Big Pete's 15 steps to staying out of trouble

Doug Pensinger

Wanna be a hot shot pro athlete? Not so fast young buck. Bad publicity and time in the slammer are all but knocking on your door unless you follow my simple rules to staying out of trouble.

You've done it, you finally did it, you made the NFL. You're an instant millionaire and an instant celebrity. The sky is the limit, right? Wrong! You're also an instant target. Not only that, but you're probably not very well equipped to handle that much money and fame. Hidden pitfalls lurk around every corner. You think you're king of the world, but the cold hard truth is that you're only king for a short time. You'll spend at least 10 times more time out of the NFL than you will in the NFL. Don't let instant stardom destroy your post-NFL life. You only get to play the game for a limited time, so follow these slightly inconvenient rules to make sure that you are a success both on the field, but off it too.

#1 - Don't get married! For the love of everything holy, don't do arguably the dumbest thing a young pro athlete can do and get married. Do you realize how many "Perfect 10's" will be throwing themselves at you and on you for the next 10+ years? Look, I'm down for finding the love of your life, and I'm cool with monogamy, but after you taste the forbidden fruit (which means Tebow doesn't know what I'm talking about), getting laid is in your blood. I don't care who you are, or how much you love your girl, a man can only "just say no" for so long. Everywhere you turn, BAM, there's a complete knockout. Eventually you will break, and when you do, there will be hell to pay. Not only will you have ridiculous drama from your significant other, but the media will have a field day with you and you'll have talking heads like Skip Bayless calling you out. Save yourself the headache and "just say no" to marriage until your playing days are gone and the 20 year old hotties stop lining up to have their taste!

#2 - Don't get a girlfriend! The more I think about it, why would you even bother getting a girlfriend? Why? Because she said the right things, acted the right way, and did everything you demanded in order to be with a professional athlete? You know what? There are more of them, exactly like her out there. Why bother settling down with a girlfriend? You're a star, go out and sow your oats. You won't have drama unless you bring it on yourself, and settling down with someone is drama disguised as a hot chick. Save yourself the time (and money) and just enjoy the endless stream of women knocking on your door.

While we're on that subject,

#3 - Always use protection. You don't need any baby mamma drama or baby daddy headaches. Play your cards right and you won't have to run a cocaine cartel because you're supporting 9 children from 9 different women. "no glove, no love" should be your life motto. Plus, it cuts down on your risk of disease. Besides, I don't want to catch anything from the women needing a shoulder to cry on when their NFL player never calls her back.

Hell has no fury like a woman scorned, which leads me into,

#4 - Always check photo IDs. Pretend you're a liquor store and always card someone if they look younger than 35. If you suspect a fake, just turn her away. Chances are the next slammin hottie you look at will leave the club with you.

#5 - Alway always always get consent in some form or fashion. I don't care if you have them sign a piece of paper and you have one of your "crew" become a Notary Public, you need to make sure that you have consent so that the potentially scorned woman doesn't try to blackmail you. If signing a contract is too difficult, start making 30 second video clips on your smart phone of you asking her consent and her giving it. Time stamp that by sending it to your lawyer or agent or whoever, but get freaking consent. For the love of God, get consent!

#6 - Ditch the sketchy friends and family. I get it, I really do, you want to take care of your "boys" who have been there your whole life. Look, that's all fine and good, but there comes a time where you simply need to "out grow" these people. We all know who they are, and we all know who I'm talking about. There comes a time where your childhood friend who you drank your first beer with and who has been arrested for possession 5 times just shouldn't be around you anymore; Not if you plan on being successful anyways. The same goes for money hungry relatives and friends. Want to know who to keep and who not to keep? Start going to your friends and families' houses and start leaving $20 bills accidentally next to the couch on the floor. If you leave without them asking if it's yours, ditch them. They are only in it for the money, the celebrity, and the perks. Ditch anyone with gang affiliations (Hernandez), and keep only good, quality people around you.

#7 - Don't do drugs. I don't care if weed is now legal in Colorado, and I don't care if you have ADHD. Don't do drugs! The NFL won't care if your doctor prescribes you steroids because you're going under the knife for surgery, don't take it. I don't care if you've had ADHD since you were 7, don't take Adderall. Colorado legalized weed? Guess what? It's still a banned freaking substance in the NFL (and Federally). There are perfectly legal and over the counter things that all of us can take, but the NFL deems them off limits. If whatever you are thinking about taking is on that list, don't take it no matter what, even if a doctor prescribes it. Also, don't hang out with your pot smoking friends like Mike Anderson claims to have done. You still run the risk of popping positive for marijuana even though you didn't technically smoke any.

