Jets Backup QB Bankrupt After Earning $50M in Career

Bad investmnents did in Mark Brunell

By Greg Wilson
|  Thursday, Nov 3, 2011  |  Updated 9:04 AM EDT
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Mark Brunell #8 of the New York Jets pass against the Buffalo Bills at New Meadowlands Stadium earlier this year.

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Jets backup quarterback Mark Brunell made the Pro Bowl three times and earned an estimated $50 million over his career, but bad investments have left the signal caller deep in debt.

At 41 and likely to call it quits at the end of the season, Brunell has dug himself a deep hole. He faces six lawsuits and claims of $25 million, according to ActionNewsJax.com.

The outlet said Brunell “sunk his fortune” into nine ill-fated businesses, including a real estate company and an investment in 12 Whataburger franchises in the Jacksonville area.

He's filed for bankruptcy and hopes to raise money by selling off property and football memorabilia, including a Super Bowl ring he won as a backup with the New Orleans Saints and a National Championship and two Rose Bowl rings from his days at University of Washington. His filing listed $5.5 million in assets and debts of $24.7 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Among the monthly expenses Brunell listed in his filing was a tithe to his church of 10 percent of whatever his income is at any given time.

Despite their outsize salaries, pro athletes often go broke when they venture into the business world. Former Packers offensive lineman Ken Ruettgers, a former teammate of Brunell's in Green Bay who now helps fellow retired players deal with their life after the NFL, told ActionNewsJax.com hard times often come after the cheering dies down.

“It’s something like 78 percent of former NFL players, two years after their last game are either bankrupt, divorced, or unemployed,” Ruettgers told ActionNewsJax.com.

Brunell has thrown for 184 touchdowns and more than 30,000 yards in his 19-year career, most of which was spent with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Quarterbacks who are often charismatic leaders and among the smartest players on their teams are no exception.

Former Cleveland Brown Bernie Kosar, who majored in finance at University of Miami and also earned millions in his pro career, also lost his fortune through bad investments. Kosar filed for bankruptcy in 2009, listing $9.2 million in assets and twice that amount in debts.

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