Stories


THE LAWYER, THE ARTIST AND THE NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
 
(The following story is fictional)

 

CHAPTER I

My art gallery, the Olga Dollar Gallery in downtown San Francisco, went out of business on September 31, 2000.

I worked part-time for a large financial institution as a word processor and graphic artist. In December, management informed me and my fellow word processors that our hours were being cut from eight hours a day to six. These two incidents convinced me to start looking for free lance illustration work. Less than a week later, I received a phone message from an old acquaintance.

“Hi. This is a message for Harry Hashimoto. If you are the Harry Hashimoto that went to U.C. Berkeley and whose Dad lives in Southern California, this message is for you. I hope you remember me. My name is Rick Jones. I went to school with you at Berkeley. If you are the Harry Hashimoto that went to U.C. Berkeley and was an art major at Kroeber Hall, please give me a call. Thank you.”

Even though I hadn’t seen him in 18 years, I definitely remembered him. Rick and I met in the Art Department at U.C. Berkeley. Rick was an entertaining guy who slightly resembled “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.” Once while hanging out with him in the hallways of the art department, he took the emergency fire hose and started spraying water down the hallway. A few weeks later I heard that Rick had shown up to the art class of Wanda Love, the only African American faculty member of the Art Department, in a Ku Klux Klan outfit with a gigantic happy face button pinned to his chest. Wanda forgave him because he was one of her favorite students. He is also half Black and half Japanese.

I eagerly called Rick up the next evening, “May I speak to Rick Jones?”

“This is Rick.”

“Hi, this is Harry Hashimoto.”

“Harry! Thanks for calling. How are you?”

“Good. I was really surprised to hear from you. How did you find me?”

“I looked you up on the internet. I found you almost immediately. Harry Hashimoto is not a very common name.”

“No, it’s not. Ha ha.”

“Hey, the reason I called is to ask if you’d do so some artwork for me. Have you heard of Mike Anderson?”

“No.”

“Do you follow the NFL (National Football League)?”

“Not anymore. I got rid of my TV because I spent way too much time watching football and basketball.”

“Mike Anderson’s the NFL Rookie of the Year. I represent him.”

“Really? Who does he play for?”

“The Denver Broncos.”

“I can’t believe that I haven’t heard of him. I used to be a big football fan.”

“Yeah. I want to know if you’d be interested in doing some original artwork of Mike. I want to make autographed, limited edition lithographs of him from your art.”

“Wait. How did you get him?”

“I charge by the hour. Mike gets paid the minimum salary in the NFL. Most agents in the NFL charge a percentage of the player’s salary. I charge by the hour. When Mike decided to be represented by me, his former agent went crazy.”

The Mike Anderson story is an unusual and interesting one. Mike didn’t play high school football because the high school football coach wanted him to be an offensive lineman. Mike wanted to play running back. The coach refused to let him play running back so Mike joined the marching band. After graduating from high school he joined the United States Marine Corp. He finally played running back on one of the Marine Corp teams. He went on to become a star running back for Mount San Antonio Community College in California. The head coach at the University of Utah convinced Mike to play for them after he graduated from community college. He graduated from the University of Utah after leading the “Utes” to two Western Athletic Conference championships.

The Denver Broncos picked Mike in the sixth round of the draft. Unfortunately for the Broncos, their star running back, Terrell Davis, and their second string running back, Olandis Gary, both suffered leg injuries early in the season. Mike started the third game of the season for the Broncos and led the Broncos to an easy 42-13 win while rushing for 162 yards.

By the end of the season, Mike had broken the NFL rookie rushing record and was awarded the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award for 2000 at the age of 26. Most NFL rookies are about 22 years old. And the fact that Mike never played high school football makes his story even more unusual.

“Wow. How did you become an NFL agent?”

“I had a great time at Cal (University of California at Berkeley). It took me six years to graduate. But then I went directly to Harvard Law School.”

“Wow.”

“I worked for a big corporate law firm in New York. Then I was transferred to the Tokyo branch and worked there for two years.”

“Why did ya’ leave corporate law?”

“Harry, the odds are against you from the very start. In order for you to become a partner in a big corporate law firm, you have to bring in at least one million dollars a year in business to the firm. Out of that one million dollars, the firm pays your salary, your secretary’s salary and an associate’s (a low ranking lawyer) salary. So for you to survive, you have to have your own clients, but it’s impossible because other lawyers always have a million things for you to do. You’re working 60 to 80 hours a week. There is no time for you to develop your own clientele. It’s even harder for women and minorities.”

“The old boys club?”

“Yeah. When I was at Harvard most of the students were studying hard, all the time. But I noticed that a few white guys in my classes were not studying all the time. In fact they seemed to be having a very good time, drinking beer, not studying that hard. So, I asked one of them why he wasn’t studying all the time. He said that all he had to do was pass his classes and graduate. He had a slot reserved for him in a prestigious law firm where his dad or one of his relatives worked.”

“Sounds about right. Are you still in touch with some of your minority classmates from law school?”

“Yeah.”

“Did any of them become Partner in a corporate law firm?”

