Phillip Buchanan entered the NFL Draft as one of the best DB prospects in the nation and was a guaranteed 1st round draft pick. That is the dream of many young men playing the game of football but Phillip would soon learn that dreams can turn into nightmares.
In his new book Phillip details the struggles that come along with instant fame and the pressure he felt from both friends and family.
Phillip sat down with us at BSO to talk about his journey:
BSO: What was it like for you playing at the U in the early 2000s?
Phillip: It was one of my best decisions, I wouldn’t take it back for anything the world. My experiences of being around Clinton Portis, Ed Reed, Andre Johnson, Ken Dorsey, all of those guys. I would do it all over again. We had great coaches like Butch Davis, Chuck Pagano and the list goes on. It was a great opportunity and that was a part of the golden era of Miami football.
BSO: What was being drafted like for you? Did becoming an instant millionaire change you?
Phillip: I mean I was still the same person but people said I changed. Of course I changed because I was getting money and I had to change; I couldn’t do the same things I used to do. When you get seven figure checks your ego is stroked a little bit and it makes you feel like you’re the sh*t a little bit. After that wore off the I went back to being my normal self.
BSO: When did stuff start to go bad for you financially?
Phillip: The people started changing around me. They said, “he has money now,” because they see that I signed a 4 million dollar signing bonus. They don’t see taxes, agent fees, the 1 million dollars I had already spent. It was more like $1 million for me to live off of. The reason I say $1 million is because I had to buy my mom a house, had to buy myself some things and I was already $1 million dollars in the hole because I spent money I didn’t have.
BSO: Why do you feel that so many young athletes feel the need to take care of people?
Phillip: When I was young, I don’t blame my family for this though, I was trained that if you make it your family makes it. If you are wearing jewelry, eating good, driving good then they should be doing the same. You can’t hold up like that. People need to be raised to know that you should do what you can do not what you have to do for others. We just have to do better. That is why I wrote this book.
BSO: How did you turn it all around before it was too late?
Phillip: I finally looked at my bank account and I saw that I had all of this unnecessary stuff. Houses, jewelry and other stuff was making me broke. If I would’ve defaulted on everything I would’ve owed people money. How did I just go from having nothing, to having a bunch of money and now I’d be broke. I couldn’t understand that.
BSO: What was the hardest time emotionally/physically/emotionally for you during your career?
Phillip: It was when I was in Houston. I hated playing football in Houston, I can strongly say that. The organization was first class but I didn’t like the coach, I didn’t like the playbook, I was depressed and just spending money. I was hurt a lot during my time with the Texans and that also added to my depression. Then one night I was robbed at gun point and it changed my life. I had to make a change with my life and it turned everything around for me. It was a wake up call to have a gun in my mouth, I don’t fear anything after that.
BSO: What message would you give to the players entering the NFL this year?
Phillip: I would relay this statement that I once read, “If you are in a room and you’re the smartest guy, then you are probably in the wrong room.” That’s so important. You have to be in a place where you can always learn something and get better. Go reach out to people, find a mentor, learn something new. There are plenty of people who are willing to help you out.
Phillip also made sure to point out that his story isn’t just one for athletes. Anyone with aspirations of reaching success in their career can take something away from his story and his openness should serve as a learning tool for everyone.