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Austerity Bites NFL Players as Lockout Continues

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Back in April, it emerged that many NFL players -- 22% of whom apparently live paycheck-to-paycheck -- were taking out "extremely aggressive short-term loans" with interest rates as high as 36%.

"There are a lot of people out there pitching these things," an attorney who has advised players on such loans told Yahoo's on the condition of anonymity. "It’s almost predatory lending. It's people going to guys who they know are already in debt, or don’t have the ability to pay their bills during the year and [lending them money] at such obscene terms, that you say, 'Hey, no one would ever sign something like this.' But a lot of players are."

Bart Scott of the New York Jets was quoted as saying that "many players are going to be hurting," especially the "young guys" who "see what the older guys have, and they’re not there yet. They’re trying to catch up and keep up with the Joneses.”

However, one of those young guys, 24 year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Ed Gant, has been ordered (by his wife Capri) to implement Hellenic-style austerity measures while the lockout continues.

According to Bloomberg, Gant, who earns a relatively modest -- in pro athlete terms -- $335,000 per season, began by firing his gardener.

“I explained to him, ‘Baby, I guess you’ll be cutting the lawn and pulling weeds and cutting bushes,’” Capri Truvillion-Gant told reporters Aaron Kuriloff and Mason Levinson. “We made a trip to Home Depot and bought the gloves and he’s been doing it ever since."

The Gants also canceled their gym memberships, which doesn't sound like the wisest idea for a man who makes his living as a football player, but lean times sometimes demand drastic measures.

But, Buffalo Bills center Geoff Hangartner maintains that "any player who has encountered difficulty with his finances ... would be doing so even if there wasn't a labor dispute," says Vic Carucci of

"I think you're just hearing more about the problem that guys have dealing with money in this league," he said after a recent player-run workout. "I don't think it's just a problem with the lockout. It's an underlying problem, regardless."

With players cutting back, a broad swath of the small business community have begun to feel the effects of the owner-initiated lockout.

"This injunction is about far more than the paychecks of the players or the fortunes of the owners," a group of 44 businesspeople and local politicians wrote in a May 24 amicus brief filed in support of the players. "It is also about the livelihoods of the business owners whose livelihoods depend on NFL game day and the taxpayers and elected officials who have committed their scarce resources to the NFL enterprise."

The lockout means fewer customers at sports bars. Stadium employees will have no work. And Bruce Teilhaber of Atlanta's Friedman's Shoes will continue to feel the pinch.

As Friedman's website explains, when Teilhaber took over the shop from his father-in-law, he began odd lots of shoes, which included "oversizers" which immediately became big sellers among pro athletes. Today, customers include Willie McGinest, Chris Webber, and Shaquille O'Neal's mom, Lucille -- who wears a size 13.

Teilhaber tells Bloomberg's Kuriloff and Levinson that business is down 50% since the NFL's labor dispute began.

“They were told not to spend any money, and I guess a lot of them are not," he said. "Because I’ll tell you they’re not spending it here.”
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.