Whether you loved him or hated him, it was impossible to ignore Terrell Owens. During his playing career, the wide receiver was both talented and entertaining; while he was able to pull in touchdown catches with ease, his end zone celebrations often stole the spotlight. In retirement, though, the receiver’s life has been much different.
Unfortunately, quite a few professional athletes have had financial issues after they retire; it seems that Terrell Owens is no different. A string of bad decisions apparently cost the receiver most of his $80 million net worth.
The rise and fall of Terrell Owens
Growing up, Terrell Owen’s favorite player was Jerry Rice. While he might not have known it at the time, T.O. was going to follow in his idol’s footsteps.
After playing football, running track, and playing basketball at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Owens entered the 1996 NFL draft. While he wasn’t a highly rated prospect, the San Francisco 49ers took a chance on the receiver in the third round.
Owens would make a name for himself in San Francisco, building a reputation as one of the NFL’s brightest young receivers. While he found individual success, however, the 49ers eventually started to struggle. Once things went south, Owens wanted out; while the divorce ended up getting somewhat messy, the receiver ultimately was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles.
T.O. played two seasons in Philadelphia before wearing out his welcome; he then joined up with the Dallas Cowboys, spending three solid seasons in Big D. In March 2009, though, Jerry Jones cut the receiver. Owens played two more seasons—one in Buffalo and another in Cincinnati—before calling it an NFL career. While he might not have been everyone’s cup of tea, the receiver still hauled in 1,078 catches for 15,934 yards and 153 total touchdowns over 15 professional seasons.
A string of bad decisions lead to bankruptcy
During his playing career, Terrell Owens earned just under $80 million. A string of bad decisions, however, cost him most of that fortune.
In a 2012 conversation with Nancy Haas of GQ, Owens detailed how everything went wrong. The receiver allowed financial advisors to handle his money; they apparently placed it in “risky, highly leveraged ventures” that didn’t pay off. Beyond that, nearly $300,000 was stolen from Owen’s bank account by an acquaintance. While he eventually got the money back, the receiver came away from the experience feeling like he couldn’t trust anyone.
T.O. also bought several houses and condos assuming that, in a worst-case scenario, he could rent them out. The 2008 financial crisis, however, meant that it wasn’t possible. Owens also invested in an Alabama casino, which was later deemed illegal by the state.
Owens was also on the hook for $44,600 a month in child support payments. While that sum is manageable for an NFL player, things are a bit different once you’re out of the league and have an estimated net worth of under $1 million.
Terrell Owens doesn’t regret one expense, though
Throughout his playing career, Terrell Owens was known as much for his touchdown celebrations as for his talent. Whether he was eating popcorn, autographing the game ball, practicing his miming in the endzone, the wide receiver’s antics were must-see TV.
The NFL, however, didn’t always appreciate his showmanship; according to NerdWallet, Owens received roughly $150,000 worth in fines during his playing career. That spending, though, doesn’t bother T.O.
“Oh yeah, it was worth it,” he explained. “That’s the least of my worries.”