- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2002

Not every professional athlete has an agent like Jerry Maguire ethical, reliable, a kind of Surrogate Mommy. And the really unlucky ones wind up with somebody like Tank Black, the serpent who was sentenced to five years in federal prison last week for his part in a bogus investment scheme that cost his clients $12million to $14million.
Two of those clients, by the way, are among the flotilla of Florida Gators who have recently joined the Redskins. In the months ahead, Reidel Anthony and Jacquez Green hope to become famous around here for their pass-catching prowess, but right now they're just Two Guys Who Got Run Over by a Tank.
"It's tough," says Anthony, who saw about $1.4million go down the drain. "Tank became very close to my father and the rest of my family. He represented a lot of Florida players first me and Ike Hilliard, then Fred Taylor and Jacquez, then Jevon Kearse and Johnny Rutledge. We all stuck together [and went with the same agent]; we thought we could make him one of the top agents in the game."
Instead, Black's name has been blackened as, perhaps, no agent's has. Indeed, the whole business has been damaged by his shenanigans. Not only did he get five years in Florida, he also was sentenced to 82 months in Michigan for money laundering in connection with a drug operation.
(Maybe he and Fred Edelstein will be in adjacent cells.)
"He deserved what he got," says Green, some $500,000 poorer because of his association with Black. "It gets me [angry] when I think about it. I mean, when you set up your portfolio, you count on certain money being there [when you retire]. I'm not a real big spender, because you just don't know how long you're going to play in this league. I've already played five years, and I wasn't sure I'd last that long when I started out."
Yes, athletes are ridiculously well paid. But few can absorb the kind of financial hit Anthony and Green did without coming away a little bruised. Beyond that, though, there are the psychological scars; the two receivers put their trust in a man they thought was their friend and got taken advantage of. (And to make matters worse, so did some of the teammates they encouraged to Meet Tank Black.)
"Betrayed" is the word Green uses. Anthony, meanwhile, talks about "the bitter taste in your mouth." One of the great things about being drafted into the NFL, he says, is that "you have your own money now. You don't have to rely on your parents. But when something like this happens, it doesn't just mess with your future, it messes with your parents' future, because I was counting on taking care of them."
Until 1999, when the scam was exposed, Anthony had no inkling his money was being stolen. He would look at his monthly statements, and everything seemed to be in order. Even his father, a financial consultant, and his stepmother, a bank manager, didn't notice anything unusual. Then someone in the Tampa Bay Bucs front office told him "something was about to go down" with Black, but by then it was too late.
Green, on the other hand, had his suspicions. Each time he got a statement, he says, "the [value of his investment] was lower and lower." So he would call Black's office, and the secretary would assure him all was well. "But as it turned out, the numbers she brought up on her computer were completely different from the ones Tank had on his computer."
In January, Anthony and Green testified against their former agent in his trial in Gainesville, Fla. It was a wrenching experience. Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor who lost more than anybody in the fraudulent scheme, nearly broke down as he told the court how Black had robbed him of most of his $5 million signing bonus. Clarence Anthony, Reidel's father (and the mayor of South Bay, Fla.), even got on the witness stand and revealed that Tank had called him the month before and the gall asked him to pay fees that his son owed.
Black's lawyer, grasping at any available straw, got Anthony, Green and some of the others to admit they had accepted payments from Black while still at Florida. (The implication being what? that they should have known from the start they were dealing with a disreputable agent? That the players were guilty of "crimes," too?) The jury, to its credit, was unmoved and Black was led away in ankle chains.
Anthony and Green have barely talked to him since the scandal broke. And when they did, they say, he never offered any kind explanation or apology. "He just said, 'Don't believe what you're hearing,'" says Anthony. "'People are trying to get me [because he bought college players].'"
The players should be able to recover some of their losses in a civil suit, but they may never be quite whole. Green, for instance, has found himself a new financial guy, a Florida alum, but he was very careful who he handed his money to this time.
"I knew him 7 years before I went with him," he says. "After something like this, you just don't trust anybody."


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