Life beyond the gridiron.
The Eagles’ Brandon Brooks has always loved numbers.
“Numbers just always made sense to me,” Brooks said. “It’s very black and white. It can only be one answer. That’s the biggest thing.”
While he’ll always be fond of the number 52 — the Super Bowl in which the Eagles defeated the Patriots — Brooks is more into numbers that perhaps not enough NFL players learn about until it’s too late.
Sports Illustrated estimated that 78 percent of NFL players either go bankrupt or are under financial stress within three years of being out of the league. Brooks is determined it won’t happen to him.
A Pro Bowl selection at guard during each of the past two seasons, Brooks was picked to Pro Bowl for the third straight season Tuesday night. Brooks is actively working on his financial future after football. He completed multiple finance-oriented internships in Houston — with Amegy Bank, Morgan Stanley and Kayne Anderson — while playing for the Texans, followed by additional internships in Philadelphia — at Susquehanna Bank and the City of Philadelphia Department of Revenue — since signing as a free agent with the Eagles in 2016.
After earning a bachelor’s in psychology at Miami of Ohio, Brooks began working toward a master’s in business administration with a concentration in finance at the University of Houston. Though his progress toward a master’s has stalled since becoming an Eagle due to logistics, Brooks took some classes at Penn’s famed Wharton School of Business.
“When you come into the league as a young guy, you have all this money and you don’t have any type of education in it,” said Brooks during a 1-on-1 interview at the NovaCare Complex. “I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing, reading my portfolio to see what’s going on.”
Though NFL players are much “more woke” to what happens with their money than they once were, as linebacker Nigel Bradham put it, Brooks’ depth of knowledge on the subject is impressive.
Brooks realizes that players sometimes don’t do enough research before investing in ill-advised businesses such as car washes and spend as if the money is just going to keep coming when the average career lasts just 3.3 years.
Teams typically only pay players for the 17 weeks of the regular season — though the Titans reportedly give the option of having their players’ checks spread out over 52 weeks, which is especially helpful for rookies — which compounds the importance of financial sensibility.
The 6-foot-5, 335-pound Brooks has done quite well both on the field and on pay day. He signed a five-year, $40 million free agent contract with the Eagles in 2016, then last month agreed to a four-year, $56 million extension (with $30 million guaranteed) that made him the league’s highest-paid guard.
His investments lean toward equities, especially private equity, and fixed income. He uses a financial planner, offering input based on his preferences, and plans to take more of a hands-on approach once he finishes his playing career.
Brooks is a voracious reader. Among the books that he enjoys discussing are Benjamin Graham’s “The Intelligent Investor,” which is about value investing, and Peter Thiel’s “Zero to One,” focusing on startups.
Brooks enjoys attempting to figure out how news events and government decisions affect stocks. For example, the Trump administration opting to revoke the phasing out of private companies running prisons resulted in Geo Group’s shares jumping 61% in the 14 months after the 2016 election and CoreCivic increasing 45%.
“If you knew that, you’d get in right before it happened,” Brooks said. “I like to check out different things like that.”
For Brooks, investing will eventually take the place of football, though right now he’s focused Sunday’s first-place date with the Cowboys. While the adrenaline rush isn’t the same as hearing the roar of 70,000 fans, there are some common threads.
“It’s always been kind of my double-edged sword, man. Whenever I’m into something, I’m all the way over the top,” he said, smiling. “It’s super-competitive. It’ll never be this, but the stakes are high.
“It’s not (the movie) ‘Wolf of Wall Street,’ but it’s not like straight, by the line every day. It has its similarities here and there. I just really enjoy it. It’s always something that kept me sharp on my toes.”
Brooks’ ultimate goal is to work in private equity for minority-based businesses, which is a relatively under-served area.
“I think they get 10 percent of all the funding out there,” Brooks said. “That would be an area where I can give back, be able to help some people out and get exposure.”
You can count on Brooks being well-informed and prepared once that time comes.
Tom Moore: email@example.com; @TomMoorePhilly