Wednesday whys: A good deal gone awry

Today’s Wednesday Whys feature several questions from readers, plus a few of my own from recent news items.

Why is the release of a Saints long snapper interesting from the perspective of a failed investment in a film studio in New Orleans?

This is a fascinating under-the-radar story that has emerged since the Saints – in an oddly timed move – released their long snapper, Kevin Houser, and replaced him with an older long snapper, Jason Kyle.

Houser, it turns out, was an investor in a movie studio designed to take advantage of a tax credit program offered through Louisiana's motion picture studio incentives. Houser put in $125,000 and must have had some strong marketing skills, as he convinced teammates, friends, coaches and colleagues to put in another combined $1.8 million into the project.

Among the investors were defensive end Charles Grant, with the largest investment of $425,000; former punter Mitch Berger at $250,000, and Saints coach Sean Payton at $144,000. The group also included $80,000 from Jeremy Shockey and Archie Manning.

The selling point to the investors was that for every dollar invested, they would receive $1.33 in a credit lowering their state income tax, all in the name of encouraging movie studios to film their projects in Louisiana.

It all sounded good until, well, it didn’t work. The 27 investors have since discovered that the studio project – Louisiana Film Studios -- never received state authorization for the credits, and now their money is gone. Studio officials are saying the money will be returned to the investors once they get new investors. Sound familiar, Mr. Madoff?

Manning has said that Houser originally contacted him about the investment, suggesting some initial marketing of the campaign by Houser. Is his late-June release following the revelation of this failed investment just a coincidence? The timing is curious.

Tough week for Houser. He lost his $125,000 investment and his job. Moreover, it is this week’s cautionary tale for professional football players and their limited earnings. With people like Bernie Kosar, one of the most cerebral players to play the game, and Michael Vick, once the highest-paid player in the sport, now in bankruptcy, the message can’t get any louder: It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.

Why are some people judging Michael Jackson’s personal life, yet we’re not hearing much about Steve McNair’s supposed cheating on his wife, only his football achievements?

Although there certainly has been discussion of the circumstances surrounding McNair’s personal life at the time of his death, this is a fair question. At the end of the day, however, we remember the good about people. For Jackson, it was his special music, dancing and creative talents that were a part of an entire generation (mine).

For McNair, we will always remember his toughness, natural leadership and ability to succeed from a background where so many have failed. It’s clear from comments and reactions that he had a dramatic effect on people he knew and played with. As I wrote Monday, his agent, Bus Cook – someone I have known for more than a decade through Brett Favre – truly loved the guy.

The other fact I’ve learned in more than 20 years of working with professional football players is that, for the most part, they live in a different world than you or I. Too often, though, that world comes crashing down when the music stops – their playing days and celebrity wane. For a player like McNair, his popularity had staying power, especially in Nashville, where he achieved his greatest professional accomplishments.

Let’s not forget, however, what the truly unfortunate story is here: There are four children who lost their father. More than anything that’s been said or written about McNair, they are the story. Our hearts ache for them.

Why did Darnell Dockett announce that he would not be holding out from training camp with the Cardinals?

It’s the latest strategy from Dockett and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to get the new deal he’s been seeking. The previous strategy, to complain publicly and seek a trade, did not work. Of course, he really didn’t want to be traded; he wanted a new contract, and still does.

Dockett can look around the locker room and read the tea leaves. Adrian Wilson, who was quiet about his under-market contract, was recently rewarded with what I felt was an extremely strong contract given his age and position (five years, $39 million, $18.5M guaranteed for a safety who will be 30 in October). On the other side of the locker room, Anquan Boldin has been asking for a renegotiation for two years, sometimes quite publicly, with no results. Wilson’s method, which Dockett is now publicly following, seems to be the winner in Arizona. The problem for Dockett is that he has three years remaining on his deal, compared to one for Wilson when he did his deal and two for Boldin.

Why do the Vikings make fans buy tickets to a preseason game if they want to see the Packers game?

This is nothing new and occurred when Favre was playing for the guys in green and gold. It’s a simple way of ensuring ticket sales to a game that has little appeal by tying it to a game that will always sell out, no matter who’s playing quarterback.

Variable pricing is becoming the norm in sports for single-game ticket sales. Although this is not a typical case of variable pricing, its effect is the same.

Why is Favre making the Vikings wait so long before formally signing with them?

Because he can.

Why do Commissioner Roger Goodell and I have something in common climbing the highest peaks in the country?

Goodell is attempting to climb the second-highest peak in the lower 48 states, Mt. Rainier at 14, 411 feet. On July 20, yours truly will attempt to summit the highest peak in the lower 48, Mount Whitney, at 14, 496 feet. Unlike the reasoned and well-organized commissioner, who is summitting over a couple days with a guide, I will attempt to do Whitney in one day, leaving in the wee hours of the morning to try to reach the 11 miles by noon before heading down. Assuming altitude sickness does not get the better of me, I will be writing my Wednesday Whys the next day. God willing…

Follow me on Twitter: adbrandt.

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