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Will NFL players be able to budget during lockout?

By Barry Wilner

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, March 20 2011 4:05 p.m. MDT

"I would be shocked if that happens to any of our guys," Light said.

But, says Pitts, it wouldn't be all that stunning for the younger players to either have not gotten the message or ignored it. That has made communicating with them so critical.

"If you're not taught how to do something, the chances you are just going to learn it without help are not very good," he said. "If a kid hasn't been taught how to (ride a bicycle), he's probably never going to do it. He's probably not going to learn on his own."

Pitts knows of players who aren't living as large as they once did, including several who told him their postseason vacations were cut in half or even shelved.

All the players have taken a bit of a financial hit already because of the lockout: NFL teams no longer are paying for their health insurance. Fujita paid $1,900 this month for coverage for his wife and two children. For bigger families, the price is around $2,400 a month.

Yes, Fujita signed a three-year, $14 million free agent contract with Cleveland a year ago, with $8 million guaranteed. He's also played nine seasons, and the league average is about one-third of that.

"We may make a lot of money, but it is for a very short time," said Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel, one of 10 players whose names are on an antritrust action against the NFL in a U.S. District Court to stop the lockout. " I have been lucky to be in this game for 14 years, to think about that is crazy.

"The average guy plays 3.4 years, and you have got to make that work."

The 1,900 or so players in the league now must plan to make the numbers work despite potentially not receiving paychecks in 2011; normally, they get paid in each of the 17 weeks of the schedule.

"My financial adviser has told me to put a little more away and to budget here and there a bit more, and I have," Colon said. "You don't want to have to find another job because you were not careful with your money and now the money isn't coming."

AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this story.

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