|Young somehow burned through nearly $26 million since coming into the league in 2006. (US Presswire)|
Last September, weeks after the Bills cut Vince Young, the attorney for the former first-round pick suggested that Young was close to broke even though he signed a contract in 2006 that guaranteed him $26 million. (In related news: reportedly spending $5,000 a week at the Cheesecake Factory doesn't qualify as a sound financial plan.)
Young's story isn't unusual; in fact, it's often the all-too-familiar conclusion to what happens when fame and fortune are thrust upon 20-something athletes with no idea how to deal with either. (ESPN's 30 for 30 devoted a documentary to the phenomenon.)
Also not unusual: Young's situation will get worse before it gets better. Which brings us to the latest revelation, courtesy of Young's former financial adviser, who said that he arranged a seven-figure, high-interest loan for Young during the 2011 lockout so the quarterback could throw himself a $300,000 birthday party -- even though Young was low on funds at the time.
First, what does a $300,000 birthday party look like? There better be real-life transformers and time machines because anything less than that is a rip off. Second, who's the financial adviser that green-lights a seven-figure loan knowing full well that his client is pretty much broke? That sounds more like your drunk college roommate who thinks using the last $20 in your bank account to buy six cases of Milwaukee's Best is a great idea -- except 15,000 times worse.
Anyway, we know about Young's predicament because the Associated Press obtained a transcript of the deposition given by Ronnie Peoples, president and CEO of Peoples Financial Service Inc. Peoples said last month that he contacted Pro Player Funding LLC about the loan after learning that Young had already paid for the party.
"I think we still would have been OK to go ahead and survive until the next season, but [Young] had a birthday event coming up that he paid 300 and some thousand dollars for,'' Peoples testified. ''That's what prompted that call [to ProPlayers Funding].''
Young's attorney, Trey Dolezal, responded thusly: "I have no idea what he's talking about with the birthday party and neither does Vince."
Young is challenging a $1.7-million judgment obtained against him by Pro Player Funding last summer. According to the AP, the sum represents the balance of $1.9 million borrowed at a 20 percent interest rate in Young's name in May 2011. He testfied in December that he "probably" signed some of the loan documents in front of a notary at a Houston law office, but had no need for the loan. (Weird, we know.)
Peoples disputed Young's account, testifying that he discussed the loan with Young, and that funds from said loan were used to satisfy the quarterback's "obligations."
Dolezal, in turn, disputes that Young and Peoples ever met to discuss the loan.
"[Young] does believe he may have signed three pieces of paper that were notarized, but he was told they were banking instruments, that they needed his signature for some banking documents,'' Dolezal said.
Wherever the truth lies in regard to the loan, this much we can all agree on: Young wasn't good with money.
Peoples, asked to describe Young's financial situation in May 2011, call it "Not good." And Dolezal admitted that millions could've been unaccounted for during that time.
''The fact is we don't have documentation to show where about $5 million to $7 million is,'' he said.
It's hard to feel sorry for a grown man who somehow blows through tens of millions of dollars. But this problem pervades professional sports, and it doesn't have to. For as serious as the NFL claims to be about player safety, it needs to be just as fanatical when it comes to financial management.
That doesn't absolve Young for being stupid with his money, but there's no reason for a 29-year-old who signed an eight-figure contract in 2006 to be nearly broke, either.