|Owens says he trusted the wrong people and now he's nearly broke and facing mounting bills. (Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
The NFL season may be over but that doesn't mean there's no football on the horizon. Yes, the NFL Combine is less than two weeks away but the same day that offensive linemen and tight ends go through their on-field paces at Lucas Oil Stadium, Terrell Owens will be making is IFL debut with the Allen Wranglers.
Okay, you were probably expecting a bit more in the "Wait, there's still football!" build up. And we suspect that, come Februrary 25, many of you will opt to watch 350-pound guys run 40 yards in a straight line (possible unintentional comedy value) over T.O.'s not-so-triumphant return to football (if you're into tragicomedy, then maybe Owens and the Wranglers are for you).
Part of the reason T.O. signed up for IFL duty is because he had burned a lot of NFL bridges. And of those left standing, no one was interested enough in a 37-year-old wide receiver with behavior-management issues to give him a shot. So the Wranglers, where Owens is also co-owner, was his only football-playing option. Exacerbating matters: T.O., who was in the NFL for 15 seasons and signed contracts worth $80 million, is nearly broke.
Appearing on ESPN Radio recently, Owens, however, said people shouldn't feel sorry for him.
"Absolutely not," he said via Sports Radio Interviews. "As far as my situation? The thought that I’ve lost $80 million dollars? That’s a little bit skewed considering like you said if you look at the years and the contracts that I have had and me not actually completing a couple of those contracts in their entirety.
"Again no matter what I have lost money," he continued. "It’s partially my fault because I didn’t manage and I wasn’t on top of my financial people as I should have. Again who’s to say how much I lost? Have I lost money? Yeah. Was it $80 million? I doubt it. But at the same time I feel like this is a situation for me to go out and speak and let a lot of guys know that are coming into the National Football League or any league for that matter … When you have financial advisors that you’re dealing with and that are on their team that are supposed to be taking care of their finances … I feel victim to it because I had heard about these stories prior to it happening to me and there’s going to be some other stories after me. The fact that I took for granted the orientations and the seminars that we had during the course of football season where these guys basically came in and tried to help us, facilitate us and educate us on your financial matters. I didn’t take advantage of that because I was referred to this guy that mismanaged my situation by my agent and my marketing guys."
Owens first spoke publicly about his financial situation in the January issue of GQ, even recounting one story where a friend, "a guy who I'd helped when his grandmother passed," drained one of his bank accounts of more than $270,000. He says the bank returned the money but "it pretty much destroyed whatever trust in people I had left." The article says that Owens never had many friends — teammates never called him to party, he says, wrongly assuming that he was "too big" to socialize — and now, "I don't have no friends. I don't want no friends. That's how I feel."
His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, called when he found out Owens had taken huge finiancial losses.
"When Drew heard about what had happened with my money, he said, 'Oh man, is there anything I can do?' " Owens told GQ. "And I said, 'Dude, are you going to give me my money back? I don't think so, so why bother trying to appease me?' " (Rosenhaus' response: "In my opinion, the conversation did not go down that way." )
Now T.O. is left with barely anything in the bank, plenty of Bills -- including child support payments to four women that total $44,600 a month -- and until he signed with the Wranglers, no discernible income.
"Now I’m even hungrier to get back on top and do the things I think the way I should have been doing it," he told ESPN Radio. "I’ve had some people who have supposedly been in my corner that have my bests interests in heart and I’ve come to find out that’s not what happened. Again I will reiterate it is partially my fault because I wasn’t doing my due diligence to be on top of my own finances and it’s a sad situation.”
And that brings us back to the Wranglers. T.O. will make his debut in 11 days.
"…I’m using this as a platform really to keep myself in shape. The business side of it too is something that intrigued me, being a co-owner with the team, so again this is me transitioning into life after football. That’s the business side of it, obviously football doesn’t last forever and I feel I’m physically fit and can play at a productive level to where I can play a couple more years in the National Football League and that’s what I’m pushing for," he said.
"Other than that I’m not going to give up hope just because somebody says that I’m 38 and I just had a knee injury. Injuries are part of the game. I think everybody knows my track record … I work out hard, I’m going to do whatever I can to get back on the field and get back to 100 percent and I’m doing that.”
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