Notorious B.I.G. once rhymed, "There’s rules to this stuff. I wrote me a manual." Though it applied to a different type of game, Christopher Wallace was on to something. Now that the 2012 NFL Draft is over, many players will need a guide to keep them out of the gossip blogs, tabloids, and bankruptcy courts. We’ve seen so many athletes come into the NFL broke and leave in the same way. It’s a cycle we must stop. So, before these athletes get caught up, perhaps they should read <strong>The Five Draft Commandments</strong>. (What!) <em>—Christian Law</em>
<em><strong>Left, 2012 NFL First-round draft pick Fletcher Cox of the Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Hunter Martin/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty Images)</strong></em>
<strong>1. NEVER TRUST NOBODY (YOU JUST MET IN THE CLUB): </strong>“She said she loves me for me, not my money.” Don’t get fooled. Chances are, she’s a bigger fan than your Mom. She knows all your stats and has known for a while. As a new athlete, you are going to get the most play you’ve ever gotten (and I don’t mean on the field). Don’t wife a girl you just met at the draft party and certainly do not go into the bedroom without your helmet! Avoid the baby mama, child support drama that players like Terrell Owens and Antonio Cromartie have to face. Owens has major financial problems after being ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in child support for his kids, some by women he admitted to <a href="http://gossiponthis.com/2012/01/26/terrell-owens-talks-baby-mama-drama-being-broke-unemployed-attempting-suicide-gq-magazine/" target="_blank"><strong>never having seriously dated</strong></a>. And Cromartie, at only 28, has fathered 10 kids with 8 different women and <a href="http://necolebitchie.com/2012/04/16/nfl-baller-antonio-cromartie-10-kids-8-baby-mamas-wife-responds-to-reports-of-a-reality-show/" target="_blank"><strong>pays a reported $3,500 a month in child support</strong></a>.
<strong>2. NEVER GO FOR BROKE: </strong>It's not a good idea to spend a majority of your earnings on material things. Remember, you are always one play and/or injury away from ending your career. You can’t pay a mortgage with “He had potential.” The material things only get better with time so don’t waste all your money today to get what will be less than tomorrow. <a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2012/02/17/anthony-simmons-franchise-investors-show-prepares-athletes-for-success-post-retirement/"><strong>Map out your financial plan</strong></a> now and stick to it, so that when the checks stop coming in you won't be stuck between a rock and a hard place. You don't want to end up like<a href="http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/?controllerName=search&action=search&channel=news&search=1&inlineLink=1&query=%22Frank+Middleton%22"> </a>former Oakland Raiders baller Frank Middleton, who after earning $21 million during his NFL career lost millions <a href="http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/news/article/The-cost-of-a-career-NFL-players-and-bankruptcy-3512872.php" target="_blank"><strong>after costly mistakes he made early,</strong></a> or former Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Warren Sapp, who <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/story/2012-04-07/warren-sapp-bankruptcy-florida/54097296/1" target="_blank"><strong>owes more than $6.7 million</strong></a> to creditors for back child support and alimony. (His assets reportedly include 240 pairs of Jordan athletic shoes worth almost $6,500, a $2,250 watch and a lion skin rug worth $1,200.)
<strong>3. NEVER LET 'EM KNOW YOUR NEXT <del>TWEET </del>MOVE: </strong>Social media is great, however you are a public figure now. Everything you do will be seen. Your follower number count just went up and not because they really loved the link of your homeboy’s Soundcloud page. People are going to be watching your every tweet and your brand reputation can be affected greatly by what you expose (which in turn affects those big-buck endorsements). Keep some things private, including your pictures. The last thing your career needs is your private practice streamed across the timeline of thousands. (Just look at Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Dezmon Briscoe, whose <a href="http://theurbandaily.com/1917256/royce-reed-addresses-break-up-exs-baby-momma-in-blog/" target="_blank"><strong>messy relationship</strong></a> with reality star <a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2012/02/27/basketball-wives-royce-reed-off-broadway-play/"><strong>Royce Reed</strong></a> was broadcast for all to see— sordid "cheating" pics and all — via Twitter.)
<strong>4. NEVER GO IT ALONE: </strong>Mentorship is an important part of any new job. Regardless of how much you make, you need someone who is better at the job and who has done it longer to guide you. Partner up with a veteran in the league who can show you the ropes and whose mistakes you can learn from. Many veteran football players have <a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/11/21/former-nfl-player-frank-rice-franchising-success/"><strong>gone on to success in business </strong></a>after the game is over, which is key for longevity and prosperity. Take a page from former New England Patriots player Jarvis Green, co-owner of commercial construction business First Millennium Construction,<a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2012/04/01/the-game-plan/"><strong> </strong></a> or former Dallas Cowboys baller Emmitt Smith, president & CEO of his own namesake company that includes construction, brand marketing and charities.
<strong>5. NEVER GET FLY ON YOUR SUPPLY: </strong>We get it. Your grandmother bought that shirt and tie in a box from Conway, and it’ll mean a lot to her for your to wear it. But, don’t. I know, you think you’re so fly you don’t need a stylist, but judging from the fashion displayed on Draft Day this weekend, a few words of advice: Don’t quit your day job. One of the biggest pitfalls of athletes is style, which can be a first impression make or break for your branded image, from the dad Jeans of Michael Jordan to the horrible colored, 80-button suits of Deion Sanders. JUST DON’T DO IT. Hire yourself a stylist and save us and yourself the embarrassment.