NFL should help players understand finances: Former pro

Bankrupt ex-NFL players
Bankrupt ex-NFL players   

With nearly 16 percent of professional football players declaring bankruptcy within the first dozen years of retirement, the National Football League should do more to help players avoid going broke, former football pro Jon Najarian said Wednesday.

In fact, he believes all pro-sport leagues should do the same.

"If you sat down with any smart person and said here's how much you're going to have in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years down the road if you just put this much away now, without doing any crazy math you could, I think, impress upon them that they could hold on to that wealth and be much happier and richer," said Najarian, the co-founder of OptionMonster.com.

A new paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that almost 16 percent of NFL players drafted between 1996 and 2003 declared bankruptcy within 12 years of retirement.

Terrell Owens, when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals, looks on during a game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., in 2010.
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Terrell Owens, when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals, looks on during a game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., in 2010.

Six-time pro bowler Terrell Owens is the perfect example. After making an estimated $80 million during his 15-year career, he filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

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That said, Najarian doesn't think NFL players are different from anyone else who finds themselves with a lot of cash.

"Anybody who gets a windfall who's lucky enough to get that windfall, whether it's a lottery winner, 90 percent of them go through all the money in five years," he told CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Sports agent Deryk Gilmore believes it is important to educate players about their future after football. When heading into the NFL, many of them are only focused on playing ball and think they are untouchable, he said.

Read MoreExpect more early NFL retirements, says former player

"You don't always have that structure of guidance, originally, to go in and have a plan on how you're going to handle it. When you are coming from sometimes a struggling background, you get to that point where it's like, OK, I've got this, I spent it and there's no one to tell you no," he said in an interview with "Power Lunch."

That's why he has a program to help athletes plan for life after football, including prepping them for discussions with financial advisors and lawyers.

However, he disagrees with Najarian about the NFL, saying the league has done a good job of educating its players and has a lot of programs to help them.

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—CNBC's Tom Anderson and CNBC's Kerima Greene contributed to this report.