Finding a place on an NFL roster and earning a long-term, big-money contract is the height of success in professional football. But for a college football star to land such a deal, they first have to make it through the NCAA. Along the way, they’ll make plenty of money—but all of it goes to their school.
Most universities make hundreds of millions from football programs, drawing revenue from sold-out stadiums, big-brand sponsorships, and broadcasting rights. Overseen by the NCAAF, college football programs also stand to make huge sums from bowl game fees and playoff/championship revenue.
From the outside looking in, college football is an ingrained part of local culture in many US regions. Diehard fans will reschedule major events around big games, and follow college football betting odds each day during the regular season to see how their team stacks up in the eyes of pundits and analysts. In other words, it’s a lifestyle.
For athletes, there’s nearly insurmountable pressure that comes with no salary and no guarantee at a long career in the NFL, CFL, or even XFL. Many walk away with a debtless college degree at best, no matter how hyped they are in the NFL draft (think: JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn) and no matter how much their university made on their talent.
Only elite players will be able to turn their college football career into a successful NFL run—and then roll that career over into another long-lasting and lucrative venture. Up to 23% of all retired NFL players own small businesses, according to a LinkedIn study. But which former NCAA stars have made millions post-football?
Actor / Net worth of $25 million
Terry Crews’ post-NFL career has been so successful that few realize the actor was once a defensive end and linebacker. In the early 90s, Crews bounced around from team to team until calling it quits after a run with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1996.
Before that, Crews was a star player for Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. He received an athletic scholarship to play for the Broncos football program. There, he earned All-Conference honors and helped lead the team to a Mid-American Conference Championship in 1988.
TV host & investor / Net worth of $4 million
Prior to joining the Giants in 2000, linebacker Dhani Jones played for the University of Michigan. With the Wolverines, he was named an All-Big Ten player three years. In 1997, he helped lead the squad to a National Championship alongside Heisman Trophy recipient Charles Woodson.
Following a ten-year stint in the NFL, which ended in 2010, Jones joined the Travel Channel to create Dhani Tackles the Globe. The series saw Jones try out new sports around the world. From there, he moved on to CNBC show Adventure Capitalists, where Jones and other investors listen to pitches from a range of entrepreneurs.
Sports Marketing / Net Worth of $12 million
Though most football fans won’t recognize Warren Moon’s name today, he was one of the premier quarterback recruits heading into the NFL in the late 1970s. During his time with the University of Washington, Moon led the Huskies to a conference title and a Rose Bowl win in 1977, for which he earned an MVP award.
Since retiring from the NFL in 2000, Moon has stayed out of the spotlight. Instead, he stays behind the scenes, working as president of the Sports 1 Marketing firm and The Crescent Moon Foundation.
TV Host / Net Worth of $65 million
Before he became one of America’s sweethearts, Michael Strahan was a defensive end for Texas Southern University. During his time with the Tigers, Strahan nabbed All-America first-team honors, Division I-AA Defensive Player of the Year award, and a First Team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference award for two seasons.
Following a successful 14-year career with the Giants, Strahan opted for daytime talk show and analysts positions. He’s appeared on Fox NFL Sunday, Live! with Kelly and Michael, and Good Morning America. He’s earned two Daytime Emmy Awards for his work, cementing himself as one of America’s most beloved talk show hosts.
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