“No. I don’t think so.”

“None?”

“Harry, most of the minority lawyers that I know are having a very tough time right now. My mentor at my first law firm was a black guy. He worked the usual 70, 80 hour weeks and did not become a Partner. His wife divorced him. And the worst thing that happens to a lot of these guys is that they really don’t know how to be independent because they are so busy taking orders from other lawyers that they never learn how to go into business for themselves. They get used to being fed at feeding time. But when they get thrown out of the zoo, they have to learn how to hunt.”

“Ha, ha.”

“These guys are still paying off their huge school loans. And their married lives are usually terrible because they’re never around to spend time with their wives. These guys are supposedly on the way to financial success and that’s what their wives expect. And when it turns out that they are not going to become Partners in their firms, the wives leave. The stress on these guys is intense. The divorce rate among lawyers is very high.”

“Oh man.”

“Just recently I had a case where I worked with a lawyer friend of mine. He’s black, too. When I first met him, he was a hard working, normal guy. But he didn’t become Partner in his firm. So now he’s on his own and now he’s an emotional wreck. The whole time I was working with him, he was sighing, constantly making strange noises and wiping his brow. He was no help at all. I’m still friends with him, but I’ll never work on a case with him again.

“My best friend from Harvard Law, a black guy from Boston, is no longer practicing law. He now lives in New Hampshire and he’s become a hardcore Christian.”

“Why did he quit?”

“I don’t really know. All he talks about is God, Christ and the Church. He’s not interested in anything else. He’s always trying to convert me even though I was born and raised a Buddhist.”

“Wow.”

“When I was working in New York, there was this Japanese-American guy from Hawaii. He tried to prove himself by billing (working) more hours than any other lawyer in the office. He was the first to arrive and the last to leave everyday. He had no life. He never went out with any women because he was always in the office. When they told him that they were not going to make him a Partner, they threatened him with a lawsuit. They said that if he didn’t resign, they were going to press sexual harassment charges against him.”

“Did he really harass someone?”

“No. He asked one of the administrative staff out a few times, but she always refused. I think he might have called her a few times at her home phone. But I’m sure he never even came close to harassing her. Meanwhile it was well known that other lawyers were having sex in the office with their secretaries. And everyone knew about it.”

“Jeez. Why were they being such jerks?”

“I don’t really know, but I think they didn’t want him to press racial discrimination charges against them. They were probably scared because he may have had a good case against them. He was a faultless employee. But these law firms will make up anything if they don’t want you around. The last time I saw him, he had a facial tic where one of his eyes just kept twitching.”

“Damn.”

“I met an older black lawyer in D.C. He was a Partner in his law firm and I was invited to his home. There were African sculptures in his home, African paintings, photos of Africa. He changed into West African clothes after work. He was totally into Afrocentricity. I later found out that he is a practically a non-entity at his firm. No one really pays any attention to him and he doesn’t really do anything while he’s there. I think he embraces Afrocentricity because the white male Partners in his firm have basically rejected him.

“The stress in these firms is really high. My first day on the job in New York, there were people packing up their things and crying. I found out later that they were all lawyers who didn’t make it to Partner. I was one of the new replacements.”

“Jeez.”

“After I got out of law school, I had an interview with one of the big accounting firms. After my first two interviews, an older white guy, the head lawyer of the department, came in to meet me. After he sat down, he took one look at me and looked at my resume. He looked at me again and asked, ‘How do I know you’re really Rick Jones?’ I don’t remember anything else about that interview because I started staring out the window and stopped listening to the guy. I knew that there was no way that he was going to hire me.”

“Oh man. That’s unbelievable. I can’t believe he asked you that.”

“After Japan, I moved back here (San Francisco) and got a job with the City (the City of San Francisco). My job is so easy compared to my corporate job. I’m the lawyer for the City Assessor, Dee Warren. I just have to come in every morning, turn on the lights, the computer. Dee is 72 years old. She really doesn’t do much anymore. I take care of a few details for Dee, then I put on my football agent cap. I can run my own business during government hours while drawing a steady salary.”

“Amazing. You work so hard. I only work about 18 hours a week. I feel like a lazy bum after listening to you.”

“I’m really driven because I owe so much in school loans. If I knew then what I know now, I probably would have become a plumber.”

“Ha, ha.”

“So would you be interested in doing some original art for Mike?”

“Sure. It sounds good.”

“Harry, if the lithographs for Mike sell, Mike can introduce you to other Broncos players. I’m sure that a lot of them would be interested in having lithographs (of themselves) made. These pro athletes are really vain.”

“Ha, Ha.”

“And you know how insane some sports fans are. They are willing to pay hundreds, thousands of dollars for autographed, sports memorabilia.”

It sounded very good.

I met Rick a week later at a local coffee shop. Rick brought some newspapers and photos of Mike Anderson for me. We agreed to form a business since Rick had no money to pay for my services. I agreed to do three paintings of Mike that would eventually be made into autographed, limited edition lithographs. The profits from the lithographs would be split evenly between me, Rick and Mike Anderson. After talking business for 20 more minutes, I asked how Mike was doing. Rick took out his cell phone and dialed Mike’s number in Denver, “I want you to talk to Mike.”

