In a special interview with GQ this month, former NFL Pro Bowl wide receiver Terrell Owens revealed that he's currently facing some very real financial problems. Despite reportedly making at least $80 million over the course of his illustrious professional football career, Owens still somehow found a way to fritter away his fortune in what he probably views as a series of unfortunate twists of fate.
According to T.O., his financial problems don't stem from falling into the traps that athletes usually fall into. He didn’t splurge on fancy cars or useless gadgets. He didn’t squander his dough away on jewelry or lavish parties. (At least not in his version of history). Rather, the reason that Owens fell on hard times, apparently, is because he’s too trusting.
Yes, too trusting. As per GQ:
Owens may have made a lot of money in his career—at least $80 million—but he insists almost all of it is gone.
It's not a matter of having lived too large—he was never the type to stockpile Ferraris or build himself a compound; the flashiest car he ever drove was a Mercedes, and while he indeed racked up a few homes that cost as much as $4 million, the only crib he classifies as even mildly sick by pro-ball standards was the one he bought in Atlanta to live in during the Philly off-season.
The problem, he says, is that he's by nature too trusting, loyal to a fault, despite everyone's carping that he's selfish. It's the sad old stereotypical song of the up-from-nothing black athlete: He let other people take care of things. He says his financial advisers (informally recommended by Rosenhaus) put him in a series of risky, highly leveraged ventures that he didn't discover until autumn 2010, when he finally demanded a full accounting. And of course there were the houses and condos, which he had always figured he could rent out; they became dead weight when the real estate market collapsed in 2008. Individually they weren't terribly lavish, but together the mortgage nut is reportedly almost $750,000 a year.
On top of all his other expenses, the at one point seemingly surefire Hall of Famer also owes nearly $45,000 per month in child support for the four children that he has with four different women.
Most observers on the sidelines will shake their heads at Owens’ current predicament and simply write him off as a cautionary tale. The fact of the matter is, though, his reported losses aren’t even the biggest by an athlete in recent memory. In fact, even the briefest of Google searches will lead you to five other big names who have managed to lose at least $50 million at some point in time.
Just a quick review:
Your Standard NBA Example – Antoine Walker. Despite an impressive and very entertaining 15-year NBA career during which he earned $110 million, Walker was forced to file for bankruptcy protection in 2010. In that filing, as per CNBC, he cited that his liabilities outweighed his assets by $9 million.
Your Standard MLB Example – Lenny Dykstra. Three years ago the former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies standout had a net worth of somewhere close to $60 million. By June 2011, according to the New York Times, Dykstra couldn’t even afford $500,000 bail.
Your Standard PGA Example – John Daly. Unlike the other people on this list, Daly actually bragged about the fact that he’s lost mountains of money. The difference between him and the other athletes who have squandered millions and millions of dollars is that Daly did it on his terms. According to the “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” enthusiast’s own proud stories (via ESPN), he threw away anywhere between $50 to $60 million on gambling losses alone.
Your Standard Boxing Example – Mike Tyson. Back in 2006, Tyson -- who earned and then found a way to lose more than $300 million in career earnings -- had to set out on an exhibition tour in an effort to raise money. This is what he said (via ESPN) at the time: “If I don't get out of this financial quagmire there's a possibility I may have to be a punching bag for somebody…The money I make here isn't going to help any of my bills really from a tremendous standpoint, but I'm going to feel better about myself. I'm not going to be depressed.”
Your Standard Example From Just Last Week – Kobe Bryant. You don’t have to be a degenerate gambler or irresponsible with your finances to lose upwards of $50 million. You can also be a serial cheater (allegedly) who married a girl from an Eastsidaz music video with no prenup. Kobe got to part ways with $75 million and three homes for his troubles.
So there you have it. Yes, Owens’ situation is sad and unfortunate in just about every possible way. But at this point, athletes losing massive fortunes has probably become common enough for us not to have to do this whole song and dance each time. Somehow these guys always find a way to make a little money and bounce back. What they do with their second (smaller) windfall of cash is far more telling than what they did with the first one.
As long as there are interviewers interested in talking to him and fourth-tier football leagues looking for attention, T.O. will be alright.