Ricky Jean Francois is a nine-year NFL veteran. He also is a savvy businessman — in an industry that surely will endear him to fans of his new team.
Jean Francois, who reportedly signed with the New England Patriots on Tuesday, owns 30 (!) Dunkin’ Donuts franchises across South Carolina and Georgia. And everyone knows Bostonians love their Dunkin’.
The idea to become a donut shop proprietor came to Jean Francois after he signed his first big NFL contract — a four-year, $22 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts. The defensive lineman was in his mid-20s at the time (he’ll turn 31 later this month), and he wanted to set himself up for life after football and avoid the pitfalls of wealth that have burned so many other pro athletes.
“People want the jewelry, the big rings, the cars, the house and all that,” Jean Francois said last month in an interview with WLUK-TV in Wisconsin. “I told a lot of the other guys, ‘Man, put some money to the side.’ You’ve got to make two to three other ways of income that doesn’t have anything to do with your main job.
“Right now, you’re 23 with a bunch of money. But is that going to be the same money you have in your hand when you turn 30?”
Jean Francois wants to be “the guy on the other side of the ’30 for 30.’ ”
“Like, this guy did the right things with his money,” he added. “Each and every time you hear a store open, and you know it belongs to you, it feels like a sack.”
Jean Francois began his career with the San Francisco 49ers, then spent two seasons with the Colts and two more with the Washington Redskins. He began this season with the Green Bay Packers, who signed him in March, cut him in September, re-signed him a week later, then released him a second time last Wednesday.
He’s now with his fifth team, the Patriots, who play their home games just a few towns over from Dunkin’ Donuts’ world headquarters.
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images