(CNN) After signing his first contract as a starter with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2001, you might have forgiven Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson for thinking he made it.
But while other NFL The newcomers were pouring in big houses and fast cars, and the wide receiver was more focused on living frugally and advancing his game.
Johnson, who enjoyed 11 seasons in the NFL, says that instead of spending money on a new home, he spent the first two years of his career in Bengals Stadium.
“What’s the point? Why would you tell me to go rent a house, or go buy a house, or go rent an apartment when everything I need is right here in the facility?”
“Shower, cafeteria, TV, couch, game system. What was the point? I was so cooped up. It wasn’t about having my own space.”
Johnson said the grounded approach helped lay the foundation upon which he built his successful NFL career.
He spent 10 seasons with the Bengals before ending his playing days with a shortstop in the New England Patriots, making six Pro-Bowl teams.
“I needed this year to lock up the rhythm. The second year I got that rhythm,” he said, adding that it was Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis who ultimately convinced him to get his own spot.
Despite earning millions during his career, Johnson says he was never tempted to buy expensive clothes and fast cars.
He claims to have never purchased real jewelry during his career, and to this day, the 45-year-old says he sees no point in getting carried away with his wealth.
“There is nothing I can buy more than my name alone,” he said, estimating that he had saved more than 80% of his salary while playing.
“Everyone is stuck in the picture, looking a certain way, being rich. It’s pointless.”
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