to four straight Super Bowls.
He’s not in, neither are names like Alex Karras or Tony Boselli just to name a few.
Yet, we’re supposed to believe Edelman is in over these historic contributors to the game?
It should be difficult to get in and the regular season numbers should matter too.
Edelman has carved out a niche as a clutch player in big games, but that’s not a reason alone to put him in the Hall of Fame…at least by the standards the hall has given us to date.
Now, if you want to argue the Hall of Fame needs to change its thinking, that’s a different discussion for a different day.
The Undefeated uses questionable polling to advance Kaepernick narrative
What is Super Bowl LIII’s prevailing narrative? No, not Tom Brady’s ageless wonder. No, not Jared Goff’s sunshine good looks. No, not the fact that the Patriots once again made it to the Super Bowl. No, not the Rams refreshing offense and new-age take on NFL football.
On the eve of the Super Bowl, ESPN’s bastion of woke sports takes has this as it’s main article on the site: “Kaepernick rarely speaks but still dominates every NFL conversation.”
Because of course…everything in the woke world of SJSW has to be about the king of protest and wokeness in sports today.
But, is Kaepernick really the dominant discussion in the NFL these days?
Literally, the only one’s talking about Colin Kaepernick when it comes to this Super Bowl are the folks at The Undefeated and their SJSW ilk.
The Undefeated has decided to prove their article true with a poll. That poll states 77 percent of blacks (their word, not mine) believe Kaepernick is being penalized by the NFL for his political stances. It also says 59 percent of whites (their word, not mine again) believe the same thing.
Those numbers are certainly interesting and they certainly bolster a public that has bought in to the narrative of the league blackballing him. It’s something we’d love to see come out in the lawsuit, one way or the other.
But, it is also important to understand the poll and how serious we should take it.
The rub? Naturally, the poll was done by the scientific geniuses at SurveyMonkey. To make matters a bit fuzzier, The Undefeated won’t publish a link to the poll’s findings nor how the poll was set up.
Add in the fact that we don’t have the actual question that was asked in the poll in the article and something doesn’t smell right.
If ever there’s a sign of something fishy it’s commissioning a poll and never bothering to release anything beneath the surface findings. It’s almost as if they don’t want us prodding in to their methodology or their conclusions from the poll.
However, that would just be a distraction from the narrative they want us all to believe in.
Proof of that came in NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s pre-Super Bowl press conference earlier today. The SJSW’s gathered in Atlanta just had to make it about Kaepernick, despite very little actual news happening in his ongoing lawsuit against the league.
Goodell, who is part of the named parties in the lawsuit, attempted to walk a careful line in what he would say about the matter.
“I’ve said it many times privately, publicly that our clubs are the ones that make decisions on players that they want to have on their roster,” the commissioner said Wednesday.
“They want to win, and they make those decisions individually in the best interest of their club.”
Naturally, the wokeness on Twitter came immediately and unflinchingly after Goodell’s words on the matter.
But, that’s what happens when it’s all about click-bait journalism. Instead of being able to simply present the facts and let us make a decision, they’ve hidden data that is important to make an informed decision about the matter before us.
How are we supposed to trust the numbers of a poll that they won’t even bother to even give us a sample size for, let alone the full polling data set?
We simply don’t have an answer to the question this article is supposed to be asking because The Undefeated wasn’t even honest enough to publish it’s poll.
Publishing an article that creates more questions than answers can be a good tactic…if you are creating questions about the subject of your article and not your own methodology.
But, this continues to prove why woke sports reporting can’t be trusted these days. It’s clearly narrative over journalistic integrity and transparency for the SJSW’s at The Undefeated.