A retired NBA player made a wise investment that made millions for him years after his time spent in the NBA. Ulysses Lee “Junior” Bridgeman has demonstrated smart wealth building tactics that built his personal net worth to $400 million. He was born in Chicago where he played basketball all through his high school years. He continued playing basketball throughout college at the University of Louisville, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree.

Bridgeman was drafted by the Lakers in 1975, and he ended up being traded soon after to the Milwaukee Bucks. During his NBA career players didn’t have multi-million dollar NBA player contracts. Most of the players that made a lot of money received fortunes from endorsement deals. In 1985 Bridgeman’s peak salary was $350,000 during the time he played for the Clippers.

During the off seasons, Bridgeman started to plan for his future by learning the Wendy’s franchise business. He spent a lot of his time working at a local Wendy’s to learn the true culture of the company. At the end of his NBA career, Bridgeman owned three Wendy’s, and now he has over 160 locations. He also invested in the Chili’s franchise, owning more than 120 in America today.

Bridgeman is now the second largest Wendy’s franchise owner in the world. His contribution to his family started with his passion for basketball that transformed smart investments to immense wealth. Brickman has been married for 35 years showing his commitment to family and success.  All three of his children have MBAs and are contributors to the family business. His success is measurable and proactively engaging to all that has seen his progressive growth. He took the hand that was dealt to him and made good choices that resulted in major accomplishments.

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Across the board, NFL players get the short end of the stick when it comes to being paid for unreal athletic performance. Their contracts are largely unguaranteed, their career windows are short — probably because playing in a football game, even at a level below the NFL, is comparable to  a car accident — and their endorsement opportunities are generally slim. Unless you’re one of the guys who gets corralled by reporters after the game, there’s a good chance that you can take off the pads, helmet, and jersey and slip out into the night unnoticed. Aside from your general size, that’s it.

But some of them are able to bankroll their fame and (relative) fortune into more fortune, and sometimes even more fame. From licensing deals to owning franchises to eventually owning an NFL team, à la the late Al Davis. The money’s out there if the player is savvy enough to seek it out — and they don’t succumb to CTE first.

Here’s seven of the savviest NFL players, both past and present — the guys who have been able to take their athletic acumen and turn it into continued financial success. This information was collected from Celebrity Net Worth.

7. Joe Montana — $80 Million

Joe Cool, the Comeback Kid, was the 7th Wealthiest NFL athlete. Not a bad list of nicknames and titles for Mr. Montana, who played in the National Football League for 15 years, starting in 1979 and wrapping it up in 1994. Montana, who gained his sports immortality as the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, is still the only player in NFL history to have been named Super Bowl MVP on three separate occasions.

The first player to make more than $3 million a season — he broke that door down in 1990 – the Comeback Kid would earn a staggering (for 1990) $13 million over four years. Bird Legs would parlay his on the field success into a partnership with a Northern California vineyard, and started producing his own style of wine, named Montagia, in 2011.

6. Brett Favre — $100 Millon

‘Hi, I’m Brett Favre, former NFL Quarterback. You’ve probably seen me in advertisements endorsing Levi Jeans, Nike everything, and Sears, to name most of the things I endorse. Perhaps you may have seen me with the Green Bay Packers, or perhaps you saw my numerous flirtations with retirement before finally signing off from the game in 2011.’

Favre, the first player in the NFL to sign a $100 million dollar contract — rather, it was a “lifetime” contract extension signed with the Green Bay Packers in 2001 — was the only player to win the regular season MVP three times in a row. He also holds League records for passing touchdowns, passing yards, attempts, interceptions, and all time wins. He would ultimately play for the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings (and almost the St. Louis Rams, according to both parties, in 2013.) At least Favre seems at ease with his retirement now, and can even joke about it when his still-sponsor Nike needs to film a new commercial.

5. Tom Brady — $120 Million

There used to be a massive poster of Tom Brady modelling UGG boots on Brookline Ave near Kenmore Square, overlooking Fenway Park and I-90. It may still be there, but in case it isn’t — it was probably 200 feet tall. It featured Tom Brady, NFL Quarterback for the New England Patriots, standing contrapposto inside a pair of rather unattractive boots. Brady probably got paid very well for that ad campaign, one of his many dalliances with sponsorships and extracurricular fiscal opportunities that have made up his career.

