If a list came out of NFL players who were most frugal, newly signed San Francisco 49ers running back Alfred Morris probably would be on the top-end of that list. We all know the story of his 1991 Mazda 626, which he’s had since college. Morris still has the car, though he’s gotten a Subaru to go along with it as he wasn’t sure Bentley (the name of the Mazda) could make the trip to the Bay Area.
Morris was a guest on Matt Maiocco’s 49ers Insider Podcast and of course the Mazda got brought up, but also the number of NFL players who find themselves bankrupt. Morris was able to break down the contracts of NFL players that while large, can deteriorate rather quickly.
“First of all, not everybody in the NFL is a millionaire. My first four years on a rookie contract, people think I made more money. No, my first contract I made $390,000. Am I complaining about that? No. It’s better than a lot of 9-5’s out there, but at the same time, it’s not much money. Just because you give somebody a bunch of money doesn’t mean they know how to manage it. That’s why I feel like we need more programs to teach these guys how to manage money. I think of the saying, ‘lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.’ You can give these guys all these money, that doesn’t mean they can make the right decisions. A lot of them don’t know. A lot of these guys who play in the NFL grew up in poverty. To give somebody who has the same mindset when they were broke all of this money, of course they are going to end up back where they started at.”
Morris later broke down just how quickly the money can go, with taking care of family, protecting your home and other things. While the $390,000 Morris made on his first contract is a nice chunk of change, after you factor in taxes and insurance, that number goes down quite a bit. It’s still large, but it won’t be there forever and if a player manages to crack a million from playing, they still need to put that away for the rest of their lives as it can quickly go down.
The NFL does try to gloss over managing money with the rookies, but there’s never been any significant programs to help players manage the income they generate on the field, and that’s a definite problem.
One thing is for certain, Morris probably will have some money leftover. Considering he signed a $3.5 million deal with the Cowboys that he played out, and he’s still driving a car made in the 1990s, he’s one of the more well documented frugal players out there.
I’ve timestamped the entire interview Morris had with Maiocco. You can listen to the interview by clicking the widget above or go here if you can’t see it.
00:34 - When he arrived in Houston to sign the contract
01:00 - Not knowing where’d he go in free agency/moments leading up to the contract
02:54 - What Mike and Kyle Shanahan did to have him flourish his first two years
04:30 - What distinguishes 49ers running back coach Bobby Turner from other coaches
06:21 - How does Shanahan’s office fit Morris
07:45 - What it was like returning to familiar coaches
09:00 - On the ‘opportunity’
09:51 - Thoughts on Matt Breida/Jerick McKinnon and the running back room
11:19 - Any chips on his shoulder
12:14 - The story of the 1991 Mazda
15:33 - His background
17:30 - Thoughts on a SI study on former NFL players going bankrupt
19:00 - The misconception of the amount of money with NFL contracts