Bankruptcy And Lockouts

Last week I mentioned that Vince Young was broke and could not pay back a loan that he had taken out during the NFL lockout a year ago. The overarching numbers in that case were surprising because it seems as if Young had somehow gotten rid of at least $26M since 2006 when he was drafted. However, he was an NFL QB, so he had that kind of money available to him, and it made sense for someone to lend him a couple of million dollars somewhere along the way. Now consider…

Rulon Gardner has also filed for bankruptcy – - the Chapter 7 flavor of bankruptcy whereby his assets are liquidated and creditors line up to get a share. In case the name Rulon Gardner only rings a distant bell in your memory, he is the US Olympic wrestler who beat the dominant Russian Olympic wrestler who had never lost a match. Gardner subsequently was stranded in a blizzard when he got lost on a snowmobile and lost a couple of toes to frostbite and he also survived a small plane crash when it plunged into a lake somewhere. You cannot say the guy has led a boring life…

His bankruptcy filing lists $2.934M in liabilities – $2.8M of which represent loans from company called West Coast Lending Group in Salt Lake City. That filing also says that Gardner and his wife jointly operate a fitness center with Gardner’s name on it and that they draw a monthly salary of just over $3K per month. He also lists as assets a house valued at just over $400K (no mention of the level of equity in the property), a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the Olympic medal.

As I said above, Vince Young was an NFL QB at the time he got his loan of a couple million dollars. NFL QBs in their 20s have a reasonable expectation of making a couple million dollars in salary over time such that repayment of the loan is probable if not certain. Compare that to Rulon Gardner’s situation as an Olympic wrestling champion who did not go into professional wrestling and whose weight had ballooned to such proportions that he was on the TV show “Biggest Loser” where he indeed lost close to 200 pounds. What was it in that curriculum vitae that might have suggested to the folks at West Coast Lending Group of Salt Lake City that Rulon Gardner was likely to be able to repay $2.8M in loans?

Related to this outbreak of “bankruptcy news”, here is a comment from Greg Cote in yesterday’s Miami Herald where he channeled Carnac The Magnificent:

“Answer: Vince Young is broke after squandering $26 million.

“Question: Who fails to crack the top 1 million of people I feel sorry for?”

Meanwhile the NHL lockout rolls on with no rumors of an imminent settlement. The league has canceled all of its exhibition games through the end of the month – imposing no hardship on anyone residing on Planet Earth – and some players have taken their talents to European hockey leagues to continue to add some money to their bank accounts. Alex Ovechkin is playing in a Russian league after the team there guaranteed that he would make something more than 60% of what his contract with the Washington Caps would have given him. So riddle me this:

    If he and some of his cohorts are willing to play in Europe for 35% less money than they might get in the NHL, why is there no agreement with the NHL?

In the long term, the difference is probably even more than the 35% salary differential. Nike pays players to hawk Nike gear – - but how many Nike clients get 8-figure deals with the company if those clients never show their face in North America? The same goes for other product endorsements.

I am sure there are lots of issues that need resolution in that CBA negotiation and I am equally certain that the league owners are nowhere near blameless in this matter. However, the fact that players are willing to play for significantly less money than they are making in the NHL tends to negate some of their posturing that they are doing this for the principle of the thing and that they are sorry that the fans cannot see any hockey until it is settled.

Here are NHL lockout comments from an assortment of sportswriters to put some perspective on the matter:

“The NHL is locked out of this column. The vote by the Keeping Score board of governors was unanimous. . . . There weren’t any serious negotiations, just like the NHL and NHLPA. . . . The only difference between Keeping Score’s situation and the NHL/NHLPA? Keeping Score isn’t overpaying anyone, nor is it overpaid.” [Gregg Drinnan, Keeping Score in the Kamloops Daily News]

“Stanley C. Panther was laid off because of the NHL lockout. Is there any sight sadder than a fully costumed mascot at an intersection washing windshields?” [Greg Cote, Miami Herald]

“To be honest, the only time I give my undivided attention to the NHL is when it’s having employer-employee issues. As it turns out, the NHL goes into labor turmoil about as often as an Antonio Cromartie girlfriend goes into labor.” [Norman Chad]

And speaking of lockouts, the NFL replacement refs seemed to take seriously the league memo that coaches were not to berate/intimidate officials. I saw two unsportsmanlike conduct flags on Sunday that were due to coaches – or assistants – behaving improperly. Someone on the Ravens’ bench drew a flag in the 4th quarter of the game against the Patriots. Kyle Shanahan – Redskins’ offensive coordinator and son of head coach Mike Shanahan – drew one with seconds left in the game and the Skins trailing by a TD. That penalty put the ball far enough back that the Hail Mary pass only made it to the ten yardline so even if it had been caught [It was not.] the game would have ended there. Here is what I find interesting about that situation:

This is the second week in a row that the Redskins have had an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the final 15 seconds of their game. Last week a player lost it; this week the offensive coordinator lost it.

    The player, Josh Morgan, stood in front of the media, took the blame for the incident and apologized.

    The coach – remember, he is the son of the head coach – did not speak to reporters after the game; he was unavailable. However, “Dad” said that he had no idea what was said that caused the flag. Unfortunately, none of the reporters there asked “Dad” when he might think it was appropriate to ask “Sonny” what the Hell he did to draw that flag at that point in the game…

Finally, here is one more item from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

“Parting thought: A 1.2-million-pound artificial underwater reef in the design of Stonehenge is planned just off Key Biscayne. The many fish whose avid interests include prehistoric archaeology are so excited.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • Siggurdsson  On September 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Stonehenge…the widdle fishies will love it…

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