Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

16 Mar 2010

Warren Passes Up $250,000 Bonus To Get Degree

Patriots defensive end Ty Warren is making a curious choice this offseason -- in lieu of heading to voluntary workouts and collecting a $250,000 bonus, he's going to stay at home in Texas and finish up his degree at Texas A&M.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 16 Mar 2010

61 comments, Last at 12 Mar 2013, 11:18am by brian2


by Sophandros :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 9:59am

Wise choice. He's 29 and facing a possible lockout in 2011. Having a degree increases his chances of a career post-football.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:06am

Agreed. IMO, it's always a good thing to see when these guys are wise enough to prepare for life after football. Especially older veterans who may not have much left to their football career. Very glad to see this.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 5:34pm


The $250K hes giving up is probably more than the degree will change his potential earnings.

A degree in "agriculture leadership and development" doesn't sound like a huge earner to me.

Its certainly "noble", but Wise? He's already made in excess of $10M, so its not like we're talking survival here.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 5:45pm

Agreed--even more so if he were to invest the $250k. College seems like a waste of time now, considering his earning potential right now vs. his earning potential 1-2 years from now. College can (and maybe should!) wait!

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

by jp6v (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 7:23pm

It is hard to say how much the degree will change his personal future income. However, numbers I've seen say that a college degree is worth about $2.1 million over 40 years[1]. To equal that with his $250,000 he'd need a rate of return of 5.5% over 40 years.

Far from impossible but not guaranteed either. I'd say they are pretty similar with a slight nod to the $250,000 now.

That said, you mentioned he's already got quite a bit of money so this is probably just "personal fulfilment". If he had opted to spend $250,000 on a luxury car no one would think anything of it. This is exactly equivalent.

[1]: it isn't entirely clear to me whether that "$2.1 million" means. Is it just the nominal figure or inflation adjusted or what? I'll assume it is based on 2010 dollars.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 8:42pm

That 2.1 million is also based on the assumption that someone has no abnormal marketable skills.

Ty Warren is a professional football player. IE, hes a minor celebrity. At absolute worst, he'll have a decent career selling cars down at Rodham Ford if he wants, so his floor is a lot higher than the $7/hr flipping burgers that the comparison is based on.

Over 40 years, 2.1 millions breaks out to just over 50K a year. I really doubt college education increases your earnings by 50K a year. 50K a year might be average salary for those with degrees.

by wr (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:03am

It's curious only because even now far too few NFL players think about life after football/fallback positions. I agree
it's a smart move.

by Dean :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:03am

Over the course of his lifetime, that degree could be worth more than $250,000.

by Big Paul (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:06am

I don't see how it would be any harder to get a degree in a few years, when he's not choosing it instead of $250,000.

by Temo :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:17am

I agree, this move make no sense economically.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:36am

At the rate the cost of college is increasing, it'll probably cost more than $250k for him to finish his degree if he waits a few more years. I kid... but only somewhat.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:12am

Having read the article, economics does not appear to be the primary motivation for him at this time. It appears being an effective and consistent role model for his children was more important than $250,000.

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:15am

It should make for a far more enjoyable offseason. Oh, and being a role model for his kids.

by Bobman :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 1:44pm

That trumps just about everything else.

Of course a degree from Texas A&M... how much can that really be worth?


by GoVikes (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 1:46pm

It could be because he has to finish his degree by this year or his credits no longer apply, which in that case would make a lot of sense. A lot of universities have limits for how long you can be out of school before you have to go back to finish. He probably figured it was either now or never.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 1:56pm

Great point.

How come none of the snotty Patriots fans came in here and said that it's the "Patriot way", and that he's a smart, heady, fan favorite, on America's team that we should all root for because above all the New England do the right thing?

Ty Warren is a good enough player that he should never have to work again, but then again I have no idea of his spending habbits so you never know.

by Nathan :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:45pm

Dunno, maybe we just think the decision is a personal one and are simply enjoying the mildly pleasant feeling that it gives us to see a player we root for carry himself in such an adult manner.

How come you're not railing against Mike Vick and talking about how buff Brady Quinn is?

by Sophandros :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:59am

He has three children. They're younger now. In a few years, he may not have time to get his degree.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by billsfan :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:12am

I wonder how he feels about abandoning his teammates ;)

(I also like the Eagles)

by Marko :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 7:57pm

Ha ha! We know that's what the Bucs would ask. Allegedly.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:13am

Yeah, I don't know what the tuition runs at A&M, but I'd imagine 250k, even after taxes, pays for a lot of credits.

On the other hand, if going to class seems a lot more interesting than the workouts, which sounds about right to me, then he is making the smart move. After you get to a certain point financially, life is too short to be bored out your skull for a few more bucks.

by IsraelP (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:15am

agriculture leadership and development??

by scottyb (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 2:13pm

This is the undergrad business program that happens to be in the Ag school at A&M. Admittedly a dumb name for a major, but it is essnetially a BS in business admin

by Theo :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:31am

This is curious because... ??

