One in six retired NFL players go bankrupt, study finds

Detail of the ball as the Kansas City Chiefs warm up prior to facing the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on November 14, 2010 in Denver, Colo.
Detail of the ball as the Kansas City Chiefs warm up prior to facing the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on November 14, 2010 in Denver, Colo.

Success in the National Football League doesn't protect players from bankruptcy.

Nearly 16% of NFL players drafted between 1996 and 2003 declared bankruptcy within 12 years of retirement, according to a new working paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

"I think the biggest issue for the athletes is understanding how long the money will last and not knowing when their careers will come to an end."'

Researchers from the California Institute of Technology, George Washington University and the University of Washington, discovered that initial bankruptcy filings began very soon after players retired from the league and continued at a substantial rate through the first dozen years of retirement.