“Sure, why not?”

Mike wasn’t home so Rick left a message, “Mike, this is Rick calling. I’m with Harry, the artist who’s going to do great artwork for us. It’s a little after one. If you get this message before one thirty, please call my cell phone.”

Rick showed me a newspaper article.

 

Broncos' Anderson May Seek More $$$

Jan 17, 2001 1:01 PM

Denver (AP) — Broncos running back Mike Anderson might demand a pay raise after a standout season that earned him NFL offensive rookie of the year honors. “I think the Broncos will agree Mike is underpaid. We're trying to be very reasonable,” Anderson's agent, Rick Koji Jones, said. “Mike gives me my marching orders. He doesn't want to cause any waves. He's torn, confused. But he also realizes he has a finite career.'' Anderson, a sixth-round pick, rushed for 1,500 yards despite starting only 12 games this season. He earned the rookie minimum of $193,000, and is scheduled to earn the second-year minimum of $275,000 next season and then the third-year minimum of $358,000.

Anderson is in rehabilitation after surgery Friday to remove torn cartilage in his knee. He is off crutches and walking and should be 100 percent in about two weeks. Jones wants to avoid a training camp holdout. We would hope it doesn't get to that point,'' he said. Denver generally is reluctant to redo rookie contracts. Broncos General Manager, Neal Dahlen said, “That's not the way things work. But if you look at long-term plans you might say with a particular player that you're willing to raise what he makes next year and extend into the future because you know he'll be part of the future at that point.''

There is little guarantee Anderson will be the starter next season, with Terrell Davis and Olandis Gary returning from injuries.

 

“I have to fly to Denver tomorrow to talk with Mike. He’s having another crisis.”

“Another crisis?”

“As you just read, Mike just had minor knee surgery and he’s really scared that might end his career. Actually there’s very little to worry about. I got him the best knee surgeon in the country. It was very minor surgery. Mike is very insecure. In fact, most of these guys are insecure. When Terrell Davis saw how well Mike was playing, he started partying with Mike late into the night before games.”

“You mean he was trying to get him wasted the night before football games?”

I was amazed to hear this story about Terrell Davis’s meanness and pettiness. Terrell Davis was on top of the world after the 1998 season. He had led the Broncos to their second straight Super Bowl championship and was voted the League’s Most Valuable Player. He was also earning about six million dollars a year. In my naiveté, I assumed that someone of Terrell Davis’s stature would never hurt his team by trying to get his replacement drunk or worse.

Rick continued, “Yeah. You know, Terrell is very insecure these days, because he’s suffered two knee injuries. His best playing days are behind him. He’s definitely threatened by Mike. I’ve told Mike that Terrell doesn’t have his best interest in mind. Most people are never the same after major knee surgery. And Terrell has had two knee surgeries. Mike idolizes Terrell, but I’ve told Mike that he’s already better than Terrell. He’s bigger than Terrell. He’s stronger than Terrell and he’s faster than Terrell. Terrell has only played about eight times in the past two seasons because of his injuries.”

Rick continued, “Mike is from a very poor background. He’s from a broken home. I’m trying my best to teach him how to protect himself. I’m trying to teach him how to manage his money and how not to get cheated. For instance, Rick signed a contract to promote Nike shoes. All he gets out of it are some free shoes.”

“That’s all?”

“Yeah.”

“He’s a rising star. He could get a lot more.”

“I know. I told him that. I asked him, ‘Do you realize that Nike is getting thousands of dollars worth of advertising every time a TV camera shows you wearing a pair of Nikes?’ He had nothing to say. He couldn’t even look me in the face.

“I’m trying to teach Mike how to manage his finances. I bought him the book, ‘Finance for Dummies’ so that he could learn how to take care of his money. I don’t want Mike to be one of those guys who enter the NFL bankrupt and leave bankrupt.”

“Couldn’t you handle his finances for him?”

“No. That’s taboo. In the past too many agents have been caught with their hands in the till. It is now part of player-agent etiquette never to handle their clients’ money. I’m trying to teach Mike how to capitalize on his fame and create multiple streams of income. I’m encouraging him to invest in something that will provide him some income after he retires like a fast food franchise. We are both McDonald’s alumni.”

We met again at the same coffee shop three weeks later. I brought a photo of my first Mike Anderson painting for Rick to see. Rick loved the image and after talking business for 20 minutes I asked, “How’s Mike?”

“I had to fly down to Denver again to see Mike.”

“Uh, huh.”

“I had to go down there because Mike fired me!”

“What?! He fired you? Why?”

“He decided to go with another agent because he could borrow 40,000 dollars from this other agent.”

Rick then imitated the deep voice of Mike Anderson, “‘But don’t worry, man. I be hirin’ you back. I be hirin’ you back.’ He couldn’t even look me in the face. I said, ‘Mike! I’ve done so much for you and I only charge you by the hour. I’ve never been fired in my life!’ He couldn’t even look me in the face.”

“Hirin’ you back?!! Why did he have to borrow 40,000 dollars?”

