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Football: Past Great returns as speaker

Chris Khorey | Wednesday, August 23, 2006

When he got his first NFL contract, former Notre Dame running back Allen Pinkett was not careful with his money.

Now he’s making sure other recent college graduates don’t make the same mistake.

Pinkett is touring colleges around the country preaching a message of responsible spending, retirement savings and debt management with The Hartford Financial Group’s “Playbook for Life” project.

On Monday, Pinkett stopped at Notre Dame. Along with Hartford University golf coach William Poutre, the former Irish great gave a presentation for almost 150 senior student athletes in the morning and another for a smaller group of regular students in the afternoon at the Career Center in Flanner Hall.

“I would have made a lot better decisions had a program like this been around when I graduated from college,” Pinkett said. “When I got my first NFL paycheck, I would go to the ATM machine and take out the maximum amount just because I could. I went into a store to buy one suit and ended up buying seven.”

Poutre, who started his own business while he was a sophomore at Hartford and made $250,000 profit before the start of his junior year, reminded students about fiscal responsibility.

“I spent the $250,000 really fast,” he said. “I bought two cars and even a racehorse. If I have saved that money, it would be worth close to a million dollars today.”

Despite his youthful indiscretion, Poutre’s business acumen allowed him to become financially independent by age 40 and semi-retire as a coach and adjunct professor at Hartford.

“Playbook for Life” originated in March 2005 after The Hartford surveyed student-athletes and found that 75 percent wanted more information about financial planning. The company came to Pinkett, who was selling insurance for them at the time, and asked if he would be “team captain” for their financial planning education effort.

To help get “Playbook for Life” off the ground, Pinkett put together a group of former college athletes who had become successful in other endeavors to give presentations around the country. The group, called “Team Hartford,” is made up mostly of former student-athletes who did not play professionally.

“I’m sort of the aberration,” said Pinkett, who played seven years in the NFL for the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints.

Since its inception, “Team Hartford” has written a booklet – an actual “playbook” for personal finance – which its members hand out for free at all its presentations. The booklet is also available online at playbook.the hartford.com.

“The language in the booklet is practical and there are things you can get out of it, whether you are an incoming freshman or an outgoing senior,” Pinkett said.

The program was initially aimed only at student-athletes but has been expanded in recent months to include regular college students.

“What we discovered over the past year or so is we realized the information is relevant to all students,” Pinkett said. “A lot of college students think, ‘Well, when it happens I’ll take care of it, but, in reality, if they would start doing the things we talk about in the book while they’re still in college, it would make their lives a lot easier.'”

Pinkett was a two-time All-American at Notre Dame and holds 13 Irish records. In addition to his work on “Playbook for Life” at The Hartford, he works as a football analyst for Westwood One, contributing color commentary for Notre Dame radio broadcasts.