I think it's a good move. This guy doesn't have to work after his career or anything, but a degree is something to be proud of and a great achievement. Showing up at practice and collecting a $250.000 bonus is not.

by thendcomes (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:57am

He deserves credit for trying to set a good example that education is important, to his own kids and other kids out there.

However, there's nothing stopping him from getting his degree later when the Patriots will NOT be offering him a quarter million dollars just to attend practice. If you consider opportunity cost, economically it's a retarded move.

It's a move he can easily make since he's already a millionaire, which obviously reduces the utility of another $250,000. If he was broke, you can bet your life he'd say F that degree.

by DZ (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:01am

I would never counsel anyone to turn down $250K in order to go to school. You can always go to school. You can't always get $250 K for a few weeks of work.

by RickD :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 12:06pm

You wouldn't offer that counsel to Bill Gates? $250k means different things to different people.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 12:20pm

Yeah, but why would Bill Gates need to go to school? To prepare for life after Microsoft? 250k is probably still worth more to Bill Gates than a college degree. The enjoyment of obtaining that degree might be worth something to him though.

by JetfanMike (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:04pm

This doesn't necessarily apply to Warren, but lots of people go to school simply to learn things, and not because it makes them more money.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 8:27am

That's what the last sentence of my post was meant to convey.

by Bobman :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 1:48pm

THAT slacker college drop-out? LOOOOOOOSER! If I see him at the tennis club I'll give him an earful. (We're both members but I suspect neither of us goes often--I know I don't. Too full of those college smart-boys.)

by dk240t :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:03am

It isn't a good financial move - you can get the degree another time.

But the fact is, these guys skip these things at great expense all the time, for much dumber reasons than this. And if I had that kind of money, there might be things I'd be willing to pay 250k for that I wouldn't dream of doing under my circumstances.

by Podge (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:04am

Well everyone knows that a college education is likely to allow someone to earn more over the course of their working life. If he gets a decent grade he could even earn as much as $250,000 more than your non-college graduate.

by drobviousso :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:14am

I just hope he isn't going back for an econ or finance class. If he was, his prof might wan to pull him aside for a little lecture in things like opportunity cost and time value of money.

On the other hand, there might be mitigating reasons for this choice. He could be sick of workouts, his time around his family in his home state might legitimately be worth $250k (pre-tax), his credits might be expiring, there might be some non-repeating event he might be missing worth 250k (birth of a child, sick family member). He may be so sure that he's set for life that the pay has absolutely no utility for him at all.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 12:22pm

Good point about expiring credits. I hadn't thought of that. Maybe the presupposition that he could go back and finish up any time is not valid.

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:19am

250k aren't the same 250k for everyone. If you already make millions, 250k is not as much as for a regular guy.

Personally, I think it's a great excuse to do something better with his time, like spend time with his family and enjoy campus life.

by KarlFA :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:24am

Except - if you read the article, he's working out on his own anyhow. And not getting paid for it. This decision is ridiculous. What happens if he gets hurt working out at home? That's his ass. He gets hurt working out on the team's dime? Injury settlement.

Besides, agricultural leadership is not a moneymaking degree. Sorry. Whatever he does after his pro career will most likely be influenced by the fact that he is an NFL player - that degree will be pointless.

Karl, Miami

by KarlFA :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:25am

Pointless in an economic sense.

Karl, Miami

by RickD :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 12:08pm

I would surmise that for Ty Warren, finishing his degree means more to him.

by Bobman :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 1:53pm

I agree about the economic value of that specific degree (see my snobby aggie joke above), but applaud his move nevertheless. Life is bigger than the next paycheck and too few of these guys realize it. Sounds like he does. If I could afford to go back and get another degree, I'd do it in a flash.

by James-London :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 4:14pm

Amen to that. I'm doing a second degree (12 years after the first one) part-time, and it's one of the best decisions I ever made.

Ty Warren? More power to him.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by Theo :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:23am

I hereby volunteer to practice and collect that bonus if he doesn't want it.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:55am

If I'm the Patriots, I hold a press conference and announce Warren is getting his bonus. "His commitment to his education is something we commend and, in honor of this decision, we're starting another educational foundation to send inner-city kids to college. Now, who wants to buy some jerseys!"

