- Warren Buffett advised NFL linesman Ndamukong Suh to be ready to buy when bargains appear.
- “He’s been super cash-heavy,” Suh told CNBC about his mentor. “It’s being prepared to make moves.”
- Suh has turned to Buffett for career advice and investing guidance for more than a decade.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Warren Buffett underscored the importance of being ready to pounce when he spoke to NFL linesman Ndamukong Suh a few weeks ago.
The billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO wasn’t talking about sacking quarterbacks or timing tackles on the football field, however. He was advising Suh to look out for bargains in the business world, and keep some money on hand to snap them up.
“As you can see, he’s been super cash-heavy,” Suh said about Buffett in a recent CNBC interview. “It’s being prepared to make moves and see where there’s opportunities in the market.”
Indeed, Berkshire boasted about $139 billion in cash, Treasury bills, and other short-term investments at the last count. Buffett remains eager to spend a big chunk of those funds on an “elephant-sized acquisition,” but had to settle for announcing more than $35 billion of investments in the third quarter of 2020.
Buffett’s guidance has turned Suh’s focus to the beaten-down hospitality sector, he told CNBC. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers player expects the ongoing rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, pent-up demand from lockdowns, and the boom in delivery and takeaway services to underpin a strong recovery for restaurants.
Unlike Buffett, who generally takes passive stakes in businesses, Suh probably won’t be content to sit on the sidelines.
“I would say I’m a hands-on investor,” he told CNBC. “I like to get my hands dirty. I like to add value, which is why I like to be an adviser to companies if I’m not a board member or a venture partner.”
Buffett has coached Suh for years
Suh first met Buffett as a senior at the University of Nebraska more than a decade ago. The Berkshire chief became his mentor, and Suh seeks his advice a few times a year as he prepares to focus on investing once he retires from football.
“All you have to do is pick up the phone and he’s always there to answer,” Suh told Bloomberg in 2019. “I’ve learned a handful of things from him and continue to do so.”
For example, Suh signed with the Los Angeles Rams in 2018 in part because of Buffett. California’s hefty taxes were offset by the “intrinsic value” of its cities, the investor told him.
Indeed, Suh was able to connect with basketball icon-turned-businessman Magic Johnson and sports-team investor Peter Guber while living in the state.
Suh isn’t just looking for ways to get rich quick when he speaks to Buffett.
“I want to understand him as a person, not a stock tip or the next thing he’s getting involved in,” Suh told The Wall Street Journal in 2014. “I want to understand what made him successful.”
Meanwhile, Buffett appreciates Suh’s business acumen and the comedic value of their dramatically different statures.
“I’m just glad he’s not running against me for a board spot,” Buffett told The Journal. “Everyone tries to hustle sports stars. I think he knows I’m not trying to take him; I’m not trying to get involved in his finances.”
Buffett armwrestled the six-foot-four, 305-pound linesman on live television in 2015, and jokingly sent an injury waiver to Suh beforehand.
“I, Ndamukong Suh, hereby release Warren Buffett from any claims for physical injury that I may suffer in the arm wrestling contest…” the form read.