BrunellAs a University of Washington quarterback in the early 1990s, Mark Brunell

BrunellAs a University of Washington quarterback in the early 1990s, Mark Brunell cherished his three Rose Bowl rings. Today, despite having earned more than $75 million as a pro football player, the New York Jets backup quarterback is forced to sell his three bowl rings to pay off his debts. Owing about $20 million more than he has to his name, Brunell has taken what he calls “the only viable course of action,” filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. According to statements he filed with federal bankruptcy court, Brunell and wife Stacy have assets worth $5.5 million, but liabilities of $24.7 million.The revered ex-Husky, whose story is told in today’s Seattle Weekly

cover story, is hardly the only wealthy pro athlete to go bust. But his is likely the largest bankruptcy ever among NFL players, based on a review of records.”It doesn’t seem like he was the guy this would happen to,” says his friend and former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Rick Mirer. Adds Brunell’s ex-Husky rival, Billy Joe Hobert, “I’ve gone through some of this, and I can understand how he feels.”As many as eight out of 10 onetime NFL players go bankrupt or suffer financial stress due to joblessness or divorce, according to some experts. And Ken Ruettgers, who counsels former pros on how to recover from losing it all, says “A lot of guys come to me so late and in such deep holes that it’s hard to help them dig out.”To former Husky and NFL great Hugh McElhenny – who also declared bankruptcy after leaving the field – the problem is the fantasy life of today’s pros.”We were more realistic in my days,” says the Pro Football Hall of Famer, who turns 83 this week. “I worked at a potato-chip company while I played for the 49ers!” That was in the 1950s: “We made five, six thousand a year, but you could live on it then,” says Hurryin’ Hugh. “Today they make millions. They’re in another world.”Follow The Daily Weekly on Facebook and Twitter.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

More in News & Comment

Photo of promotional recruitment banner used by Auburn Police Department at Petpalooza. The banner features Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson, who is awaiting trial for the 2019 murder and assault of Jesse Sarey. Photo courtesy of Jeff Trimble
Auburn police use photo of embattled officer on recruitment banner

Families of people killed by Jeffrey Nelson, who’s awaiting trial for murder, speak out over use of his photo at Petpalooza.

Use your King County library card to explore the outdoors

KCLS cardholders can check out a Discover Pass for two weeks to explore public lands.

Monkeypox virus. Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.
King County identifies first presumptive monkeypox case

The illness is not as easily transmitted compared to COVID-19, according to health officer.

This screenshot from Auburn Police Department bodycam footage shows an officer about to fire his weapon and kill dog on May 13, 2022.
Auburn police shoot dog, and owner claims it wasn’t justified

See videos of attack as well as bodycam footage of officer firing at dog.

File photo.
King County Council approves creation of Cannabis Safety Taskforce amid rash of dispensary robberies

The multi-agency task force will cooperate to find ways to improve safety in the cash-only industry.

Screenshot from ORCA website
New ORCA system launches for regional transit across the Puget Sound

Overhaul includes new website, mobile application and digital business account manager.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Diane Renee Erdmann and Bernard Ross Hansen. Photos courtesy of FBI
FBI arrests Auburn couple after 11-day manhunt

The couple was previously convicted for fraud and skipped sentencing on April 29.

Screenshot from Barnes and Noble website
Cover art of books that KSD Librarian Gavin Downing says have been under fire: “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts),” by Lev A.C. Rosen, “If I Was Your Girl,” by Meredith Russo, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George Matthew Johnson.
Kent middle school librarian wins intellectual freedom award

Gavin Downing refused to keep ‘silence in the library’ amid attempted book banning and censorship.

Kent elementary school teacher accused of using racist language toward student

River Ridge Elementary instructor placed on administrative leave by Kent School District.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.