“Because he spent his whole salary.”

“What?!! What’s he doin’?”

“Harry, Mike is the kind of guy who makes 4,000 dollars by autographing football jerseys for two or three hours.”

“Wow.”

“But he’ll spend all of it in one night.”

“One night?”

“He’ll rent a stretch limo for himself and his posse (a group of followers made up of friends, family, fans, gold diggers, leeches, etc…) and go to a strip club. He’ll buy champagne for everybody and buy ‘extra services’ at the strip club. Harry, Mike can’t even keep up with his monthly car payments. I’m getting phone calls from the car dealership every week. As a favor, I paid Mike’s car payments for a few months.”

“You did?”

“And the worst part is that he’s leasing his car. He could have bought his car with one cash payment instead of leasing it.”

“Why didn’t he buy his car?”

“Harry, Mike has the hardest time thinking ahead. He lives completely in the present. Thinking ahead is a foreign concept to him. Did you know that Mike ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere in Utah and called me up? He wanted me to Western Union him some money because he forgot his credit cards.”

“What?!”

“All of Mike’s family are expecting him to support them. His mom quit her job. He’s supporting his mom, his girlfriend and her three teenage children.”

“Man.”

“His mom calls me up and complains about Mike all the time. She tells me that Mike isn’t a good son because he hasn’t bought her a new house yet. She and the girlfriend hate each other because they are both fighting over Mike’s money, which Mike doesn’t have, because he’s spending it as soon as he gets it.”

“Oh man.”

“After I convinced Mike to sign with me, I went out to the University of Utah campus and stadium to talk with Mike. When I met the team’s trainer, I told him that I was Mike’s agent. He started laughing, ‘Well I guess you gotta’ start somewhere.’ I didn’t realize what he meant until later. I was so ignorant and naïve. Did you know that the NFL hires investigators to do background checks on every player before they join the NFL?”

“No.”

The NFL, the Broncos, the Utah coaching staff, they all knew about his girlfriend. I didn’t. I didn’t know that she was part of an international car theft ring and a former drug dealer. The NFL does background checks on every player eligible for the draft. They are not going to draft anyone who has any embarrassing legal or personal problems. Pro football is a big business and the football owners are very interested in protecting their investments. They have enough trouble with the players that are already in the league. You’ve heard of Ray Lewis, haven’t you?”

“Yeah.”

 

Jurors Hear Testimony in Ray Lewis Trial

May 23, 2000

ATLANTA (CNN) -- The prosecutor in the murder trial of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis told jurors Tuesday that a blood trail from the crime scene to Lewis's hotel room in Atlanta would link the football player to two men killed during a brawl after a post-Super Bowl party. Lewis, a three-time NFL All-Pro, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting are charged in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. The defendants each face two counts of murder, two counts of felony murder and two counts of felony assault.

"This is not a case about football or football players or the Super Bowl," Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told jurors in his opening statement, "This is a case about the murder of two young men."

Howard said the driver of Lewis's limousine heard Oakley and Sweeting say: "I stabbed mine.” Howard said Lewis was overheard telling the men to be quiet, saying, "My football career ain't going to end like this."

Jurors were told that Lewis's blood was found in his hotel room along with the blood of Oakley and one of the victims. Howard did not say Lewis stabbed the men. Prosecutors said in court documents that the defendants chased down Baker and Lollar, and started fighting with them after an argument at the Cobalt Lounge. Defense lawyers for Lewis said the 25-year-old NFL star didn't stab anyone and acted as a peacemaker.

Even if Lewis didn't stab anyone, he can be convicted of murder if the prosecution can convince a jury that Lewis participated in the brawl that led to the two deaths.

If convicted, all three could be sentenced to life in prison.

 

Ray Lewis was eventually put on probation for a year in a plea-bargain agreement that required him to testify against his two friends, Oakley and Sweeting. Lewis went on to lead his team to the Super Bowl Championship. Many people believe that he got away with murder.

Rick continued, “Mike’s girlfriend is a convicted felon.”

“Oh man.”

“They are always getting in fights, yelling at each other. She’s called the police three times on Mike. The police arrive and then they search the whole house because she’s a felon. The police have the right to search the premises because she’s a felon. Meanwhile Mike is seething because the police are all over his apartment, going through everything. I’m just thankful that they didn’t find any drugs and that Mike hasn’t been arrested.”

“Jeez. Is Mike involved with drugs?”

“Probably not. But his girlfriend is definitely bad news. She’s 12 years older than Mike with three teenaged kids. She’s not getting any younger and she has no job skills. And she’s claiming that her new born daughter is Mike’s child. I keep telling Mike to get a paternity test. If he’s really the father, then he’s gonna’ have to deal with it. But if he’s not then he should get rid of her. But Mike just refuses to take the test. He’ll make up any excuse in order not to take the test. I’ve advised Mike that maybe he should marry her and have her sign a prenuptial agreement. That way he could limit the amount Nicole (girlfriend’s name) could get from him. (Rick imitates Mike’s low voice) ‘Man, I ain’t marryin’ her.’ But he never does anything about it. I’ve warned him that if he tries to break off from her that she’s gonna’ go crazy. She’s 38 years old with four kids. She ain’t lettin’ go. Her only real job experience is stealin’ cars and dealin’ drugs.”

