Cal Sports: Which Former Bears Have Made the Most Money in the Pros?

Aaron Rodgers owns the highest all-time NFL passer rating, so he has earned his money.Photo by Matthew Emmons, USA Today

Aaron Rodgers holds the No. 1 spot over Jason Kidd, and the Packers quarterback will continue to extend his lead

Cal is known for its engineering and biomedical programs, its law school and the Haas School of Business. Berkeley grads often are high earners.

But many former Cal athletes also have fared well financially in their chosen professions. We start with the Bears’ top-five money-winners of all-time, then dive into details on the 12 we have lifted from the crowd.

The Top-5

Aaron Rodgers, NFL: $204 million*

Jason Kidd, NBA: $187.6 million

Shareef Abdur-Rahim, NBA: $95.8 million

Jeff Kent, MLB: $86.2 million

Ryan Anderson, NBA: $78.5 million*

* Active

Photo by Winslow Townson, USA Today

Jaylen Brown, NBA

Cal year: 2015-16

Pro earnings: $9.7 million (Source: basketball-reference.com)

Note: On the doorstop of NBA stardom, Brown will earn nearly $5.2 million from the Celtics in his upcoming third season. Not bad for a guy who won’t turn 22 until late October.

Photo courtesy of Cal athletics

Natalie Coughlin, Olympic swimmer

Cal years: 2001-03

Pro earnings: Estimated net worth of about $2 million. (Source: CelebrityNetWorth.com)

Note: The three-time Olympian and winner of 12 medals had sponsorship deals with Speedo, O’Neill 365, California Dried Plum Board, BMW, Omega Watches, TD Ameritrade, H2O Audio and Pantene, according to CNBC.

Photo by Kirby Lee, USA Today

Jared Goff, NFL

Cal years: 2013-15

Pro earnings: $23.7 million for his career, including an $18.5 million signing bonus in 2016. Goff will be paid about $3 million in 2018. (Source: spotrac.com)

Note: In 2019, the final year of his original four-year contract with the Rams, Goff will earn $4.2 million. By comparison, his father Jerry, a Major League catcher for six seasons, was paid $145,000 by the Pirates in 1994.

Jackie Jensen, MLB

Cal years: 1946-48

Pro earnings: Jensen was paid $38,000 by the Red Sox in 1959, the year after hitting 35 home runs and driving in 122 runs to win the American League MVP award. (Source: baseball-reference.com)

Note: A football and baseball star at Cal, Jensen signed with the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League in 1949, then was traded to the Yankees, where he was expected to become Joe DiMaggio’s successor. Instead, as Mickey Mantle arrived in New York, he was sent packing, eventually winding up in the same Boston outfield as Ted Williams.

Photo courtesy of Cal athletics

Kevin Johnson, NBA

Cal years: 1983-84 through 1986-87

Pro earnings: $31.7 million (Source: basketball-reference.com)

Note: KJ earned $8 million in his final full season of 1997-98, about 64 times his 2016 salary of $123,000 in the final year of his two terms as mayor of Sacramento. Of course, most mayors haven’t dunked on Hakeem Olajuwon.

Photo courtesy of Cal athletcs

Joe Kapp: Canadian Football League/NFL

Cal years: 1956-58

Pro earnings: Kapp’s top annual salary was $200,000 in 1970 with the Boston Patriots. (Source: New York Times)

Note: After leading the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl after the 1969 season, Kapp reportedly demanded a five-year, $1.25 million contract, but the Vikings offered him $100,000 over three seasons. After playing the 1970 season with the Patriots, he sat out in 1971 then filed a multi-million-dollar suit against the Patriots and the NFL, challenging the nature of NFL contracts. He never collected anything. In a 2016 interview with ESPN, Kapp said, “I read they're going to pay a player $50 million? I got four tacos and an enchilada.”

