The reports about pressure on Cowboys lineman Tyron Smith to give money to family members, reaching the stage of 911 calls, resonated with me. In 25 years around professional athletes, as a player agent and a team executive, I learned that such situations are more prevalent than most people realize and have no easy answers.
The recent ESPN 30 for 30 film "Broke" detailed athletes' reckless spending and financial problems later in life. It gave a glimpse of some of the factors pulling on a player's portfolio. The Smith story provides another look into the underbelly of this issue.
Behind many players is what I call the "whisper crew" -- a group whispering to the player what he wants to hear instead of what he needs to hear. It usually consists of hometown friends, former high school or college teammates and all types of "advisers," but the one constant is family. Often one family member is doing most of the whispering, sometimes with the insidious role of pulling at the player's purse strings while stroking his ego and insecurities.
The more extended family in the crew, the more I worried. Although this is hardly statistically sound data, I always count the number of the people in a player's picture at the draft taken right after he is selected. The more people in that picture, the more I worry about the financial future of that player, because many of those people will be on his payroll.
Click here to read more about why it's so hard for NFL players -- and teams -- to handle problems with family.