“Ha, ha.”

“Once they called me from a restaurant while fighting. Mike was yelling at his girlfriend. Then she grabbed the phone while screaming at him. She went on and on to me about how Mike isn’t a real man. Then she screamed at Mike. In between the yelling and screaming, I could hear Mike AND Nicole politely asking the waitress for another coke.

“Ha, Ha, Ha.”

“While Mike was at Utah, his girlfriend flew into Salt Lake City to visit him. The FBI was waitin’ for her, handcuffed her and took her to jail. As soon as he heard, the head coach ran down to the jail and offered the agents season tickets for each one of them if they’d just lock her up and throw away the key.”

“HA, HA, HA!”

“I’m working with a doctor who specializes in pharmaceuticals. One of his products is an injury crème for athletes… Anyways, I arranged for Mike to fly out to Indianapolis for a big pharmaceutical conference. I wanted Mike to endorse Dr. Bauer’s injury crème. It would be good for Dr. Bauer and good for Mike. Mike could make some extra money if he officially endorsed the injury crème and Dr. Bauer would have a sports celebrity endorsing his product. I asked Dr. Bauer to call Mike up personally and give him all the details of the flight, hotel and other stuff. Dr. Bauer talked to Mike and everything seemed fine.”

“Ha, ha. Oh no. Don’t tell me.”

“When Dr Bauer and I arrived in Indianapolis, we discovered that Mike was not on his flight. I had Dr. Bauer call Mike at his place in Denver. His girlfriend informed us that he was at his Mom’s house in South Carolina! We called his Mom’s house and Mike WAS THERE!

“‘Mike, why aren’t you here? Why are you in South Carolina? You’re supposed to be in Indianapolis right now.’”

Rick imitated Mike’s deep voice, “I thought it was next week.”

“Ha, ha.”

“That’s why I had Dr. Bauer call Mike and personally tell Mike the itinerary. I wanted him to see for himself what a knucklehead Mike is. HAW, HAW!”

“HA, HA, HA!”

“I’m always asking myself, ‘Why am I dealing with Mike?’ I have options in life. I’m working on a pharmaceutical deal with Dr. Bauer. I have reliable clients who pay me a lot of money for my legal services. Why do I have to deal with Mike when I COULD BE SUING SOMEONE FOR THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS RIGHT NOW!”

“HA! HA! HA! HA!”

“HAW! HAW! HAW! HAW!”

After the hilarity subsided, I asked Rick, “Is Mike an unusual case or are there lots of guys just like Mike?”

“Holy, moly! I’d say that about 70% of the league is just like Mike.”

“Seventy percent?”

“Yeah. 70% of the league are born poor and black. Most of these guys have no idea how to handle money. Most of them probably aren’t as flaky as Mike but a lot of them ARE! Most of them will play for about two or three years and leave the league broke. The average NFL career is only about three years. But while they’re in the league, they spend their money like water, entertaining and supporting friends and family.”

“So having your own ‘posse’ is a very common thing in the NFL?”

“Yeah. Have you of heard of Randy Moss?”

“Yeah.” Randy Moss is currently the best wide receiver in the NFL.

“He once started screaming and cussing out his coach because his coach wouldn’t let his posse on the sidelines during a game. And he has a large posse because he’s a big star with a big contract. He can get away with this kind of behavior because he’s a big star. At least Mike is a nice, polite guy. The scary thing is that most of these guys have gigantic egos because they’ve been groomed to play in the NFL since they were sixteen years old. Can you imagine how huge your ego would be if everyone told you how great you were since you were sixteen? These guys live in a bubble. Other people have taken care of all their needs. For instance, when they check into a hotel, all they have to do is pick up the hotel room keys and drop them off when they leave. While playing college football, most of these guys don’t even bother to go to their classes. Many of them have campus jobs where they never have to show up. The only time they show up is to get paid.”

“Yeah. I heard that when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (a former professional basketball star) was at UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles), he had a job on the campus snow removal crew.”

“Haw, haw. Have you heard of Deltha O’Neal?”

“Yeah.” Deltha O’Neal plays defensive back for the Broncos. He is not a star.

“He has two adult age uncles permanently living with him in his apartment in Denver”

“What? Did they just decide to quit their jobs and get on the gravy train?”

“They probably didn’t have jobs to begin with. I’m amazed how many people latch on to these football players. I mean, DON’T THESE PEOPLE HAVE ANY CONCEPT OF WORK!”

It startled me to hear Rick speak so vehemently about poor, black people. Back in our college days, Rick used to rail against Ronald Reagan, “The White Establishment,” “The Powers That Be,” or “Stupid Republican Fucks.” I quickly changed the subject and asked, “How are you going to survive in this business if most of these guys are like Mike or even worse?”

