After nine seasons with the New England Patriots, NFL star Rob Gronkowski announced on Instagram that he has officially decided to retire from the game.
"It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true," he wrote, "and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far."
The superstar tight end was signed to a six-year, $54 million contract with the New England Patriots. Although he was one of the highest-paid tight ends in the league, the 29-year-old had not touched a dime of his NFL money. As he revealed in his 2015 book, "It's Good to Be Gronk," he lived off his endorsements instead.
Gronkowski, who teamed up with Honey Nut Cheerios for their Good Rewards program last year, says that as a veteran on his team, there is one piece of advice he would always gives his rookie teammates about managing their money.
"Financially, I just say: Keep it simple," he tells CNBC Make It.
Unlike many other professional leagues where athletes' contracts are fully guaranteed, NFL players' are not. That's why Gronkowski says he would always tell his young teammates to "get what you need to live comfortably but don't go crazy with splurging until you feel comfortable in the league."
When he got his first NFL paycheck, Gronkowski said he put it all in the bank. And he spent his endorsement money carefully too. It wasn't until recently, after eight seasons of being frugal, that he finally decided to splurge.
"When I signed my incentive deal last year, my friend had a chain and I was like, 'Dang, man, that's a nice chain,'" Gronkowski told entrepreneur Maverick Carter on an episode of UNINTERRUPTED's "Kneading Dough" last year. "I never had jewelry in my life. He let me wear it last year at a party and it made me feel good."
After a successful 2017 season that included a Super Bowl appearance, Gronkowski decided to treat himself and buy a nice chain.
"Now I know why people got jewelry," he told Carter. "Now I understand why."
Gronkowski wasn't the first or only well-paid NFL player to be open about his frugal spending habits. Minnesota Vikings star Kirk Cousins, who is the first quarterback to have a multi-year, fully guaranteed deal and so can count on $84 million coming his way, nonetheless drives a dented GMC Savana van that he purchased from his grandma for $5,000.
Cousins also revealed to GQ that, after being drafted into the league in 2012, he and his wife still spent their summers living in his parents' basement to save on housing costs.
In a 2016 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Cousins explained, "You don't know how long you're going to play. You've got to save every dollar even though you are making a good salary."
This a revised version of a previously published post.
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