Would seem to be one heck of a PR opportunity.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 12:25pm

Except then you get 20 other players who all want to skip workouts and take underwater basket weaving, and still expect to get their bonus too.

by BDC :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 12:49pm

Well no offense intended but that is pretty stupid. Imagine if you will, that instead of skipping practice (which you are suggesting he should still get paid for), he was instead skipping a study session to do something he would rather be doing. Would you suggest he be handed an A for the course anyway?

by JoeHova :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 1:24pm

Instead of giving Warren the bonus, they could give the bonus amount to a scholarship fund. That would be better PR.

by Bobman :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 1:57pm

Awesome solution. It could be open and general scholarships, or limited to NFL players who aren't in the league long enough and don't get vested for retirement benefits, plus don't have degrees yet. Put PR pressure on other teams/NFLPA to pool funds to help the guys everybody wants to help but nobody really does, sends a pretty good message, and makes them look like good guys.

by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 4:15pm

Ahh yes college. The Elephant in the room. Noone is making back their investment in college in any manner that makes it a worthwhile endeavor any more.

Somehow something that used to be called higher education has become everybody's education. The whole idea that college is a necessary step for members of our society is instead using resources extremely inefficiently.

Take my city. The average college student in Washington, D.C is costing somebody north of 200k for a 4 year degree that will pay on average 35k upon entering the work force.

I'm sure that money could be used in a better manner.

College: Tremendous opportunity, Not worth the money.

by Sophandros :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 5:08pm

I'm sure your post was tongue in cheek, but let's play along.

What's the average pay for a job that you get without a college degree?

Even if the kid getting the 35K job never gets a promotion, over time he'll be in the black.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by JetfanMike (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:10pm

Well, we could put the point slightly differently: the (possibly) sightly higher salary gained from a 4 yr degree from an elite private school does not justify paying 6 times what it would cost to go to an in-state public school.

by NY expat :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 5:08pm

Yes, in theory you could learn the same by going to the library and reading or doing research online. There's even a lot of stuff from colleges that you could get online -- all of MIT's course material, I think, for example. I've seen a lot of posts like these recently, and there certainly was a time when college was not necessary.

Unfortunately, you don't see a lot of companies going to the public library to recruit workers. Even those companies that were famously started by people without college degrees, like Microsoft and Stride Rite, tend to require a BA/BS or even higher degree to get a job. Sure, you can waste your time in college if you like, but not going to college is a good way to make your life a struggle financially, at least.

To be fair, I agree that you shouldn't have to pay $50K/year to go to college, but you don't have to. Go to state school, or even start with a community college for two years before finishing at state school, but go, or if that doesn't apply, send your kids to college.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 5:09pm

Not to jump too far off football, but I would say that (A) it's quite clearly documented that a college education equates to significantly higher income over a lifetime, making it more than worthwhile, and (B) it's quite easy to go somewhere cheaper than that for college. Don't go to American University, go to a state college.

by Jovins :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 5:10pm

That's not really fair.
It depends on the degree you get.
Sure, if you get a degree in underwater basket weaving, it's not going to pay for itself.
But if you get a degree like engineering, you likely will not be entering the workforce at 35k a year.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 03/16/2010 - 8:44pm

If you find a job in engineering.

Your average college kid is getting a degree in liberal arts, and then ending up doing something that doesn't really need a degree, and owes 150K+. That kid will never recover that money. Even at the low educational interest rates.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 2:52am

Citation please

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 9:02am

It's probably because most everyone here has a better job than this, but when I was in school, I worked part-time at Pizza Hut, and they gave all the Manager jobs in my area to people who really didn't know how to run the store, but had a 4-yr Art History degree. The staffers who actually ran things did not have degrees, and thus were never considered for the job.

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 9:09am

I guess no one here ever saw the movie "Tin Cup."

IIRC, there is a quote where he says something to the effect that "Ten years from now, no one will remember who won this tournament, but refusing to take the easy way out will be remembered forever."

There are a lot of casual fans (and probably non-fans) who will know who he is. Ask the 70-year-old grandmother up the road if she's heard this story.

He will be making the talk show rounds for the next several years, and will likely end up a Jeopardy question.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 11:24am

Methinks you're over-estimating the staying power of this story by a gigantic margin. Just stopping with "ten years from now, no one will remember" seems a lot more accurate.

by Eddo :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 12:29pm

No kidding. It's not like he's even giving up a season's worth of playing, let alone a career or anything notable.

Warren is not going to camp in order to get his degree. It will be minutely interesting trivia one day, nothing more.

by Alex51 :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 3:05pm

I don't get what's so odd about his decision. So he's giving up $250,000. Big deal. He's made over $15 million in the last 3 years alone, so he's not in any danger of running out of money. So the decision was between making $250,000 that he would never spend, or doing something he enjoyed and found fulfilling. Not a very difficult choice.

I seriously doubt that anyone has ever said on their deathbed, "Oh, if only I had made $25 million instead of $24 million! Then I could die happy." I suspect that far more people find themselves regretting not getting a college degree.

by brian2 :: Tue, 03/12/2013 - 11:18am

I don't see what's so strange about his decision, on the contrary, I really think he must be a smart man to take such a decision. Just think about, even if his football career won't pay off, he still could use his college degree to start a new career. Either way his future is secured, it was a wise decision on his behalf.