The quarterback, who has won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, his career-long team, also has endorsement arrangements with Under Armor, and has previously been engaged with SmartWater, Visa, and Movado. His on the field performance has lead him to some pretty lucrative income from the NFL, too; last year, Brady restructured his contract to be more friendly to the Patriots’ salary cap space, and still pulled in $27 million in additional income. He had previously signed a $72 million dollar deal in 2011. Brady’s definitely not hurting for money. But still, that UGGs advert series is pretty goofy.

4. John Elway — $145 Million

John Elway — former quarterback (there’s a trend here somewhere) for the Denver Broncos and current General Manager for the same Mile High football team — has diversified himself well beyond his Hall of Fame career as a game manager. Elway, who led his teams to five Super Bowls over the 15 years he played in Denver, has diversified his business well beyond the sport that brought him into the position he’s in, even if he hasn’t left it.

As the owner of a pair of restaurants — named, go figure, Elway’s — and a handful of car dealerships, Elway also owned an Arena Football League team, the Denver Crush, back when arena football was still a thing (the team folded in 2008.) The quarterback, arguably most famous for being the engine behind ‘The Drive,’ a 98-yard march down the field in the 1986 AFC Championship that helped the Broncos emerge victorious over the Cleveland Browns.

3. Peyton Manning — $165 Million

If this was a list of which NFL athletes have said “yes” to the most endorsements — were that information available in an easy-to-digest, public-access format — it would have to be titled ‘The Peyton Manning Guide to NFL Money.’ One, because he’s the figurehead of the NFL-endorser, and two, because he’d almost certainly agree to have it bear his likeness in exchange for fiscal compensation. That’s not a knock on Manning at all; in fact, it would be silly to say that it denigrates his on-field acumen at all, but it is a thing that is recognized by people who watch football.

Peyton Manning, apparently, loves being in advertisements. He’ll sell you Papa John’s. He’ll sell you Buicks. He’ll sell you Gatorade and he’ll even sell you Direct TV. After making over $90 million with the Indianapolis Colts, Manning took a year off to rehab himself from serious neck surgery and was waived by the club. So, he promptly signed a 5-year deal for an additional $96M with the Denver Broncos, and he’s the best regular season quarterback in the NFL, so it’s not a bad investment.

It doesn’t have anything on his advertiments, though. When some intrepid Internet user can come up with a best of that is still essential despite being made before some new-classic entries, you know Manning’s the best endorser in NFL history.

2. John Madden — $200 Million

Did you know John Madden was an NFL coach? It’s true! Did you know John Madden was an NFL commentator? Also true! Did you know that somewhere out there there are vast swaths of football fans that don’t think of either of those things when you say the word ‘Madden’?

To legions of fans that were too young to see Madden do, well, anything in the world of real football, his surname evokes hours upon hours of digital football. Madden signed on to endorse Electronic Arts’ NFL video game all the way back in 1988. It was John Madden Football. The series became Madden NFL in 1994. Feel old yet? Back then, there was no way the sportscaster could’ve forseen the behemoth that the franchise would become. The latest iteration, Madden NFL 25, had down sales compared to Madden ’13and still sold 1 million copies it’s first week. As of 2010, the franchise had sold over 85 million copies, according to ESPN. It is a cash cow.

1. Roger Staubach — $600 Million

What is a Roger Staubach, and why is it worth so much money? A Roger Staubach is a former NFL quarterback (to the shock of absolutely no one) who was good at football, leading the Cowboys to a pair of Super Bowl victories, winning an MVP, and being a six-time Pro Bowler. Staubach, who worked as a real estate broker during the off seasons, because “I was 27 and we had three children,” the mogul told Forbes.“If I got hurt, I knew I had a family to provide for, and it was not crazy money in the NFL then.”

Shortly after his 1979 retirement, Staubach began expanding his real estate company. It grew so large and so successful that Staubach was able to sell the company to Jones Lang Lasalle in 2008 for $640 million dollars. According to Forbes, Staubach had only owned 12 percent of the company when he sold it, having given out equity to his employees as the company grew. So, in addition to being the richest NFL athlete ever, he’s also a pretty nice dude.

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