“I don’t know. Dealing with Mike has been a long, continuous headache. The glamour of being the agent of a famous football player has definitely worn off. I have a friend who is also an NFL agent. We’re talking about merging our businesses in order to deal with all the headaches of dealing with these guys.”

“How do the big agents deal with these guys?”

“The big agents never really deal with their clients. They hire other people to take care of their clients’ problems. They are basically ‘gophers’ called ‘runners.’ If I were a very successful agent, I would have one of my ‘runners’ deal with Mike. My runner would have to deal with the headaches, not me.”

“At least Mike has a chance to renegotiate his contract for a lot more money.”

“Not ANYMORE.”

“What happened?”

“Mike went to the Broncos management and asked for a ten thousand dollar loan. After he asked for the loan, the Broncos called me and told me that Mike asked them for a loan.” Rick paused to let the meaning of his last sentence sink in.

“Yeah?” I didn’t get it.

“Now the Broncos know that Mike has no money. Holding out was the only weapon that he had against the Broncos. Now that the Broncos know that he has no money, they are not going to renegotiate. I was hoping to renegotiate his contract for a lot more money. Not anymore. Mike signed a contract with the Broncos that penalizes a player 5,000 dollars a day for holding out. Mike will be able to hold out for about four hours before his money runs out.”

“Unbelievable. He sabotaged his own contract negotiations.”

“Yeah.”

“Oh man.”

“I thought that Mike was going to be different from the average NFL rookie. He wasn’t treated like a celebrity while he was a teenager. Mike’s older than your average rookie and he was a marine. I thought he would be more mature.”

Despite the fact that Rick had been fired, our lithograph venture was unaffected. Mike, his mother and girlfriend were all interested in the extra income that the lithographs could potentially provide. Mike still called Rick to talk about his personal problems. Rick explained, “After Mike fired me, he wanted to go and hang out with me for a few hours. He didn’t realize how upset I was about being fired.”

I met Rick again after finishing my second painting of Mike Anderson. Since I was forced to use low quality newspaper photos as reference, my second painting was not very good. I asked Rick if Mike could send us better photos.

Rick replied, “Mike has a drawer full of photos of himself playing football. And I’ve asked him over and over to send me good photos.” Rick imitated Mike’s deep voice, “‘I’m on it.’ He’s never sent anything. Even the Boy Scouts have asked him for some photos to publish in their magazine and he hasn’t sent them anything.”

“Ha, Ha. Lettin’ down the Boy Scouts? Jeez.”

“I had to dig up all the photos myself. You’d think that he’d be happy to help us out by sending as many photos as we needed. He could make a good amount of money from these lithos, but he hasn’t done a thing to help us.”

“How’s Mike doing?”

“Mike is unhappy because the Broncos aren’t going to give him a raise. He’s hoping that he’ll get traded to a team that will pay him a lot more money. Mike is constantly calling me up and complaining about how he deserves more money. When he hangs out at Terrell’s mansion, he gets really upset.” Rick once again imitated Mike’s voice, “‘That mansion should be mine! I gave to the team!’”

 

Inside the NFL
The Broncos have a Talented Running Back to Deal, But No Takers

By Kraig Peterson, April 23, 2001

Here's one thing that's hard to figure out about the NFL and its win-at-all-costs mentality: Why aren't there more trades? 99 times out of a 100, teams act as if the only ways to improve are through the draft and free agency. That's silly and shortsighted. Case in point: The Broncos are willing to trade running back Mike Anderson, the league's offensive rookie of the year last season, for one of the first 15 picks in the April 21 draft. Actually, Denver would listen to offers for either of its other 1,000-yard rushers, Terrell Davis and Olandis Gary. As of Sunday, though, Coach Mike Shanahan had received only one lukewarm bid.

Three teams drafting among the top dozen—the Browns (third), the Bears (eighth) and the Panthers (11th) are considering taking a running back in the first round, but none are pursuing Anderson. What hurts Anderson’s trade value is that the Broncos backs seem almost interchangeable; a series of low-round draft choices have all turned into stars running behind one of the best lines in the game. Davis, Gary and Anderson were chosen in the fourth round or lower, and all rushed for more than 1,100 yards as rookies. Cleveland coach Butch Davis, whose club had informal talks last week with the Broncos about dealing for a back, says, "Mike Anderson’s got very good numbers, but he's in a great offense behind a great line."

Coach Shanahan stated, “I’m puzzled about the lack of interest for Anderson. He’s the Offensive Rookie of the Year. He’s a proven, quality player.”

 

A few weeks later, Rick left a panicked message on my phone machine, “Harry, this is Rick. We really have to move on these lithos. Mike could explode at any time! Give me a call when you have a chance.”

I called Rick the next day.

“Harry, thanks for calling back.”

“What’s going on with Mike?”

“Have you seen the nationwide TV ads with Michael Jordan?”

“Yeah.”

