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Mark Clayton

By Jenni Carlson Published: April 25, 2008
Mark Clayton knows his new Mercedes goes beyond being a splurge.

“Mega-splurge,” he said.

The former Oklahoma receiver made the high-dollar purchase earlier this year — top-end Mercedes Benzes cost as much as half a million dollars — and he spent a serious chunk of his paycheck from the Baltimore Ravens to buy the car. Still, it wasn’t an impulse buy.

Clayton thought it out first.

“Is it worth taking this car for that much?” he asked himself.

The answer: “Heck, yeah.”

Clayton is not one to splurge, and as a multi-millionaire in professional athletics, that might just put him in the minority. Pro athletes have been known to blow loads of cash on jewelry and clothes, vacations and extravagances of every kind.

A few years back, NFL cornerback Will Allen was robbed of about $150,000 in jewelry, which included a $120,000, 51-carat platinum and diamond bracelet.

Get this: he was a rookie at the time.

When high-round draft picks enter the league, they attain instant wealth. Jake Long, the first pick in this year’s NFL Draft, signed a five-year, $57.75 million contract with Miami. Adrian Peterson, the former Sooner superstar, inked a five-year, $40.5 million contract with Minnesota a year ago.

Even though the NFL rookie salaries tend to be higher than the other professional leagues, there are young athletes in every sport who find themselves with instant wealth.

Clayton did.

The 22nd overall pick in the 2005 draft signed a five-year, $8.2 million deal with the Ravens.

“That’s been a transition,” Clayton said of handling finances of that magnitude, “something that you’re not used to or familiar with from college going straight into the professional ranks.”

Clayton knows football, not finances, so he was quick to enlist help with his money. After hiring an agent, he quickly moved to find a financial advisor. He wanted to leave money management in the hands of a professional, someone who could invest his funds and grow his assets.

He also entrusted his advisor with a long-term vision.

“My thing going in was, I’m going to take care of this money and make sure when I finish I have the finances to do what I want to do,” he said.

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