It's easy to scoff when you hear about a former professional athlete who's struggling financially. Aren't these guys all millionaires? If they haven't saved enough for retirement, isn't that their own fault? But the current recession hasn't spared pro athletes, and increasing numbers of them are finding themselves in dire financial straits.
USA Today recently told the story of Willie Davis, the Pro Football Hall of Famer who played defensive end for Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers in the 1960s. Davis, who spent his NFL off-seasons working on an MBA at the University of Chicago, was long considered one of the most astute businessmen in the NFL. But this year Davis saw the $9 million he held in stock in Alliance Bank of Culver City, California disappear when state and federal regulators shuttered the bank.
Davis, however, is trying to look on the bright side. He had enough money invested elsewhere that he could afford to lose $9 million, and he now says, "I've survived. I don't waste a lot of time thinking about it. It's gone, I realize that. I just try to move on."
Former NFL quarterback Bernie Kosar files for bankruptcy protection in Miami. Kosar's Chapter 11 filing lists liabilities of between $10 million and $50 million, including almost $1.5 million in "unsecured debt" to the Cleveland Browns. Click through the gallery to see more sports stars who have dealt with money trouble.
Jamie-Andrea Yanak, AP
Mets legend Jerry Koosman could face up to one year in prison after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion. Koosman defrauded the government out of as much as $90,000, assistant U.S. attorney John Vaudreuil said. Sentencing is set for July 21.
Rich Pilling, Getty Images
Michael Vick, once the NFL's highest-paid player, is finishing a nearly two-year sentence under house arrest for dogfighting charges. He agreed to pay the Atlanta Falcons $6.5 million as part of his bankruptcy case, clearing the way for the team to release him.
Haraz N. Ghanbari, AP
Tennis legend John McEnroe was one of the many victims duped in a sophisticated $88 million art investment scam. McEnroe reportedly lost $2 million after investing a half share in two paintings, Arshile Gorky's "Pirate I and II."
Nathaniel S. Butler, NBAE / Getty Images
NFL running back Deuce McAllister allegedly owed Nissan more than $6.6 million in a dispute over his car dealership. In March, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation filed suit against McAllister's dealership, and federal marshals reportedly targeted its inventory.
Bill Haber, AP
New York Yankees' Johnny Damon, left, and Xavier Nady were among the investors whose finances were previously frozen because of money they had with a company affiliated with Robert Allen Stanford.
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In January, ex-slugger Jose Canseco battled against Danny Bonaduce in a boxing match because he's strapped for cash and claims to have squandered nearly $45 million. Canseco also tried his hand at mixed martial arts in May, but lost his debut in embarrassing fashion to giant Korean fighter Hong Man Choi.
Louis Lanzano, AP
According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, Knicks center Eddy Curry was sued by Casual Male Retail Group in December 2008 for $41,000 in unpaid clothing bills.
Rocky Widner, NBA
In May, former Oakland Athletics first baseman Troy Neel pleaded guilty to charges that he fled to a tiny South Pacific island to avoid paying about $725,000 in child support for his kids in Texas. Neel now faces as much as two years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
Texas Attorney General / AP
Evander "Real Deal" Holyfield, shown here in 2002, is reportedly in financial trouble with multiple sources. In October 2008, Holyfield was back in court, again facing the possibility of jail time in a child-support case, but a settlement was reached.
W. A. Harewood, Getty Images
Harry Carson, a Hall of Fame linebacker for the New York Giants, does charitable work with former players who have lost their post-football jobs and are now struggling just to make ends meet. Carson explains that for the players who played in the days before multimillion-dollar salaries were commonplace, the recession has hit especially hard:
"They're the guys who made the transition to life after (sports). They did the right things; they just went on with their lives," Carson says. "They haven't bothered anybody. They haven't asked for anything. All of a sudden: Bam! They're out of a job. ... Those are the guys my heart goes out to. ...
"You can hear the desperation in their voice."
Carson has worked to support the NFL Alumni Dire Need Fund, which is financed by NFL owners and helps pay the bills of players who are out of work. NFL Alumni President Frank Krauser says it's a cause not unlike those that support people struggling from all walks of life.
"Retired players experience the same economic problems that everybody else in America has," Krauser told USA Today. "Whatever goes in the general population also affects our membership."