Fans might hear about superstar contracts and assume that anyone who plays in the NFL is set for life, but for most young players entering the league, football and financial success are not a given.
Ricky Seals-Jones is learning what it takes in real time.
When he was a junior at Texas A&M, Seals-Jones found himself facing a common question for college athletes: Should he play out his final season as an Aggie or take a chance on the pros? After a lot of prayer and discussion with friends and family, including his cousin, Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson, Seals-Jones elected to forgo his final year of eligible play and headed to the NFL draft.
But draft night 2017 came and went without his name being called, prompting a period of personal, athletic and monetary uncertainty. Signed to the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent, Seals-Jones relied on the help of a business manager, Gustavo "Goose" Miguel, to help him keep his finances in check as he worked his way up from the practice squad to the full-time roster. By staying on budget and growing his credit score from 580 to 730 since January, the rookie was well on his way to mastering his financial footing.
Seals-Jones' footwork on the field paid off as well.
In his first-ever career game, on Nov. 19, he scored two touchdowns and pulled in 54 yards from three catches against the Houston Texans. The Cardinals may have lost the game, but Seals-Jones won the attention, and respect, of the fans.