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How do you talk to an NFL player about money? With a bit of humor and competitiveness.

The Monroe on a Budget column runs Tuesdays in The Monroe Evening News. Here is this week’s installment:

If the life of a professional football player sounds glamorous and exciting, consider the fact that the athletes have no paychecks for two-thirds of the year.

Could you manage that roller coaster of finances? And further knowing that after three to four years, that income source would gone as your sports career would likely have come to a halt through injuries or lack of an offer?

The game of finance has resulted in so many fumbled passes that the National Football League Players Association has taken action. The association partnered in 2009 with Financial Finesse, a workplace financial education program, to bring personal finance education to NFL players and their families in hopes of improving their financial prospects during the football years and beyond.

The partnership launched about the time that a labor dispute between the players and owners was brewing, and the association wanted its members to be prepared for the potential of lost income. The 2011 lockout did result in cancellation of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, although the rest of that season took place.

Last week, Dana Hammonds, director of player affairs and development for the association, was featured in a webcast that explained the success of the campaign, and also share some lessons that have been learned in working with professional athletes and a young adult audience.

“We really wanted the guys to buy into this,” she said about the financial literacy campaign.

The campaign leaders were pleased to learn that 48 percent of the players saved 20 percent or more of their income during the time when a work stoppage seemed likely.

So how did financial experts get the attention of football players?

In an attempt to appeal to a young adult generation that likes information in quick bites, the project’s online library, called the Financial Learning Center, was organized by life scenarios such as getting married or selling a house.

The campaign also fed into the competitive atmosphere of the football environment. One contest invited the men to write about what they would do with $54,896. That seemingly random sum was picked after a story broke the sports headlines in 2010 when a Dallas Cowboys rookie was stuck by his teammates with that much of a dinner and bar tab.

Another interactive component was a checklist called “Your lockout preparedness score.”

The financial partnership also used humor to emphasize the need for savings. One poster that was placed in the locker rooms showed a picture of an empty roll of toilet paper. “Don’t get caught empty handed,” was the message.

The newest piece of this campaign is called the Financial Helpline, a service meant to provide expert advice when the members have financial questions beyond the routine. The poster promoting the hotline showed an attractive woman pretending to hold a phone and saying “call me.” The poster then said, “You probably get a lot of numbers. This is one you’ll want to hold on to.”

Readers may contact Paula Wethington at paula@monroenews.com or (734) 240-5745.

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