“If you want a nationwide ad campaign with a famous athlete, you have to deal with this advertising firm in Chicago called ‘Bell and Bloomfield.’ I set up a promotional deal between Mike and Visa (the credit card company). Visa wanted Mike and some other sports stars from the Denver area to ride on the Visa Bus. The Visa Bus drives around to different parts of Denver and people could board the bus and talk to the stars if they had a Visa card. If they didn’t have a Visa card, then one of the sports stars on the bus could sign them up. A limo was supposed to pick up Mike at 4:00 a.m. on the day of the promo. Mike would make a few thousand dollars from the deal and maybe it could lead to bigger promotions.

“At 4:10 a.m. my phone rings. It’s the guy from Visa. He’s panicked because Mike isn’t home. He told me that they’d been banging on his door, calling him, ringing his door bell and he’s not answering. So I tell the guy that I’m going to call his boss and take the blame for Mike not showing up. Once again, I end up taking a bullet for Mike.”

“Ha, Ha. You’re riddled with bullets.”

“Yeah. I tried calling Mike a few times but he didn’t answer. Around 4:00 p.m. that day, Mike left a message on my machine and said that he slept through all the commotion. He sounded really embarrassed.”

“You think he really slept through all that commotion? Was he even there?”

“I think that he was zonked out on some drug. His girlfriend is an ex-drug dealer. If you aren’t extremely drunk or drugged, you’ll wake up if people are banging on your door and ringing your phone. I think he’s developing a substance abuse problem.”

“Oh no.”

The advertising agency, Bell and Bloomfield, sent Rick a bill of 1,000 dollars for the limousine and the time that they had invested in Mike. Rick called Bell and Bloomfield and told them to send the bill directly to Mike. He also informed them that they would be lucky to get paid since there were a lot of people, including himself, who were waiting for Mike to pay them.

Rick started setting up our sports lithograph business while I ordered postcards advertising our first lithograph of Mike Anderson, The National Football League’s Rookie of the Year! After hearing all the stories about the flakiness of Mike, I became nervous that Mike would never show up to sign the 400 lithographs that we planned to make. Rick reassured me that Mike would be thrilled to sign them because the lithographs would really stroke his ego.

A few weeks later, Rick called, “Hey Harry, I just wanted to give you an update on what’s going on with Mike and the litho.”

“Is he still calling you all the time?”

“No. He stopped calling me because he owes Sprint over 1,000 dollars. But I did talk to his Mom. His Mom said that he can receive messages but he can’t call out from his phone.”

“Oh man.”

“Nicole (Mike’s girlfriend) is going crazy. She threatened to have Mike killed when she gets enough money.”

“What?!! She threatened to put a contract out on Mike? Why?”

“I don’t know. Maybe she’s mad that Mike isn’t going to get that multi-million dollar contract. She’s going crazy. She started screaming in their apartment complex that Mike was trying to kill her and called the police. This is the fourth time this year that the police have come to their apartment.”

“Did they search the apartment again?”

“Yeah. Because she’s a felon. The Bronco coaches all dislike her and completely ignore her when they see her. They refuse to talk to her. That drives her crazy. The coaches like Mike’s mom. They keep telling Mike, ‘Take care of your mom. Take care of your mom.’ The Broncos recently had their awards banquet a few weeks ago. Mike’s mom and girlfriend were both there. In order to embarrass Mike’s mom, the girlfriend confronted his mother and said in a loud enough voice for everyone to hear, ‘You hate me because you can’t fuck Mike like I can!’

“Jesus! She’s insane!”

“I was flabbergasted by what she said during the Broncos’ award banquet. I really think she’s going crazy. She really believes that Mike is a success because of her.”

“Does she really?”

“Yeah.”

“Maybe she’s acting up because Mike is trying to break off the relationship.”

“No, I think she’s crazy. If Mike was interested in breaking up with her, he would have gotten that paternity test by now.”

“You mean he hasn’t done it yet?”

“Nope.”

“Unbelievable. He probably really needs her in some weird, irrational way.”

“I think he’s scared that she can blackmail him.”

“Man.”

“The sad thing is that Mike didn’t get traded to another team because no team wants to deal with Mike’s girlfriend and all the baggage that she brings with her. For instance, Mike was in San Francisco in January. Mike told me that Nicole and her friend, ‘Big Girl,’ were also coming along. When I met them, ‘Big Girl’ wasn’t there. Nicole casually told me that ‘Big Girl’ couldn’t make it. I found out through Mike’s Mom that ‘Big Girl’ couldn’t make it because she was killed. ‘Big Girl’ was a drug courier. While transporting drugs, she was intercepted by a rival gang. They ordered her to hand over all the drugs that she was carrying. Since she’s ‘Big Girl,’ she refused to hand over anything. She went down in a hail of bullets.”

“Oh my god.”

“The Broncos and all the other teams in the NFL check up on their players. Since Mike’s private life is so shaky, I’m sure that the Broncos checked up on a lot of the people on Mike’s guest list (for Broncos home games). They probably did a background check on ‘Big Girl’ who was one of Mike’s regular guests in the V.I.P. section. The amazing thing is that Mike thinks that no one in the league knows how out of control his life is. Unfortunately, I think the whole league knows about Mike and his girlfriend. That’s why he wasn’t traded. No team wants to deal with his private life. Two unproven college running backs have just signed million dollar contracts while Mike will make the second year minimum salary.”

