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Friday, May 11, 2012
Updated: May 14, 9:48 AM ET
T.O. and lessons for mothers

By LZ Granderson
ESPN.com

To any single woman out there whose business plan involves having a professional athlete be her baby's daddy, I have four words for you: Don't do it, girl. The numbers are not in your favor, and here's why.

Terrell Owens
Maybe the players who laughed through the relationship sessions put on by their leagues will pay attention to T.O.'s story.

Nearly 80 percent of NFL players are bankrupt or under financial stress within two years of retirement. About 60 percent of NBA players are tapped out within five years of calling it quits. There are very few professional athletes who play for 18 years, meaning at some point before the child graduates from high school, the father will cease to make the big bucks that come from playing. If he's not financially savvy -- and the stats indicate a lot of them are not -- the hefty child support payments are going to grind to a complete stop.

Happy Mother's Day, ladies … enjoy your trip to court.

Or maybe TV.

Why Terrell Owens put his business out there on Dr. Phil's show this week is beyond me.

Maybe he got some bad advice; maybe he is addicted to reality TV; maybe he cannot let go of fame.

I've known the man for years and have had some great laughs with him, but this move was not funny. It was sad. I'm just going to assume the train wreck he allowed himself to be featured in with his baby mamas was part of a new training video to be shown at every rookie camp in every league from now until the end of time.

Either that, or an infomercial for condoms.

After all, young players are already warned about these scenarios but many continue to get caught up anyway. Maybe sticking a name as big as T.O.'s on the issue will catch their attention.

When Owens revealed that his child support payments reached as high as $50,000 a month, it wasn't surprising to hear he's just about broke and describes his well being as "I'm in hell."

No one suffers more than the children, who should be the lights of a parent's life, not relationship pawns, financial burdens or sources of income. I don't have a problem with a man who fathers children with multiple women as long as he's taking care of them. Nor do I have a problem with women who want to date athletes. I do, however, wonder what in the hell these women see in a guy who has a baby mama in every time zone. What kind of father are they envisioning that individual will be for their child?

It's a delicate conversation, I know. One that teeters between giving athletes a perceived pass for being promiscuous and misogynistic for questioning the sexual behavior of women. Honestly, I really don't care what other grown folks do in the privacy of their homes.

I do care, though, when they don't follow through on their responsibilities and it affects their children. Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie needed the team to advance him $500,000 in 2010 so he could pay for back child support before he signed a four-year, $32 million contract in 2011. Dude has a total of 10 children by eight women, including two kids with his wife. If he was having problems meeting the financial obligations for his children at 26, in the prime of his career, what is the situation going to look like when he's 38 and out of the league?

Dr. Phil
If a relationship is going to land you a spot across from Dr. Phil, think carefully before proceeding.

Will he still be able to pay child support?

Buy plane tickets to go see his children?

Have any money saved for the 10 to go to college?

Travis Henry had a child support bill of $14,000 a month when he was arrested for drug trafficking in 2008. At the time he had nine children by nine women and said he turned to crime to help pay the bills. It's crazy to father kids like that. It was just as crazy to want to have Travis Henry's baby. People mock Tim Tebow for saving himself for marriage, but I'm sure that's better than baby mama drama and levies.

There is a reason Mother's Day is a multibillion-dollar industry that overshadows Father's Day. Mothers don't just bring us into the world, they are the nurturers who seldom hesitate to be the protectors and providers of this world. They're also more likely to end up with the child when a relationship ends. It's difficult to take five steps in an NFL locker room and not talk to a player from a single-parent household headed by a woman. Yet despite the great stories and praise so many of those players have for their mothers, we see too many with children of their own in the same single-mom households.

I don't see how a professional athlete with kids and women peppered all around the country surfaces as the ideal candidate to be a good father. I'm sure the allure of the money and the fame is attractive to the single women who date these guys, but trying to hold on to those things is like trying to drink a cup of mist. The average career for NBA and NFL players lasts less than eight years. When the game and money are gone, what do these mothers have left?

You know, besides a hungry child to feed and a date in court.