NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Want to be a part of the NFL action but missed out on your chance to be a minimum-experience-required replacement referee? Try the real estate market instead.
The pros were back in zebra stripes last weekend, but plenty of the pros they officiate are looking for a few good football fans to fill their shoes. And shoe closets. And walk-in closets. And man caves.
Transience is just part of a professional athlete's job description. NFL players get traded, cut and put out to pasture each year and ex-NFL stars move just as much while chasing broadcast jobs, career opportunities and cash to pay back creditors. That makes the high-end real estate market a melange of young players' starter homes, veteran mansions bought a team ago and NFL legends' Hall Of Fame homesteads in need of downsizing.
With help from real estate sites
and Trulia, we thumbed through the listings and found nine properties NFL players past and present have put up for grabs recently. Take off the replica jersey and bring the checkbook:
The highest bid
How do you go from one of the most intense, vociferous and well-paid defensive linemen in the game to losing your national championship and Super Bowl rings, having less than $900 in your checking account and being buried under nearly $7 million in debt? You can ask Warren Sapp, but it may be the only topic Sapp won't expound on at high volume. Sapp earned $77 million during his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders, but a series of bad investments, lax tax payments and alimony and child support obligations put Sapp in the red. He has filed for bankruptcy, has a lien against his earnings and has to sell his 240-pair, size 15 sneaker collection as part of a court-ordered asset liquidation.
He's also being forced to auction off his house. It was already on the market for $3.8 million. Given the state of Florida's floundering real estate market, his 10,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, six-and-a-half-bath home in Windmere will likely fetch far less at a U.S. Bantruptcy Court-ordered auction Nov. 1.
Baltimore Ravens feature running back Ray Rice just signed a $40 million contract extension this summer. He put up 101 yards and a touchdown in a win over his team's hated rivals, the New England Patriots, two weeks ago. Last week he ran for more than 80 yards against Cleveland for the sixth-straight time. So why is he still living in an empty-nester condo in Pikesville?
Ray and his teammates have likely asked the same question since he got his big payday. Teammate Ray Lewis owns a 28-acre estate in Reisterstown that makes Rice's 2,100-square-foot hovel look like a walk-in closet. To keep up with Lewis and his own pay grade, Rice put his four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom pad on the market for the bargain price of $339,900. That's a bit less than the $350,000 he paid for it in 2008, but with homes in Pikesville losing near 6% of their value in the last year, it may be the price Rice has to pay to sprint to greener pastures.
Michael Strahan's Hermosa Beach townhouse
It used to be Strahan sacking people for losses back when the league's single-season sacks king was leading the New York Giants' defense. Now that Strahan's about to take a seat next to Kelly Ripa, assume Regis Philbin's morning talk show duties and marry Eddie Murphy's ex-wife Nicole, he's the one feeling the pressure.
Strahan's parting with a 2,560-square-food home in Hermosa Beach, Calif., for nearly $400,000 less than he paid for it back in 2005. The lucky fan who takes over possession after Strahan's loss will get three bedrooms, three and a half baths, two master suites, two large living spaces, a gourmet kitchen, an elevator and rooftop deck. They'll also get Strahan's custom touches, including hardwood, marble and slate flooring, granite counters and high-end appliances. It's a bit of a hit for Strahan, but a good pickup for savvy fans seeking his view of the shoreline.
Even longtime San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots fans might have trouble splurging for this football souvenir from one of the league's most formidable linebackers. This 2,238-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom California palace comes with a huge outdoor balcony overlooking the ocean, a fireplace and an antique stove in the kitchen.
Unfortunately, it also comes with some baggage. This is where the 43-year-old Seau was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in May. It's where fans held vigils in his memory and mourned a retired star gone too soon. That's a lot for a buyer to take on, but fans looking to celebrate the man, his achievements and his philanthropic legacy might consider investing in the home and view he left behind.
