Vai's View: Vai's View: Financial advice for NFL first-round draft picks

Published: Friday, April 27 2012 3:44 p.m. MDT

Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

Marcio Sanchez, AP

A new crop of 32 one-percenters has been anointed.

That's the number of new first-round draft picks selected by the NFL last night. Lesser-known and lower-paid draftees will be added this weekend.

The clubs have done their due diligence in scouting the players, including a battery of psychological tests to help determine a player's proclivity to go haywire once he's in the pros. Truth is, with some it's just a crapshoot.

One of the biggest question marks that neither team executives nor psychics can foretell is what a man will do, how he'll act, once they direct deposit $10 million into his bank account.

Steve Young was known to have kept stacks of unendorsed paychecks in his apartment and continued driving his beat-up college car for years, though he was a multimillionaire.

The Oakland Raiders wished JaMarcus Russell hadn't pulled both hamstrings getting to his ATM everyday after they awarded him a $61 million-dollar deal, $32 million of it guaranteed. He was famous mostly for being overweight, sleeping through team meetings and his arrest for possession of codeine, for which he didn't have a prescription after the Raiders made him the first overall pick in 2007.

At least Russell played in 2007. Adam "Pacman" Jones missed that entire season and part of '08 as a Tennessee Titan for famously "making it rain" in a Las Vegas strip club with the $80,000 he brought in trash bags. But that's not why he was suspended. It was the shooting that left a man paralyzed stemming from Pacman's confrontation with a bouncer when dancers and patrons pocketed his money that he threw in the air, "making it rain," which he said was only for "visual effect." Brilliant.

Armed with teams of psychoanalysts and shrinks, you'd think it would be easy for teams to detect stupidity. The Golden State Warriors once drafted a phenom named Chris Washburn in the mid-'80s. He scored 420 on the SAT, using just 20 minutes to take the test because North Carolina State had already admitted him. He told friends it would've taken less time if he could've circled the answers rather than filling in the bubbles. Team officials had to have felt a little queasy when Washburn declared at his introductory press conference, "I just want to make the city of Golden State proud." Rut row.

Washburn blew through millions in drugs, cars, expensive homes, and legal and court fees.

Sadly, there are more Chris Washburns than Magic Johnsons and Junior Bridgemans. Magic, of course, headed a group that recently purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 billion. He improved his net worth after his playing days with savvy business decisions like building movie theaters in impoverished black neighborhoods and owning a load of Starbucks cafes nationwide.

Junior Bridgeman didn't have the career Magic had, which makes his post-NBA financial success even more impressive. He was a journeyman player for 12 seasons in the '70s and '80s for the Milwaukee Bucks and L.A. Clippers. As his NBA career was winding down in 1987, Bridgeman bought a Wendy's franchise to generate income while he planned his next career move. His only business experience came from being the treasurer for the players union for a few years during his career. Bridgeman learned the fast food business by working 12- 14-hour days flippin' burgers and working the cash register at the drive-through window. He flipped one store into two, then, three, four and five.

Today, Junior Bridgeman owns 161 Wendy's and 118 Chili's restaurants in five states, employs more than 11,000 managers, cashiers and cooks. Forbes estimates his net worth at $240 million, listing him among the top 20 richest black Americans.

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