Minnesota Viking helps spread financial literacy

Minnesota Finance Commissioner Michael Rothman and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings pose with Hopkins High School students on Nov. 19, after talking with students about financial literacy and playing

Minnesota Finance Commissioner Michael Rothman and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings pose with Hopkins High School students on Nov. 19, after talking with students about financial literacy and playing "Financial Football."

This morning, the Hopkins High School media center was transformed into an NFL Financial Football stadium. Sixty students, teachers and NFL personnel attended to hear Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings.

Jennings was here on behalf of the NFL and NFLPA in partnership with Visa to help promote financial planning among young adults. Michael Rothman, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, also attended.

Rothman was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton on Jan. 12, 2011, and has since traveled across the state to help educate kids on setting up their financial future.

“The reason why I took this job is to help make a difference for kids,” Rothman said. “I teach kids about saving money and doing the right things with their money.”

Jennings also spoke about making the right financial decisions with examples from his own life.

“When I played football in college, I received a stipend of $2,500 at the beginning of each month. I shared an apartment and I had to help pay rent, put gas in my car, pay for my phone, and for insurance,” Jennings said. “But, when I saw that check, the necessities, the needs, went out the window. I went to the mall and saw some Jordan’s and felt like I had enough money to buy them. I made some pretty bad financial decisions in college.”

Furthermore, Jennings illustrated how having large amounts of money has impacted his decision making.

“There is a difference between needs and wants. Needs are priority. Wants should come after needs. Luckily, my mom was a big time budgeter. She always made sure that she did what was needed and left money for what she wanted to do in the back,” said Jennings. “As a kid, you don’t really understand that because you see something and say ‘I want that.’ When I got into the NFL, I was given a ton of money at a really young age and then, I had to make a lot of pinpoint, responsible decisions with that money.”

Jennings, who signed a five-year, $45 million contract, with $17.8 million guaranteed, also stressed how people need to save their money.

“I did not have a savings account in high school, but, as I am older and am managing my money, I understand the message of saving. If you don’t, it’s almost like forfeiting your future.”

After Jennings spoke, students split into two teams and competed in “Financial Football.” Jennings coached the Vikings, while Rothman coached the Packers.

The game, inspired by Visa, had the students pick a pass or run play and the difficulty they wanted. The harder the difficulty, the harder the questions the students were asked.

The questions dealt with a great variety of different financial issues. Aided by the coaches, the students answered questions and their team would then go on “drives” to score.

The game ended in a 0-0 tie, with the only scoring chance coming on a missed 59-yard field goal by the Vikings.

“Hopefully we do better against them this weekend,” Jennings said.

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