Joe Montana. Steve Young. Brett Favre. Besides being three of the top 10 or so quarterbacks in league history (give or take a few), they also have something else in common. Steve Bono served as backup for all three.
Bono, whose 15-year career took him to seven NFL cities, including Kansas City where he was the primary starter for two years, had by most measures a successful NFL career. But besides spelling the three legends and leading the Chiefs to a 13-3 record and starting all 16 games in 1995, Bono has distinguished himself in his post-football career as a principal with Constellation Wealth Advisors. His emphasis is on helping former athletes succeed post-professionally.
That expertise will be one key cog in a new study announced Thursday in New York, as collaborative effort of Constellation and New York University's Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management to create an index to gauge the overall financial health of soon-to-be-retiring as well as those who have recently hung up their gear.
At Thursday's launch event, Bono discussed how after a two-year run in Minnesota, the team that had drafted him but for whom had thrown just 11 passes in two seasons, he was contemplating life after football. The UCLA graduate had planned to move into the banking sector, deciding to specialize in assisting pro athletes. Instead, he hooked on with Pittsburgh before parlaying a four-year reserve run in San Francisco behind Montana and Young into a two-year starting role with the Chiefs, putting those post-career plans on hold.
Bono discussed the transition to real life, expressing hope that the index, whose initial findings are expected to be released later this year, will help identify the traits that the most successful athletes possess and help others emulate those.
While Montana, Young and Favre are a formidable group, Seth Abraham, former head of HBO Sports and Madison Square Garden Entertainment, had another trio in mind when introducing Bono at Thursday's event: Jackie Robinson, George Foreman and Billie Jean King.
The obvious connection? Those three, as accomplished as they were on the playing field, ring and court, were even bigger successes in their post-sports careers. Robinson went on to become a high executive for Chock full o'Nuts; Foreman lent his name to the hugely popular grilling machines in millions of households worldwide; and King has built a sports empire that includes her World Team Tennis league.
While Bono sheepishly noted the association with those greats, it's clear that, unlike many athletes—some chronicled in the ESPN 30-for-30 documentary Broke in 2012— is planning led directly to financial health.
Now his goal is to help others do the same.
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