There's a generation that remembers Bradshaw as the calculating, championship-winning quarterback for the powerhouse Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the 1970s. Everyone else knows him as the erratic Fox(NWS) - Get Report NFL Sunday commentator whose analysis seems borne of a horse hoof to the head.
There could be a reason for that. Bradshaw's owned a sprawling ranch in Thackerville, Okla., for several years and just put it on the market. The 8,600-square-foot custom-built home has six bedrooms, six full and two half bathrooms and another 1,000 square feet of outdoor patio space with a kitchen, firepit and bar area. More importantly, the ranch's 744 acres include a four-station stallion barn, a 20-stall show barn, 500-stall mare barn with lab and office and a covered arena.
Matt Hasselbeck's Washington spread
Why would you own a home in Bellevue, Wash., in the same Medina neighborhood as Bill Gates if you live way across the country and aren't on the Microsoft(MSFT) - Get Report payroll? Maybe because you're the only Seattle Seahawks quarterback to play in a Super Bowl and the last one to get the team a playoff win.
Hasslebeck held the starting job in Seattle for eight years before being traded to the Tennessee Titans. Though he had to move his wife, Sarah, and their three children across the country, he can be forgiven for building this 6,340-square-foot palace. The house was built in 2005, just after questionable officiating cost Hasslebeck and the Seahawks a Super Bowl title. Figuring he'd be sticking around awhile, Hasslebeck found a half-acre lot with views of Meydenbauer Bay and built a beast of a home with four bedrooms, four and a half baths, a theater room, gym, heated four-car garage, decks, patios, a children's playset and full video surveillance. Hasslebeck may be gone, but well-off Seahawks fans looking to relive the glory days and drown out complaints about bad replacement ref calls and simultaneous possession may want a walk through Hasslebeck's former home.
When we last saw this California wine-country property last year, the former Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers quarterback was trying to unload this Calistoga property for $49 million after two years on the market. Sadly, Montana's a whole lot better at convincing his aging, red-and-gold Zubaz-wearing fans to buy pairs of Skechers(SKX) - Get Report Shape Ups than he is at convincing well-heeled, middle-aged Sideways fans to buy his wine country estate.
The property still has 500 acres, including an olive farm, Tuscan bell tower, full boccie ball and basketball court, an equestrian stable, a pool and spa, 16th century iron gates and mountain views. The home itself still has 10,000 square feet, three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a marble bathtub fireplace and the Montana family crest. It just has all of that with a 31% discount for Montana fans and the would-be Jerry Rice of their choosing.
Former Philadelphia Eagle Ricky "Running" Watters ran for more than 10,000 yards in the NFL but has been out of the game for more than a decade and largely out of the public eye ever since. He's been helping his wife, Catherina, with her law firm and raising their two sons and has been working on a book about adopted children from his perspective as an adopted child and as an adoptive parent.
He's also trying to unload his home in the Islesworth section of Windmere for less than the $1.9 million he and his wife paid for it in 2004 and far less than the $3.4 million they sought just before the housing crisis in 2007.
The five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom home is a gem on its own, but its expansive 1.6 acres at the end of a cul-de-sac are the real draw for fans seeking room to run.
One day you're winning Super Bowls with a team you've played for your entire career and using your nimble feet to win Dancing With The Stars. The next you're being cut by said team and being forced to part with a 13,000-square-foot palace you've poured a lifetime into.
Such are the fortunes of 36-year-old former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, who ended his 14-year career this summer rather than play with another team. Ward has also lived in Atlanta since he was a toddler and planned to stay for a good, long time when he brought in architect David Grace and interior designer Ann Davis to build the home in 2006. The five-bedroom, 10-bathroom house even had an apartment for his mom. Fate has a funny way of laughing at such plans, though, and deep-pocketed Steelers fans in Atlanta now have the chance to live Ward's dream.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.
>To contact the writer of this article, click here:
>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to
>To submit a news tip, send an email to:
>>NFL Teams Most Likely To Be Blacked Out In 2012
Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.