Athletes Who Live Just Like You and Me (And a Few Who Don't)

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2016

Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris (46) runs the ball against the Dallas Cowboys during an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Roger Steinman/Associated Press

Just because plenty of athletes make millions of dollars—did you see how much NFL teams tossed out on the first day of free agency?—that doesn't mean every single player spends like crazy and lives the high life.

Sure, there are people like Floyd Mayweather Jr. who flaunt their wealth by wearing iced-out jewelry and flying in private jets, but there are plenty of pro athletes who take a more modest approach when it comes to the way they spend cash.

And since there have been as many stories about players who drive old cars or live with a roommate as there are about giant spending sprees, we're telling you about some of the most extreme cases, comparing one player's spending habits with the other.

Let's see how this turns out.

LeBron James

Now, you might be asking yourself what I'm smoking after adding LeBron James onto this list—the same LeBron James who is worth an estimated $300 million.

James, who can afford anything he wants to, joins this list because, as much cash as he has, the four-time NBA MVP doesn't spend, spend and spend more like some of his peers, instead taking a more conservative approach to his lifestyle.

LeBron drives a Kia instead of a flashy haul of sports cars, and while he owns a few million dollar mansions, they aren't of absurd prices like one would think for a guy with, seemingly, an unlimited amount of money.

Is James like you or me financially? Hell no. But for what he could be buying, he keeps things less flashy than one would think.

Opposite: Cavs teammate J.R. Smith

A.J. Francis

Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

There's a very good chance you don't even know who A.J. Francis is since he's not some big-named star who makes millions of dollars and collects accolades every NFL season.

For the record, he's a defensive tackle who is currently on the Seattle Seahawks' practice squad and has bounced around for a few years between teams.

Maybe that's why Francis is smart about making some disposable income in addition to his nonguaranteed NFL earnings, as he drives for Uber when he's not doing something football-related to help earn extra money.

That might not be glorious, but it seems to work well for him, so good work by Francis to be financially aware.

Opposite: Former Seahawks teammate Marshawn Lynch

Andrew Chafin

Making more than $500,000 last MLB season, reliever Andrew Chafin definitely has the dough to get himself a nice apartment or house, but the Arizona Diamondbacks hurler opted for a 42-foot Keystone Fuzion RV instead.

Talking to AZCentral.com about why a fan's more prone to find him in the trailer park than a fancy neighborhood, Chafin had this to say:

“I’m pretty simple when it comes to what I need off the field. I’m not surrounded by houses and busy roads and stuff; it’s peace and quiet,” Chafin said. “It’s like being back home and being out in the woods, that kind of thing, just able to get away from stuff.”

That's pretty cool. Plus, Chafin doesn't have to worry about having another car to drive to the ballpark everyday since he can just rely on his home to get him around town. This guy's doing something smart.

Opposite: Former Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson who listed a Phoenix-area home for $25 million in 2014

Giovani Bernard

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Just because the Cincinnati Bengals' Giovani Bernard was the first running back taken in the 2013 NFL draft doesn't mean he has a big ego.

He has proved that by not only sharing time with battering mate Jeremy Hill in the Cincy backfield, but also by the way he manages his earnings, making sure he doesn't let himself go crazy on spending on unnecessary things.

Hell, Bernard even drives his girlfriend’s mom’s Honda minivan—or did so during his rookie campaign—despite signing a deal that paid him over $5.25 million, meaning he's like every teenager who has to ask a parent to use the ride before going somewhere.

Opposite: Current Bengals backfield mate Jeremy Hill

John Urschel

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

How many NFL players do you know who take the time during the offseason to do something like go learn mathematics at MIT, which, arguably, is the top university in the nation to do so at? Probably not too many.

That's because, quite frankly, it's nearly impossible to do something like that.

However, for Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel, he's taking time to focus on what his career might be following football, while keeping things frugal by still driving a Nissan Versa.

Urschel is clearly a smart dude, so good for him to live the way he thinks is comfortable for himself.

Opposite: Former Ravens teammate Bryant McKinnie who has run into financial problems since his NFL retirement

Ryan Broyles

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

He may not currently be on a team, but at least wide receiver Ryan Broyles isn't scrambling to find a million-dollar salary after the Detroit Lions released him last season.

That's because, unlike other players, Broyles didn't allow himself to get caught up with what his annual salary was while playing in the NFL, as he stuck to a strict budget of just $60,000 a year—which might be good for you or me, but it isn't what one would imagine a pro athlete to live off.

Broyles was being paid $3.6 million at the time of his release, which makes his budget even more impressive.

Opposite: Former Lions teammate Calvin Johnson who owned a Porsche and Maserati with price tags of over $100,000 each

Jordy Nelson

A Pro Bowl wideout who inked a $39 million extension two years ago, Green Bay Packers' Jordy Nelson hasn't let the fame and fortune go to his head, as he's remained working on his family's Kansas farm even after playing in the NFL.

Even as Nelson battled injuries and should have probably been rehabbing or staying off his feet, he knew his family could use or needed the help, as the wide receiver continued to pull his weight around the ranch.

In an interview with ESPN the Magazine (h/t Business Insider's Cork Gaines), here's what Nelson said about his 12-hour days rounding up herd, via Bob Hille of Sporting News:

"Working cattle is my favorite farm duty,” Nelson told ESPN. “I probably identify more as a farmer (than a football player).”

That may sound nuts to you or me, but for Jordy Nelson, it's just a way of life.

Opposite: Most high-priced NFL players who live in some of the flashiest mansions money can buy

Alfred Morris

Most of us know Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris' story by now.

Entering the NFL in 2012 as a sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic, Morris may have become a pro athlete, but he wasn't about to let it affect his ego, as he stayed hungry and humble, even after seeing success.

And the runner has continued to stay that way, as he's been driving the same beat up, 1991 Mazda since entering the league, believing it keeps him grounded and humbled.

So while we all complain about how much of a piece of crap our cars are, just remember a pro athlete is driving around in one that is 25 years old and just fine with it.

Opposite: Redskins teammate DeSean Jackson who lives such a flashy lifestyle, he received a Mercedes birthday cake with the license plate reading "Jaccpot" in frosting a couple of years ago.

Daniel Norris

There are humble and frugal atheltes, and then there's Detroit Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris—who takes things to such another level it's almost absurd.

Norris, who was a former second-round pick, collected a $2 million signing bonus and appears to still be sitting on it, as he's decided to live in a van behind Wal-Mart, bringing a whole new meaning to those who want to live in a van down by the river!

Even those people who don't make much money would probably be hesitant to do something like this, so Daniel Norris is proving to be the ultimate athlete who lives modestly by calling his VW van his home.

Opposite: Every pro athlete ever! Come on, now, who else would ever openly live in a van if they play a sport for a living?

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