Eugene Profit and Derek Sanderson traveled different roads during their professional sports careers, but both ended up in the money management business.
Mr. Profit graduated from Yale University. He played pro football for five years, but always planned on a financial services career. Mr. Sanderson always planned on a pro hockey career. He played 13 seasons and played on two Stanley Cup title-winning teams. Only after retiring broke did he learn the business of money management.
Despite their disparate backgrounds, one-time pro athletes are scattered throughout the money management business, and whatever their reasons for choosing this career, their presence sometimes makes money management look like a who's who of former pro players.
Mr. Profit said he never planned on making football his primary job. He interviewed with Wall Street firms as he tried out for cornerback with pro teams.
Determined to pursue what he calls his "real life's work," the Los Angeles native chose the New England Patriots in 1986 based in part on the team's proximity to financial services firms in Boston and New York.
When a hamstring injury ended his athletic career four years later, "I was able to go about my real life's work," Mr. Profit said. "No matter who you are as an athlete, your career is over in your 30s. Hopefully you'll live another 40 or 50 years, so you certainly need something else to do when you stop playing."
Mr. Profit now runs Profit Investment Management LLC, Silver Springs, Md. The firm manages $110 million in large-cap value equities for mostly institutional clients.
Someone once told Mr. Profit he was a better money manager than a football player. Initially offended, he thought about it for a moment and decided that person was right. "I'm probably in the top 1% or 5% of money managers. I certainly wasn't the best player on my team."
Mr. Sanderson played hockey for 13 years and was named the National Hockey League's Rookie of the Year for the 1967-'68 season with the Boston Bruins.
In 1972, Mr. Sanderson went to court for the right to earn compensation for free agency - a first for a player. He won, and signed a $2.7 million contract to play for the Philadelphia Blazers of the World Hockey Association. At the time, it was the biggest individual sports contract ever.
But he signed away power of attorney, and said unscrupulous business advisers made a series of bad investments on his behalf. That, combined with an addiction to alcohol, ate up just about every penny he made as a hockey player.
After retiring in 1978, Mr. Sanderson got his broker's license and started learning the business - and he started to realize the things he was learning about managing wealth were things every athlete should know.
Today he directs The Professionals Group at State Street Global Advisors in Boston, where he passes on the lessons he and his peers learned the hard way about managing their money, their careers and their lives. "My goal is to have every athlete in the world fully educated and responsible for his investments," Mr. Sanderson said.
Today, the Professionals Group at SSgA consults with 100 pro athletes, including hockey players, NASCAR drivers and tennis players.
Mr. Fencik said athletes are attracted to the asset management business because it offers the chance for quick advancement - which can be important to men starting second careers in their 30s - and because beating the market from time to time fuels the same competitive drive they experienced on the field.
"In retrospect, there were many more similarities (between football and money management) than I realized," he said. "The whole goal orientation is similar, and it's a very competitive environment. In football, it's a transparent process as to whether you're successful or not, both as an individual and as a team. Similar results can be measured in business. It's not always as transparent, but it becomes evident who the winners and losers are."
After graduating from Yale University in 1976, Mr. Fencik was drafted by the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins cut him before the season, and the Bears brought him to Chicago. Mr. Fencik is considered by many to be the best safety in Bears history, but he always realized football wouldn't last. In 1985, after nine years in the league and eight months before he would win a Super Bowl ring, Mr. Fencik graduated from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management with a master's in business administration focusing on finance and marketing.
He wound up working for Brinson Partners, Chicago. Today he is a partner in Adams Street Partners, also in Chicago, a Brinson spinoff focusing on private equity. There he does business development and client servicing for about $5 billion in mostly institutional business.
John A. Hannah
Mr. Hannah built a Hall of Fame career as a left guard for the New England Patriots. In 1981, Sports Illustrated magazine labeled him the best offensive lineman of all time.
While he was still playing, Mr. Hannah attended an investing seminar and started investing in mutual funds. He did some consulting work during the off season and, after he retired in 1986 after the Super Bowl, Mr. Hannah decided to open his own consulting business.
"We started with three clients and $37 million," he said.
By 1996, The Hannah Group had 30 clients with about $3 billion in assets. At that point, Mr. Hannah decided to sell his firm to Advest Inc., Hartford, Conn., believing that joining with a larger company would allow his group to retain its independence and expand faster. Without going into detail, Mr. Hannah said it didn't work out that way.
"It's the curse of the athlete," he said. "If you have any name recognition, all people want to hire you for is your name recognition, not for what you really want to do."
Mr. Hannah now manages private investment accounts for First Union Securities in Andover, Mass. He manages about $25 million in assets for some institutional clients but primarily for individuals. His strategy focuses on small-cap stocks and is not pure growth, "but it leans that way," he said.
"The fun part of it is trying to beat the market on a daily basis," Mr. Hannah said. "It's very competitive."
Mr. Lanier has been retired from football for longer than he played the game. As a capital markets liaison for First Union Securities in Richmond, Va., which has $80 million in assets under management, mostly for individuals, he knows his days as a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs are sometimes what makes his phone ring.
"The brand I have from that, I have in this business," Mr. Lanier said. "I could have been in this business all along, but without my brand, you wouldn't have known to call me. I haven't played since 1977, and you still called."
During his 10-year career, Mr. Lanier was known for his hard hits and his speed. But Mr. Lanier spent the off season putting his business administration degree to work. By age 26, he was a licensed broker with PaineWebber Inc.
At 32, with a Super Bowl ring on his finger, he retired. "Somewhere in my mind, it was time to get on with the serious work of life," he said.
Nothing in money management compares to football, he said, and that's fine. "It's a three-hour game. When it's over, you won or lost. This business is long-term."
As a boy growing up in Pennsylvania, and even in college at Penn State University, Mr. McCloskey always hoped for a National Football League career - but he never expected to have one. So the five years he spent playing for the Houston Oilers and Philadelphia Eagles were nice, but when they were over, they were over.
Mr. McCloskey's pro career was spent mainly as a backup; he admits he "didn't have a lot of career highs," and the teams he played on all had losing records.
"From that standpoint, it wasn't difficult to move on," he said.
After being cut by the Oilers in 1987 and the Eagles in 1988, Mr. McCloskey sensed his pro football career was over. After a six-month training program, he began a career in money management at Travelers Group Inc. in Philadelphia and in 1997 helped start Chartwell Investment Partners, Berwyn, Pa., where he works as managing director in charge of marketing and client service. The firm has 150 institutional and subadvisory relationships and manages $5.5 billion in assets, all for institutional clients.
Although he initially considered studying to be a lawyer or heading off to Washington to get involved in politics, Wall Street snagged Mr. Spagnola's attention instead.
He spent parts of three years working at New York-based First Boston Corp. in a backup institutional sales and trading capacity, because the football season prevented him from handling his own full-time accounts.
After playing with the Philadelphia Eagles for nine years, Mr. Spagnola spent his last two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers, retiring in 1988.
Today he is president of Spagnola-Cosack Inc., Port Washington, Pa., a consultant to institutional investors with about $4 billion in assets under management.
Mr. Spagnola took his football career one year at a time, always staying aware of what else was out there. He does the same thing today. "I never take anything for granted," he said.