Representation is just the first step for players in securing big money. Financial advisors and wealth managers are needed to keep that money flowing. For pro athletes, this can be a financial make-or-break once they get on the field—and then off it for good.
The NFL Players Association established a financial advisor program a decade ago. The program has its own advisor accreditation requirements in order to offer players the chance to steer away from "poor financial advice, but also from outright fraud." Advisors who want to be listed pay an application and membership fee of $2,500 (the fees offset the cost of the program's operation). The NFL Players Association makes clear that it does not endorse the financial advisors on the program roster and is not responsible for the "skill, honesty, or competence" of any persons involved.
Read MoreAdvisors feel pressure to specialize
But even with good intentions, things still go wrong.
In 2008, hedge fund manager Kirk Wright committed suicide in an Atlanta jail cell. He was found guilty of fraud and laundering $150 million dollars' worth of client's money—several were former NFL players.
Two years earlier, while Wright was awaiting trial, the former players decided to sue both the NFL and the Players Association. The former players accused the organizations of allowing Wright on the list of approved financial advisors, despite the fact that he had liens filed against him and without performing background checks.
In 2006, Jim Evangelista, a lawyer representing the former players, explained his clients' positions to CNBC's Melissa Lee.