The life of a professional athlete after their career has ended is always difficult. Some move seamlessly into a new career path. Most fall on hard times unfortunately.
Recently a few former Raiders have experienced this sad but common tale of hardship during life after football.
Last year Ray Guy had to sell off his Super Bowl rings at a bankruptcy auction. Recently it was revealed that the continued trials and tribulations of Ken Stabler have resulted in a $265,000 tax debt he’s unable to pay. And then there’s the unfolding saga of Anthony Smith who each week it seems is being linked to another murder case.
Of the three men mentioned it is easy to feel sympathy for Guy and Stabler. Both remain beloved figures in the silver and black family. Despite their struggles, especially Stabler, their legacies remain undamaged.
As if it isn’t enough that Ray Guy continues to be ignored by the Hall of Fame now he’s without his two most prized football possessions. Stabler’s struggles have been well documented over the years but to many his troubles only endear him more to the fans that lovingly supported him.
Now Smith is a much different story. Who knows what to make of his legal woes?
For starter’s it’s not like we’re talking about a guy that is considered among the all-time greats to wear the jersey. To be sure he was a very talented and productive defender but his reappearance in the headlines is more closely tied to all the false stereotypes associated with the Raiders.
Then again, when a man stands accused of impersonating an officer to kidnap a pair of brothers in order to carryout a gangland killing he could work for Dairy Queen and the story is sure to gain some traction in this media savvy world we live in.
Aside from Smith, it is easy to sit back and point the finger of blame at immature and irresponsible athletes for these types of transgressions. Many only see the fame and glamor of the sport without fully digesting the nature of being a pro. Most athletes are lucky to get three years out of their chosen field. Only a handful ever gets the mega-paydays we so openly discuss. Not to mention bankruptcy, tax debt and marital issues are problems that plague this country as a whole regardless of profession.
Smith, on the other hand, is just a tragic tale on all accounts. That he continues to be associated with murder trials and is currently poised for a re-trial yet hasn’t served any prison time says a lot. It says either he’s the most unfortunate man on the planet or that our justice system is more flawed than we’d care to admit.