EFOC 2024: “You Get What Your Work Deserves” —These NFL Stars Discuss The Business Of The Game – Essence

Cleveland Browns stars Grant Delphitt and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo got real about their lives on and off the field at the 2024 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture’s Suede Men’s Experience on July 5.

In a sit down with ESSENCE’s entertainment editor Okla Jones, the two NFL ballers shared exactly how the game has influenced their lives for the good and bad.

When asked about how he handles his financial responsibilities, Delphitt shared he’s completely invested in how his money flows.

“You’ve got to be hands-on with it,” he says. “How football goes, you play on your rookie contract. So, it’s four years. And I was worried about just doing what I got to do on the field. But now, since I just signed a new contract during the season last year, that set me up pretty well, and now I could start doing some more financial endeavors, things like that. We got some things in the works right now, but my advice would be to just worry about football first and do what you got to do on the field so you get set up for after that.”

Sage advice considering data has shown NFL players have faced financial challenges a short time after retirement despite pulling in high earnings throughout their careers.

As ESSENCE previously pointed out, a 2009 Sports Illustrated report contextualized how, around that time, 78 percent of NFL players found themselves bankrupt or under significant financial stress.

Okoronkwo shared that he levels up his finances by prioritizing what matters the most: performing well on the field.

“You have to keep the main thing the main thing,” Okoronkwo tells the ESSENCE Fest crowd. “You can’t think that’s not making everything else possible. You can’t short it. During the season, I’m less hands-on {with my financial planning}. But in the offseason, that’s when I take advantage of all the time that I’m getting in and I try to be more hands-on.”

The two also agreed that once their on-field skills are mastered, prioritizing work-life balance is equally as important.”

“I got really big on photography after my injury,” Okoronkwo says. He reveals that he even plans to release a coffee table book showcasing images he captured in his world travels.”

Similarly, Delphitt shares that in the off-season, he developed a love for travel, a hobby his teammate introduced him to.

“I like to travel, to be honest,” Delphitt shares. “I like to go see the world. We actually just was in Paris for Fashion Week, doing stuff like that. I didn’t even know there was a Fashion Week when I was growing up. I didn’t even know what that was until I started with the league and hanging around guys like Obo, getting introduced to that world.”

When asked about advice they’d offer their younger selves, they resoundingly said: “don’t stress it.”

“I would tell myself just not to stress too much about it, just handle your business and let the work speak for itself,” says Okoronkwo. “You get what your work deserves at the end of the day. That’s all I tell myself. If you work for it, you’ll get it.”

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