Lockout? Bad economy? Doesn't matter.
Go around and ask any incoming group of NFL rookies about their first big purchases with those professional paychecks (or loans from an agent), and tally their answers. Right up there with buying a house for Mom, at the top of the list is a shiny new car, truck or whatever monstrosity of a vehicle they've been designing in their head since high school.
And it's not a brand-new concept. You can go back decades—since the moment when athletes began making more money than the average guy—and you'll find that extravagant cars have long been part of the pro ballplayer's starter kit.
Here are 25 of the hottest rides NFL players have pushed over the years. (Click the link in each slide to see the ride in question.)
Just to clear things up for the tailbacks and tight ends who wander into his path, Patrick Willis isn't driving his Aston Martin DB9 when he slams into them. It just feels like it.
Arguably the best linebacker in the NFL today has arguably the best car collection in the league, a fleet that includes a BMW 750, a Shelby Mustang, a Mercedes CL63, and the Aston Martin.
Rolle is one of the players whose name has popped up in the latest University of Miami booster scandal. According to reports, the All-American cornerback allegedly received a $7,500 watch as well as cash gifts ranging from $500 to $1,000 for shutting down elite receivers like Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald while he was at The U.
At least we know Rolle bought this Maserati Gran Turismo with his own money. To get something this luxurious from a booster, he would have had to intercept four passes per game and never allow a catch all season.
I'm not sure if Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith plays golf, but I know a lot of guys who would put this customized Mercedes-Benz golf cart in their garage even if they'd never played the game a day in their life.
If you're not trying to be Tiger Woods, maybe this could be the ride you just take down to the corner store and back.
The paint and the rims and all the usual stuff on this '70s-era Chevy Impala is nice, but what sets Devin Hester's donk apart from the crowd is the Louis Vuitton detailing on the sides, in the rims and on the headrests.
Amazing what a stripe of paint and some rims can do. If not for the red/chrome rims and white splash to the paint job, Ahman Green's Dodge Magnum might not stand out on the street. But add those elements, and it's one of the cleanest athlete's cars you'll see.
As if being a 6'8", 270-pound local hero—Pope saved the life of a child who was drowning in a pool this summer—doesn't draw enough attention on oneself, imagine the extra looks coming your way if you drove this '75 Chevy Caprice with Lamborghini doors and huge chrome rims.
Remember that car accident Brady got into last year that ESPN decided to cover like it was a presidential assassination attempt?
For car enthusiasts, the news that Brady wasn't hurt in the wreck served as only a small consolation to the fact that so much damage was done to his treasured 2011 Audi R8.
Would it surprise anybody to learn that Terry Bradshaw used to work as a used car salesman during the NFL offseason? The major downside to allowing Bradshaw behind the wheel of this convertible is that everybody can hear him talking all the way down the road.
Nobody should be surprised to find Ochocinco on any list involving the posh luxuries of being a pro athlete. The man makes a point to stand out in the crowd, even when that crowd is full of millionaires with sometimes obnoxious taste.
Ochocinco's baby blue Hummer H2 is characteristically loud and stylish for its owner.
McFadden might have taken the concept of "candy paint" a little too far on this one. His purple and green '72 Buick Centurion could double as an ice cream truck. I wouldn't be surprised if McFadden sells Skittles out of the trunk of this thing.
The purple and green machine is actually an upgrade from McFadden's first pro vehicle. He got this Arkansas-red Ford Crown Victoria donk around the time he first entered the league. Some people prefer the simpler paint job to the candy-coated version, but that's up to you.
Some say that Joe Namath is only in the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of his celebrity lifestyle and because of what he did before and during Super Bowl III. And considering that he threw more interceptions (220) than touchdowns (173) and has a career QB passer rating of 65.5 (lower than Billy Joe Tolliver), that could be true.
But if the prize package for winning that Super Bowl includes a spot in the Hall and this '69 Dodge Charger—a gift to that year's Super Bowl MVP—who's going to nitpick?
Unitas was certainly a better quarterback than Namath and inarguably a bigger square, but he still had his fun. Any classic car fan would understand why it looks like Johnny U is trying to hug this vehicle.
Some people will toss out a jersey if the player whose name is on the back leaves the team, or if the team itself updates their uniforms. It's all about staying current.
That said, even though Nate Clements has left the San Francisco 49ers for the Cincinnati Bengals, there's no way he should change a thing on this Niner-themed 2010 Chevy Camaro SS. Don't bother switching the red highlights for Bengals orange or anything like that. Keep this one close to perfect.
I'm usually not one to call any pro athlete greedy, and I don't think Chris Johnson is necessarily being greedy by asking for $13-15 million per year on a new contract from the Tennessee Titans.
But when you look at Johnson's 1970 Chevy Caprice on 30-inch rims and realize that his color scheme matches dollars and gold, well ...
Before he was a WCW and WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Goldberg played three seasons in the NFL as a nose tackle for the Atlanta Falcons.
His pro football career didn't produce much material for NFL Films, but it qualifies Goldberg and his 2009 Chevy Tahoe for this list.
JaMarcus Russell (celebritycarz.com)
I'm not going to call JaMarcus Russell a failure. He rose up to beat long odds and make millions of dollars, and unless somebody like Warren Moon is part of my audience, Russell has thrown more touchdowns in the NFL than anybody who's reading this article.
That said, the biggest tragedy of Russell's abbreviated NFL career is that we were robbed of a solid decade or so of seeing him debut some cars, clothes and jewelry that could have set the bar for outlandishness.
Russell's silver Bentley Flying Spur may even be a little modest for the guy who wore Cosby-inspired Coogi sweaters and medallions around his neck the size of Nikolai Valuev's head.
Depending on your opinion of green/chrome rims, there isn't anything too lavish about the exterior of this Mercedes-Benz CL. It's simply a great color on a great car. Proof that sometimes subtle and classy beats loud and garish.
Davis gets one spot on the list for two rides.
First is his full-size white Cadillac Escalade, second is his white Cadillac Escalade EXT. Davis had both rides customized in the exact same way, with 26-inch wheels and white rims. I wonder if Davis has ever been halfway to his destination before realizing he got in the wrong truck.
I haven't investigated Randall Gay's driving record, but if he has anything less than five speeding violations since picking up this Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, I have to commend him.
This is one of those cars that looks so fast, maybe the only thing stopping its owner from constantly testing the speedometer is that it's too good-looking (and expensive) to risk crashing.
Kim Kardashian could mimic one of those car magazine cover shoots and make a blue FIAT with a red door look amazing if she were draped across the hood. So it takes a special car to make Kim K look like background material when she's inside the vehicle.
The photo of this Ferrari F430 that belongs to Reggie Bush was taken back when his ex-girl had driving privileges, and she's barely noticeable amidst the gray paint that shines like silver in the sun, matching rims and red interior.
If you know anybody who has a "normal" yellow car, you've probably heard the joke about how people might mistake it for a cab and hop in at a red light.
Not happening with this yellow Lamborghini Murcielago that belongs to Thomas Jones. The yellow/black interior and yellow/chrome rims take this from a 9.5 to a 10 on the sickness scale.