#8 - Don't drink and drive! I'm pretty sure we've all read enough about this, so I won't go into any of the details as to why. My main point is to just not do it, which leads me to my next rule...

#9 - Always have a hired driver to drive you to and from wherever you want to go. If you want to go out, don't grab your car keys, don't call your buddy, and don't have your chick (better not be a girlfriend or wife) take you. Hire a driver. Have that driver wait for you all damn night if he has to. If you're a late round draft pick, call the team's crew of drivers, they'll drive you FOR FREE! But for heaven's sake, do NOT leave it up to your best judgement. We've all been there, and we've all thought we were ok to drive a few miles to our houses, but the honest to God truth is that it just isn't worth it. Not when you have the resources that these guys do at their disposal. Think ahead of time, hire a driver or hire the Team's free service. Just don't ever leave your house with the intent on drinking with your car keys in your hands! (you can take your house key off the keychain if you have to).

Speaking of what not to leave the home with...

#10 - Don't own a gun, don't borrow a gun, a don't be around people with guns, period! I understand that some guys are from farms like Derrick Wolfe, so they'll have guns, but I urge you, do not have them anywhere near you as long as you plan on being in the NFL. Leave those guns at your parents' farm house. Don't take them with you to the city. There is simply no reason why any of these guys should own, let alone carry a gun. If you're stupid enough to be in sketchy parts of towns that would require you to carry a gun, then you need to re-evaluate your priorities, because you sure as hell aren't following these 15 rules I have laid out for you! If you're so worried about your safety, hire bodyguards! They are out there, and they are usually former cops, former FBI/CIA guys, or former special forces guys who can actually protect you if needed. Just don't be that supreme idiot who gets busted with guns, or who shoots himself in the damn leg. Grow up, you're a star, it's time to leave the thug life in the ghetto (where you don't reside).

#11 - Don't go to after parties. The clubs have a "Last Call" at around 1:30, and they close at 2am. Take that as a sign that its time to have your driver open up the back door and take you (and the hottie draped on your arm) home. "Nothing good ever happens after 2am".... That wouldn't be a popular saying if it weren't true!

#12 - Never take home an obviously drunk girl. If she can barely walk, then you shouldn't be hooking up with her. If she's hammered, let her leave with her friends or some other sucker like Ben Roethlisberger. Do NOT be the poor sucker who has a rape charge filed on him because he turned down hoards of chicks in order to go home with the lowest hanging fruit. A bodyguard and/or driver can definitely aid you in determining who to bring home and who not to bring home. You'll most likely be slightly inebriated, so your judgement might be impaired. it's times like these where standing orders to your bodyguard or driver to not allow drunk women into the vehicle with you will come in very handy.

#13 - Don't live Downtown! Pick a nice suburb to live in. Heck, pick a place within 10 minutes of Dove Valley to live at, just don't live Downtown. It's too tempting to break any of these rules if you're constantly surrounded by drinking districts, hookers, and blow. Just steer clear my friend, just steer clear. The last thing you need is to be walking home from a bar because you only live 12 blocks away and get in a fight with a bunch of drunk idiots somewhere along the way. It's simply not worth it. Live in a quiet neighborhood surrounded by other quiet people. It may seem boring, but you only have a limited amount of years to play in the league, so whatever inconveniences you might have to put up with will be worth it in the long run.

#14 - Don't open up a twitter or Facebook account. You want to self promote? Then do great on the field. Do great on the field, and you'll have a longer line of sponsors and tv shows begging for your time than hot chicks begging for your time. Not having Twitter and Facebook will cut down on potential public apologies that you'll need to make. It'll cut down on the dumb crap that spews out of your mouth because you're too immature to realize that not everything you think needs to be made public. It'll also cut down on any evidence that people could use against you. Peyton Manning seems to be getting along just fine without Twitter, and so will you. Let your play, not your ridiculous rants speak for you, and you'll be more well known than any type of self promotion could ever bring.

and finally,

#15 - Hire the best financial advisers money can buy. I'm talking the type of advisers that tell Warren Buffet what to do. Have them invest your money for you. Have them give you a budget, and STICK TO IT. Have them give you allowances. Have them only allow you to have access to your money if it lands on their desk and they approve it. Don't be on any ESPN 30 for 30 episodes about rich athletes who are bankrupt. Don't blow all your salary in 17 weeks only to have to take out loans to live the remaining 35. I know you're young, but you're also probably dumb. Don't let instant money destroy your life and your future.

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