Brother can you spare $25M

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They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob. When there was earth to plow or guns to bear. I was always there right on the job. They used to tell me I was building a dream of peace and glory ahead. Why should I be standing in line just waiting for bread? Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time. Once I built a railroad, now it’s done, Brother, can you spare a dime? (from the Dave Brubeck song “Brother, can you spare a dime” lyrics by Bing Crosby)

Newsflash—The New York Mets received a loan from Major League Baseball in November in order to cover operating expenses the team admitted last week. The New York Daily News and the New York Times put the amount of the “loan” at $25 million.

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Before we get too deep, here are a few athletes that have failed financially. In 1991 Raghib “Rocket” Ismail passed on the NFL to play in the Canadian Football League for a then-unprecedented $18.2 million. According to Bloomberg.com, he eventually retired from the NFL in 2001 and subsequently lost millions on a series of bad investments, including a religious movie, a music company, and calligraphy shops. Shysters ripped Ismael off time and time again by selling “get richer quicker” investments.

Another athlete taken full advantage of was MLB pitcher Scott Eyre, who retired in 2010. Eyre was slapped around during the recent stock market/investment madness. His money was tied up in the $8 billion fraud allegedly perpetrated by Texas financier Robert Allen Stanford. Eyre told the New York Post that 99 percent of his fortune is frozen and possibly gone.

Former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield is another one who was given his money in a bank deposit bag with red dye packets waiting for him to open it. They got him for $250 million. “I’m not broke; I’m just not liquid,” Holyfield said. The banks foreclosed on his $10 million dollar crib. Looks like brother lost more than just an ear. Financially it appears as if he lost both legs and both arms, plus his shirt.

Lawrence Taylor, legendary Giants Hall of Fame linebacker, became a sort of “social butterfly” after hanging up his cleats. Most of the $50 Million “Yen” that he sweated to earn on the gridiron went down the drain. There almost always seemed to be a party over here, party over there, hey there was destined to be a party anywhere that “L.T.” showed up.

I cannot be sexist here. Figure skating icon Dorothy Hamill, “America’s sweetheart,” got greased for $1-2 million per year of her endorsement loot for a few years. Bad ice rink investment, stuff like that. Also WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes’ money “management experts” literally offered to help her invest her $50 million but instead they just seemed to have helped themselves to as much of the hoops star’s loot as they could carry.

Why should MLB, the NBA, or the NFL be providing stimulus and loan packages to teams and owners when they make questionable and financially unsound investments? The athletes mentioned above made, spent and lost money and that was the name of that tune. No one bailed them out. There seems to even be a slight Bernie Madoff connection here, remember him? Madoff was only the biggest financial snake oil salesman in the history of these United States of America.

Mets owner Fred Wilpon, brother-in-law and team president Saul Katz and various family members and entities related to Sterling Equities are facing a lawsuit seeking $1 billion. The legal action by Irving H. Picard, the trustee recovering funds for victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, alleges Mets owners knew, or should have known, about the fraud. Total losses in the Ponzi scheme are estimated at around $20 billion (ESPN New York).

The private investors that lost all of their hard earned life savings to the skullduggery of Madoff have no financial recourse. They will more than likely live the remainder of their lives and eventually die, destitute.

The aforementioned athletes also aren’t receiving any financial reprieve from the hastily and misinformed investments that they had faith in. They have been left out to dry. They must share a certain amount of the blame for the loss of their good fortune but the slicksters, shysters, and financial planners must also assume a large percentage.

If the Mets were greedy enough to trust “Uncle Bernie” with the username and password to their bank account then they should suffer the consequences, just like Mr. and Mrs. Main Street. I keep hearing about “welfare to work.” There is a covert corporate welfare system in place that is dealt with in “horse whisperer” level tones. Corporate and sports ownership whispers something very softly. They have a saying; “What’s mine, is mine. What’s yours is mine and what’s ours is mine.” Brother can you spare a few million? Go NFLPA.

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412-583-6741.)

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