In the aftermath of the 2016 NFL Draft, hundreds of players will begin signing their first professional contract. What will they do with a life-changing amount of money? Will they save or invest? Will they spend lavishly? NFL Media's former players recall their first purchases and how the contracts changed their lives.
Willie McGinest (1994 draft: Round 1, Pick 4)
My first purchase: I did several things for my parents. The Toyota Camry was the hot car off the lot at the time, so I bought that for my mom. Then, my parents didn't want to move out of the neighborhood where we grew up in, so I demolished the house and built a brand new one right there. After I took care of them, I bought myself a new truck.
I was happy that I could provide for my family, but didn't get overly excited for my first paycheck. I remember I was in Las Vegas with my agent and I won about $300 playing blackjack or craps. I jumped up and was ecstatic. My agent looks over at me and said, "Dude, you just signed a multi-million dollar contract and you didn't show any expression. Now, you win a few hundred dollars and you go berserk." That was pretty funny, looking back on it.
Michael Robinson (2006 draft: Round 4, Pick 100)
My first purchase: I bought some jewelry and a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe when the vehicle's body style changed. I was hyped for that. I also bought a house with my signing bonus.
I'm not going to lie, I was scared to have a large sum of money. I thought somebody might rob me or take the money out of my account somehow. I had never seen money on this scale before. I felt a responsibility like, Whoa, man. There are so many people looking at me with this money that I can't fail. I felt like if I failed and blew a check this big, it would be embarrassing and a shame.
Heath Evans (2001 draft: Round 3, Pick 82)
My first purchase: The first thing I did was I bought my sister the Mercedes-Benz SUV that I'd always promised her. Being in Seattle, I remember going to Daniel's Broiler about once a week. That was how I splurged.
I remember taking my signing-bonus check to the bank before I left for training camp. It was so weird because I was walking around with a $500,000 check in my pocket. I opened a bank account with that check, and there was no verification process because it boldly said "Seattle Seahawks" at the top. People at the bank were like, "Oh, Mr. Evans. Welcome to town." That was a cool day.
Maurice Jones-Drew (2006 draft: Round 2, Pick 60)
My first purchase: I was fined in my first preseason game for celebrating, so technically, I didn't get a first paycheck. But with my signing bonus, I bought a house and saved a lot of it.
Even when I signed my contract, I never stopped doing my regular routine. I tell young players that whatever you do with your time and money, it's just going to enhance when you have money. Fortunately, earning large amounts of money didn't change me much. But it was nice that if I wanted to do something, I could do it at the drop of a dime. I am a spontaneous person, so it's nice to be able to do or buy something if I want.
David Carr (2002 draft: Round 1, Pick 1)
My first purchase: We had already bought a beautiful home in Houston, but we had nothing in it. I remember eating pizza while sitting on the floor with my wife, so the first thing we did was buy a couch and a TV. Then we paid the house off.
It's very tempting to go out and blow it. Fortunately, I had a great support system, and my dad would've kicked my butt if I spent it recklessly. My signing bonus was around $14 million, and I told my dad that maybe I should cash it. He said laughing, "You're going to cash this? Where do you plan on putting that when you walk out of the bank?"
Having that much money in a matter of seconds was like winning the lottery, I'd imagine. There's no other way to equate it. It kind of feels like you have Monopoly money. One hard thing is, you feel like you have to spend it, because you're around all your teammates who are spending their money. It's an interesting dynamic, and you have to keep your head on straight. Otherwise, you're going to end up on "Broke 2."
LaDainian Tomlinson (2001 draft: Round 1, Pick 5)
My first purchase: I bought my mom a house and a new ride. She wanted a Cadillac Escalade, so that's what she got. Other than that, I put my money in the bank and invested it.
It's a great feeling to be set financially, but it's overwhelming, because you get so many phone calls. You become the guy that everyone looks at to pay the bills or help with business ideas. It's hard to say no to family members or friends that you love and grow up with, but you have to.
Nate Burleson (2003 draft: Round 3, Pick 71)
My first purchase: I bought an Escalade, a fake watch and a fake chain -- in my mind, I thought no one is going to question if they were real because I was an NFL player -- and gave my parents money to help with bills. Looking back, I wish I would have bought a more fuel-efficient vehicle and a home.
Growing up, I was a multi-sport athlete and didn't specifically focus on an NFL career, so I had absolutely no clue what to expect. I remember the Vikings gave me a check for $529,000, and it was unbelievable. I was very frugal at first, because I figured I better walk out of this career with more money than I came in with, and I didn't know how long my career was going to last. I was a hoarder of my money early on, because I didn't have the knowledge I wanted to about investments or buying property or fancy things. The easiest thing for me was to keep it in my bank account where I could see it.
Shaun O'Hara (undrafted in 2000)
My first purchase: I'm pretty sure I bought the keg that night for my group of friends.
The craziest thing about becoming an NFL player who makes a good chunk of money is how people start to look at you differently. Your phone rings a lot more. People are happy for you, but everybody starts to want something from you, too. That was a hard thing for me to manage, because I'm a pleaser. I don't like saying no, but you have to protect yourself. Saying no is something that goes against my natural instinct, so it had to become a learned behavior.
Eric Davis (1990 draft: Round 2, Pick 53)
My first purchase: My parents wanted a new roof for their home, so I took care of that for them. I also bought a few sweatsuits and a gold Mickey Mouse watch.
I remember that I didn't have a reason to spend the money. I paid my bills and that was about it. There was no direct deposit back then, and most of the time I didn't feel like actually going to the bank. I would have checks sitting on the kitchen table, and sometimes I looked over and remembered thinking, Man, I really need to go to the bank.
Ike Taylor (2003 draft: Round 4, Pick 125)
My first purchase: I threw it in the bank and maybe bought some clothes and shoes. That was about it.
It's a life-changing event. With that amount of money, it's not so much that you start finding all of these new things to spend your money on, but instead, your habits are escalated. I understood what amount I needed to save and reach to live well for the rest of my life. Getting into that position financially is part of what you work so hard for.