It’s become a tired story in the world of professional sports.
A superstar athlete rakes in millions only to lose it all shortly after his or her career on the field/court ends.
The increased frequency of this phenomenon over the past year is what makes Warren Sapp’s tale little more than a blip on the bankruptcy radar. And yet it’s Sapp’s perpetual bravado — and his continued presence on television — that also makes his case seem different.
On Saturday, a report surfaced that the 39-year-old former defensive lineman and seven-time Pro Bowl selection had filed for bankruptcy. He joins a growing list of cash-strapped former stars that recently added the likes of Terrell Owens, Dennis Rodman, Lenny Dykstra and Allen Iverson.
As an analyst on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” and the NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access” Sapp maintained the outspoken style that elevated him from a dominant defensive lineman to a recognizable star. And that personality helped make up for a relative lack of grace on the dance floor as he finished second on Season 7 of “Dancing with the Stars.”
But even with a productive post-NFL career, Sapp has not been able cover his expenses. He currently owes more than $6.7 million to creditors and back child support and alimony, according to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing in South Florida. The court documents detail Sapp’s $6.45 million in assets which include nearly $6,500 worth of Jordan brand shoes and a $1,200 lion skin rug. Sapp currently earns a monthly income of $115,881.
But in a landscape of professional athletes who succumb to the temptation to shell out their earnings haphazardly with minimal, if any, foresight, Sapp appeared slightly more prepared for his second career. As San Jose Mercury News columnist Monte Poole writes, Sapp “seemed to have learned from his restless youth, when he fathered two children with his wife and two more with other women. Divorce made him more thoughtful and discerning. He retired with relative quiet and made a smooth transition to the TV studio.”
But things could still be worse for Sapp, who is under fire for Twitter comments he made about the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal. After the initial reports that the Saints had a bounty system under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Sapp tweeted that he “Just heard who the snitch was,” and then confirmed it was former Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey.
Sapp’s foray into reporting — and his choice of the word “snitch” to describe Shockey — nearly cost him his job with the NFL Network.
On Thursday, Sapp addressed an audio recording of Williams instructing Saints players to target specific San Francisco 49ers players and their previous injures.
“This is the most heinous, egregious thing in the history of this game,” Sapp told Contra Costa Times reporter Steve Corkran. “Not for one second would I sit in a room and listen to someone say, ‘We’re going to take out someone’s ACL’ without standing up and saying ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ The way you play defense isn’t about malice. It’s about putting you in fourth-and-more than you can handle.”
According to Sports Illustrated, 78 percent of NFL players and 60 percent of NBA players file for bankruptcy within two years of their retirement. Is exorbitant spending to blame? A lack of financial planning and education? Or a lack of common sense?
The NFL’s rookie symposium is supposed to provide fresh-out-of-college athletes with resources — or at least the knowledge — to manage their new riches. But when rookies and veteran quarterbacks alike continue to see their money evaporate, what more can and should be done?