Power Players

NFL Hall-of-Famer Terrell Davis' money advice to young athletes: 'Write your own checks'

Terrell Davis
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

NFL Hall-of-Famer Terrell Davis has one piece of money advice for newbie athletes scoring big multi-million contracts: "Write your own checks."

"Don't have anybody writing your checks or paying your bills for you," Davis tells CNBC Make It.

Davis, who played for the Denver Broncos from 1995 to 2001, made roughly $19 million in salary and bonuses in his eight seasons in NFL, according to Sportrac, before retiring due to injury.

Davis says he himself made the mistake of letting people write checks for him during the height of his career, and now he urges young players to keep track off their own finances.

"[I] don't care how busy you get. You can never get too busy to write your own checks or pay your own bills," Davis says. "You've got to see what's coming in and what's going out."

Davis also urges young players not to take every deal that is offered to them.

"I'd look at a deal and if it was a good deal, I'd jump on it, and that didn't always work out. A couple of times, I've been in bad deals," he said. "I would just say to take more time. There's always going to be another that comes on the table."

Davis told CNBC in October that one of his biggest money mistakes was investing in a project in Atlanta (which he declined to name) before it was green-lighted by the city. It ended up floundering and he lost his entire investment.

"Really do your due diligence on things and make sure that it is what it is," Davis said. "There's a saying ... trust but verify."

There's a saying ... trust but verify.
Terrell Davis
former NFL running back

After Davis retired from the NFL in 2002, he struggled with both physical pain from his years as a running back ("I played football [almost] my entire life since I was 7 years old," Davis says), and emotionally.

"Your whole world is just turned upside down, and of course I struggled," he tells CNBC Make It.

But a year out of retirement, Davis started working as a commentator for the NFL Network and became a full-time analyst in 2009, which he says helped to "fill the void a little bit."

And coping with his joint pain lead Davis to start a new business. Davis helped to create Defy, a CBD-infused performance drink geared towards athletes that launched in May. The idea for Defy was born in 2017, when Davis first used hemp extract to recover after workouts and to ease his joint pain.

Davis says he now uses the same mentality that helped him excel as an athlete to help grow his his start-up.

"You've got to have the drive. You've got have goals. You've got to be able to take some risk."

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