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Teaching Athletes Not to Drop the Ball on Their Finances

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Why you should care

Because with great finances comes great responsibility.

As it turns out, money can buy happiness, just not in the ways you might think. This is “More of What You Love,” a collaboration between OZY and Ally Financial to highlight the people who are not only doing good business but also doing what they love and finding innovative ways to fund their passion projects.

You can’t play football forever. Kaleb Thornhill saw many of his former college teammates struggling to transition to the real world after their playing careers ended. But Thornhill also saw an opportunity to help an underserved population.

“Most of the rookies that come into the NFL don’t come in with a lot of financial education,” he says.

It’s not just about [the players]. It’s about legacy, and getting them to understand the long-term game.

Thornhill, director of player engagement for the Miami Dolphins, founded a company called Athlete Transition U to prepare professional athletes for their next calling and purpose in life. Step one for players is taking a financial self-inventory and then learning about credit scores, how to budget and how to live the way they want to without having to keep up with the spending habits of those around them.

NFL athletes can accomplish much more than just managing their finances, Thornhill notes — they can serve their communities as well, in ways big and small. “It’s not just about them,” he says. “It’s about legacy, and getting them to understand the long-term game.”

As professional football players, the athletes are pretty good at understanding how to play the game, as long as they have the resources to help them master the rules.

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