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Riches of the NFL Can Tax Rookies

January 24, 2003|Sam Farmer

The NFL hosts a mandatory rookie symposium for its draft class each summer, a four-day event designed to educate newly minted pros on everything from crooked financial advisors to AIDS awareness, the pitfalls of fame to the sinister underworld of identity theft. Speakers include current and former players -- among them Marcellus Wiley -- who give first-hand accounts of what it's like to be a pro football player.

Last summer's symposium was held at the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad. The 262-member draft class was required to attend, and players were fined $10,000 for missing it. They were not allowed off the premises without permission, nor were they allowed to have visitors or drink alcohol.

The opening-night panel discussion, "Life as a Rookie," featured four second-year players. Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker Kendrell Bell spoke of the harsh realities of income tax. "I got a million-dollar signing bonus. But then I got the check, and it was only $624,000," he said. "I thought, 'Oh, well, I'll get the other half later.' Then I found out that's all there was. I thought, 'They can't do this to me.' Then I got on the Internet and I found out they can."

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