One of the smartest things he did was find a Merrill Lynch adviser through the Cleveland Browns player-development program, and the adviser helped keep him from making dumb decisions early in his career.
A friend later introduced him to Allan Boomer, who was vice president in the Goldman Sachs private wealth-management group at the time. Bodden stayed with Boomer even after Boomer left Goldman to run his own wealth-management firm.
Bodden had some big paydays. Here’s a taste: In 2008, he made $2.7 million with Detroit. The next year, he earned $2.25 million with New England. And in 2010, he signed a four-year, $22 million contract with New England. He earned $14 million of the $22 million the first two years, then left the game after the 2011 season because of back injuries.
He lived far beneath his means for most of that career, he said. He would deposit the lion’s share of every paycheck, whether it was $7,000 or $200,000 a week, after tax, into his savings account.
“When I got paid, I put all my money away. I lived very comfortably on a fraction of it. I only used my American Express card for pretty much everything.” He even maxed out in his 401(k), which now is around $300,000.
He said he remembers one teammate on the Cleveland Browns advising him to pay off all his debts by the time he retired, so Bodden paid off his $1.1 million house in Bowie and bought his mother a $500,000 house.
His indulgence? A fleet of cars, including a $120,000 Bentley, a 2010 GMC Yukon Denali and a 2006 Range Rover. He also bought a Hyundai Sonata for his girlfriend.
Bodden said he was mindful that the average NFL career is only slightly over three years (the NFL says it’s around six), so he wanted to leave with something other than just bruises once he retired.
“Most people are just starting at that age,” he said. “I just thought, ‘This was going to be over, and what am I going to do after that?’ ”
He discussed his idea for the Retro Fitness investment in detail with Boomer.
“We didn’t want to invest more than 10 percent of my net worth,” Bodden said. “If it fails, I am only out of 10 percent of my wealth. If I lose it, I will be mad. But it won’t be the end of the world.”
One refrain among NFL players is that they sacrifice their body and mind for a paycheck.
Bodden got a paycheck, but he got a life after football as well.