This week several of the Washington Redskins players started receiving media attention – but not for their upcoming playoff game this Sunday against the Packers. No, this was about something off the field – something that flies in the face of how we think about football players (and professional athletes in general). You see these Redskins are saving their money for their futures. I mean REALLY saving their money.
“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,” Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins told the Wall Street Journal in an article that came out Tuesday. “You never know what’s going to happen so I try to put as much money away as I can.”
Cousins, who made $660,000 this season, and is due for a huge contract bump after leading the Skins to the NFC East title in this the final year of his current deal, drives a 16-year-old dented GMC Savana passenger van that originally belonged to his grandparents. “Maybe someday I’ll have enough saved and I’ll see what I can get,” said Cousins. “But it’s better to buy appreciating assets than depreciating. No yachts, no sports cars.”
Offensive lineman Tom Compton, who shared an apartment with Cousins for three years, said that thriftiness came easily for him, after working for minimum wage picking up golf balls while at Michigan State. “All you know is being frugal and it takes a little while to know you can spend a little more,” he said. “There are guys who take [saving money] to heart and try to live that frugal lifestyle.”
Legendary in the Redskins locker room is the time rookies Cousins and Compton took a garage-full of unwanted furniture from a teammate for their apartment — and moved it themselves rather than hiring movers.
“We were trying to save as much as we could, we had hand-me-down goods and we didn’t hire movers,” said Compton.“It was a hodge-podge of furniture, green couch, red chairs, a ton of fake trees throughout the house so there was sort of a jungle theme.” (Cousins said if he made the move today, he’d probably go nuts and hire movers).
But these two former roomies aren’t the only ones on the team that know the value of a dollar. Alfred Morris, a two-time pro-bowler at running back who made a base salary of $1.5 million this year, rides a bike to work. On days when the weather doesn’t allow for his two-wheeled mode of transportation, Morris drives his 1991 Mazda 626 – the same car he drove up from Florida as a rookie in 2012.
Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who recently signed a five-year, $57.5 million contract, still shares an apartment in suburban Virginia. He bunks with a childhood friend who now manages the Redskins website. The pair joke that the modest living quarters fulfills Kerrigan’s most important criteria – it’s within walking distance of Potbelly and Chipotle.
Knowing all too well about the short career trajectory of NFL players, the Redskins are a breath of fresh air in this world we live in of bankrupt ex-athletes. But with Cousins quickly approaching a new contract worthy of a division winning starting QB, things may change a bit in regards to his mode of transportation. “Maybe I can get something a little less old,” he said. “We’ll see.”