Phillip Buchanon coaches money skills via his hard lessons

Former first-round NFL draft pick Phillip Buchanon, who learned his financial lessons the hard way, is at the NFL Rookie Symposium this week in Aurora, Ohio, hoping to pass along his hard-won knowledge.

Buchanon, writing on his personal blog, says, "When I got to the NFL, I was all dollars and no sense. I am here at the NFL Rookie Symposium to make sure that these NFL rookies don’t make the same mistakes that I did. I wish I had better mentors and I wish I had the right people around me. That would have impacted my career early on, no doubt."

That career lasted from 2002, when the defensive back from Miami (Fla.) was the Raiders' No. 1 pick, through 2011, when he retired from the Redskins. According to one estimate, he had more than $20 million in earnings in his 10-season career. Yet he didn't maximize the potential of that huge sum.

"If I had the right team around me back when I started playing in the league, mentors who could have helped put me on the right path and pointed me in the right direction, I would have saved a lot more money," he writes. "And the reason why I focus on the financial piece is because I know that if I had that part better figured out, I would have played better on the field too. I had to deal with major family-related financial situations when I should have been focusing on football."

Buchanon also has written a book titled "New Money: Staying Rich" about his learning curve, which included his mom demanding $1 million as payback for raising him, he said. But it goes beyond that, he writes, into the decision-making process when dealing with newfound wealth.

"When I talk about this, people sometimes ask what kind of bad financial decisions I made. I’d say blowing $1.5 million in one business deal was pretty bad. I would say giving a lot of money away — $50,000 here, $20,000 there — was not a smart move. When you are a young player with new money, you feel obligated to just give your money away because of the pressure that you feel, especially from your own family."

By appearing at the Rookie Symposium, Buchanon hopes to share his story with young players who, in turn, will make better decisions from the start of their professional careers: "When they come into getting a lot of money, I want them to make sure it’s permanent money. I don’t want them to blow it all, and next thing you know, it’s gone."

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