Going from college football to the NFL is a difficult transition for many athletes. We’ve heard several uplifting tales from former players about negative experiences early in their careers that shaped them the rest of the way. Former Jacksonville Jaguars star Fred Taylor is one of those guys.
The Jaguars drafted Taylor with the 9th overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft at the University of Florida. Even though the former Pro Bowler went on to have a successful pro career, there were several encounters that could have thrown him off course along the way.
Taylor recently shared how he lost nearly $3 million early in his career.
Fred Taylor admits he was duped by his first NFL agent
Fred Taylor has been one of the NFL’s most underrated running backs throughout his career. He’s also not getting his just due today. The Jacksonville Jaguars legend rushed for 11,695 yards and 66 touchdowns in 13 seasons.
As skilled as Taylor was on the football field, he wasn’t invincible off it. In a recent appearance on Bussin’ with the boysthe retired NFL star has shared a revealing story from his rookie year that cost him a lot of money.
“I chose my first agent primarily because he was black. I had the opportunity to accompany Leigh Steinberg. They courted me and tried to recruit me, but I refused. I don’t even regret it.
Taylor suggests that he chose his first agent, Tank Black, because he felt he could relate more to him on a personal level.
“He recruited me as a father figure,” Taylor added. “I got a $5 million signing bonus in 1998. It was huge. I had the potential to make about $16 million with my rookie deal. He took that check after I signed him. I signed up, and I remember seeing $2.8 million go into a bank account, and they took that money and put it into an offshore account, which eventually became a Ponzi scheme.
“They were giving me these window papers of what I was getting for the payback, which was about $30,000 a month. Fast forward, this ends up being a Ponzi scheme, total bulls***. My money has been frozen. I ended up getting about $2 million back. So I lost $300,000 plus any interest I could have earned.
The Ponzi scheme during his rookie season was not the only accident that had a significant impact on his life and football career.
After Taylor parted ways with his original agent, he teamed up with another financial adviser by the name of Jeff Rubin.
“I knew him from college and a lot of other guys knew Jeff,” Taylor said. “I was coming off a bad breakup, and he was the first to say, ‘Hey, I can do this, this, this and this.’ So I hired him in. Some early investments were very moderate, very conservative, mutual funds, easy stuff.
The former running back, however, suggests that things have started to deteriorate.
“He started shooting private equity deals. He put us in a casino in Alabama. I thought it was a good deal. It was a charity bingo operation. At the time, they were great in Alabama. They built the casino, and on our opening night, they looted it. They said it was an illegal operation. Bingo is a facade. I had $1.6 million in this case.
Taylor added that the casino had been closed and he was running out of money. As a result, the Jaguars star filed several lawsuits against the law firm and the bank.
“That was bad, man,” Taylor admitted. “I just dated bad people.”
Jaguars legend says young players can learn from his experience
While Fred Taylor started running and shone early in his NFL career, some of his choices off the field might have upset him.
The 46-year-old Florida native didn’t really understand what he was getting into, which put him in positions where people could take advantage of him. Despite the uncomfortable situations, Taylor is glad these things happened.
“I learned a valuable lesson,” Taylor said. “Things I can talk to my kids about, things I can talk about to young players. I can get into these speaking engagements and the Fortune 500 and tell their employees about it. Looking back, it’s a blessing in disguise. I learned a lot and I’m doing much better now.
Fred Taylor is a highly respected figure in NFL circles, and he uses its platform to ensure that current players and incoming youngsters don’t fall into the same traps that almost tripped him up.
All statistics courtesy of Professional Football Reference
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