National Football League veteran Ndamukong Suh has always mixed football with finance, considering things like state taxes when weighing where to play.
Florida has no state income tax, which is one reason Suh, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound defensive lineman, said he chose to play for the Miami Dolphins after leaving the Detroit Lions following the 2014 season.
Prior to this past season, however, Suh signed with the Los Angeles Rams, and California’s tax rate is among the highest in the nation. The 32-year-old did so on the advice of longtime friend Warren Buffett, who told the former University of Nebraska star that all cities aren’t equal, particularly to an athlete-investor with interests in restaurants, technology, and real estate.
“As Mr. Warren Buffett has always said: There’s intrinsic value in certain cities,” Suh said on the Bloomberg Business of Sports podcast. “So, even though L.A. and the state of California have very high taxes, there’s a lot of intrinsic value that I’ve been able to lean on.”
Suh signed a one-year, $14 million contract with the Rams and said he pocketed about half of that. He said being in L.A. has allowed him to develop relationships with people like Dodgers part-owner Magic Johnson and Mandalay Entertainment Chairman Peter Guber, also an investor in the Dodgers, as well as basketball’s Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Football Club of Major League Soccer.
“I’ll take a hit in taxes to be able to have the opportunity to be close to those people,” said Suh, whose principal residence is in Texas, which also has no state income tax.
Suh is a free agent, meaning he can sign with any NFL team. Should he want advice on what to do next, he said the multibillionaire Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman, whom he met as a senior in college, is always available.
“All you have to do is pick up the phone and he’s always there to answer,” said Suh—who, by the way, said he owns “plenty” of Berkshire Hathaway shares, declining to be specific. “I’ve learned a handful of things from him and continue to do so.”