Photo courtesy of Cal athletics

Jeff Kent, MLB

Cal years: 1987-89

Pro earnings: $86.2 million (Source: baseball-reference.com)

Note: Kent’s highest salary was $10 million with the Astros in 2004. In 2000, when he was the National League’s MVP with the Giants, Kent earned $6 million.

Photo courtesy of Cal athletics

Jason Kidd, NBA

Cal years: 1992-93 through 1993-94

Pro earnings: $187.7 million (Source: basketball-reference.com)

Note: The Hall of Famer from St. Joseph Notre Dame High School reportedly was paid $23 million for five seasons as an NBA head coach, bringing his total NBA earnings to about $211 million.

Photo by Kelley L. Cox, USA Today

Marshawn Lynch, NFL

Cal years: 2004-06

Pro earnings: $57.1 million for his career. 2018 salary: $4.4 million. (Source: spotrac.com)

Note: In 2016, Business Insider reported that Lynch had not spent any of his NFL earnings to that point, but was living off endorsement deals with Nike, Pepsi, Skittles, Progressive, and Activision. Later, in a joint 60 Minutes Sports/Sports Illustrated interview, Lynch said that was not true. “I’m very much human,” he said.

Photo courtest of Cal athletics

Andy Messersmith, MLB

Cal years: 1963-65

Pro earnings: $1.3 million (Source: baseball-reference.com)

Note: Messersmith, who earned just $15,000 in his rookie season of 1969, was a right-handed pitcher who became a 20-game winner with the Dodgers in 1974. Seeking a raise from his $90,000 salary that season, Messersmith (and Dave McNally) played the 1975 season without contracts. Curt Flood was the first to challenge baseball’s reserve clause, which bound players to their teams. But Messersmith was among the first to benefit. After arbitrator Peter Seitz granted him free agency in 1976, Messersmith signed a three-year, $1 million deal with the Braves, and the salary race was on.

Photo by David Richard, USA Today

Alex Morgan: Olympic soccer

Cal years: 2007-10

Pro earnings: Morgan reportedly earned $450,000 with the French club Olympique Lyon in 2017, making her the second-highest-paid women’s player in the world. (Source: portada-online.com)

Note: Some media outlets claim Morgan earned as much as $3 million in 2015, of which 90 percent came from endorsements.

Photo by Jeff Hanisch, USA Today

Aaron Rodgers, NFL

Cal years: 2003-04

Pro earnings: $204 million for his career. He will earn a staggering $66.9 million this season, which includes a one-time $57.5 million signing bonus. (Source: spotrac.com)

Note: Already Cal’s all-time, highest-paid athlete, Rodgers this summer signed a $134 million contract extension that could be worth $176 million if he hits all the incentives by completion of the deal in 2023. Additionally, Rodgers earned $9 million off the field in 2017 through memorabilia, royalties and endorsement deals with adidas, State Farm, Prevea Health, Bergstrom Automotive, Sharpie and IZOD, according to Forbes.

Photo by Aaron Doster, USA Today

And a dozen more worth noting:

Keenan Allen, NFL: $32 million*

Jahvid Best, NFL: $7.9 million

Kyle Boller, NFL: $15.9 million

Andre Carter, NFL, $46.4 million

Allen Crabbe, NBA: $39.6 million*

Tony Gonzalez, NFL, $72.7 million

DeSean Jackson, NFL: $69.3 million*

Darren Lewis, MLB: $13.6 million

Alex Mack, NFL: $60.9 million*

Brandon Mebane, NFL $41.4 million*

Bob Melvin, MLB: $3.2 million - a

Lamond Murray, NBA: $43.5 million

Xavier Nady, MLB: $20.2 million

* Active

a - Melvin’s earnings as player only; his A’s manager salaries just the past two seasons (approximately $4.2 combined) exceed his player career totals.

Check out our other Cal "list" stories:

Cal's Surprising History in Games Following a Bye

The Greatest Jason Kidd Games While He Was at Cal

Ranking the 10 Best Current NFL Players from Cal

The Most Lopsided Wins in Cal Football History

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