“Jeez. I feel sorry for him.”

“I do too. And I fear for his life. Nicole is crazy. I’m writing a letter to the Broncos management informing them about the death threat. They need to have documents and witnesses in case something bad happens. I’m hoping that they have more influence with Mike than I do. Unfortunately, this is part of life in the NFL”

“Jeez. At least there’s no evidence that Mike is dealing drugs himself.”

“Yeah, but a lot of these guys are hauled away by the police for drug dealing soon after they retire because they have no skills except playing football.”

“That’s sad.”

“I think that all of this will eventually catch up with Mike. I’m just thankful that he hasn’t ended up in jail because of her.”

A week later we received our postcards advertising our first lithograph and our business, “Anderson Pictures.” Rick insisted on using Mike’s name for our business. He explained, “Mike will be really excited to sign our lithographs if he feels that it’s his company.”

Two weeks later Rick called, “I have some good news about Mike.”

“Yeah?”

“I sent Mike the postcards and he loved ‘em. I sent all his mail to the Broncos training complex so that ‘crazy lady’ (Mike’s girlfriend) can’t get to it. Mike’s teammates were all really impressed with the postcards. Mike told his teammates, ‘You know, this is my company.’”

 

 

Since Mike was enthusiastic about the postcards Rick decided that it was a very good time to get the lithographs made. After placing our order with one of the best lithography houses in San Francisco, Rick drove me home and gave me an update on the life of Mike Anderson, “I heard that Nicole was trying to frame Mike for rape.”

“Oh jeez.”

“She wanted one of her girlfriends to have sex with Mike. Then she wanted her friend to go to the police and accuse Mike of rape.”

“Oh man.”

“I also found out that Nicole is willing to drop out of Mike’s life for a million dollars.”

“One million dollars? Is she serious?”

“Yeah. Mike’s Mom and I have to laugh because Mike doesn’t have ANY money.”

“Why is he still with her? It’s insane.”

“Harry, I don’t know. All I know is that all this is over money. The worst thing that can happen to poor people, people who’ve been poor for generations is to suddenly have money, lots of money. Overnight.”

Harry Hashimoto
July 12, 2001

 

 

CHAPTER II

Two days later Ronnie, my girlfriend, told me that she talked to Rick, “He wants you to go to Denver with him.”

I called Rick back, “Rick, Ronnie told me that you want me to go to Denver”

“Yeah. I talked to Mike and he’s real excited about signing the lithos. But we’re going to have to go to the Broncos training complex and have Mike sign all the lithos there because Mike is afraid that he’ll let me down again by missing his flight. He doesn’t trust himself.”

“Wait. We have to go to Denver because he can’t trust himself enough to catch a flight to San Francisco?”

“Yeah. But we can use this opportunity to take photos of Mike in uniform and at any angle that you want. And we can meet his teammates. A lot of them were impressed with the postcards (of our first lithograph of Mike Anderson). A lot of the Broncos would be thrilled to have their own lithos. I think even Terrell Davis (the Broncos’ star running back) will be interested.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Terrell agreed to have his salary reduced from six million dollars a year to two.”

“Wow. He willingly reduced his salary?”

“Yeah. The Broncos squeezed him because Terrell’s performance in training camp has been poor. The Broncos now know for sure that Terrell will never regain the form that he had three years ago. And the Broncos have two other proven players who can easily take his place.”

“I guess that’s good for Mike.”

Rick continued, “Oh. I forgot to tell you. Mike just lost a lawsuit against an old girlfriend of his. He has to pay child support now.”

Ronnie’s friend, Isabelle, came over and laughed when she saw my two paintings of Mike Anderson, “These (paintings) are so good, but they’re so bad. They’re so well done, but it’s kitsch.” I couldn’t disagree.

Most of my friends were as entertained as I was by Rick’s stories. But my Dad was disgusted, “He’s (Mike Anderson) a loser. He’s nothing but trouble.” Rick also mentioned the fact that his mother’s blood pressure would start to rise every time the subject of Mike Anderson came up.

A few nights later I had a dream that I was walking barefoot in a landscape that resembled the dry, scrub filled landscape of Nevada. I noticed that my big toes had fallen off my feet. It was very difficult to walk in a straight line.

After a few irate phone calls from our lithographer, Rick scraped together enough cash to pay for our lithos. It didn’t help that neither Rick nor I knew much about starting and running a small business. I gradually came to the realization that it could be a long time before we sold any lithographs.

We were both surprised at how heavy all the lithos were. There was no way either of us wanted to lug them to Denver. Rick decided that Mike had to come to San Francisco to sign the lithos. I started worrying about the reliability of Mike Anderson again.

During that summer, I followed Mike’s performances during the preseason exhibition games. According to Rick, Mike had lost weight, quit drinking and was determined to win the starting position. According to the Broncos exhibition game statistics, Mike was outperforming his two competitors for the starting job at running back. But most Broncos fans wanted their Super Bowl hero, Terrell Davis, back at starting running back. Since we didn’t have a TV, I dragged Ronnie (a football hater) to a local sports bar to watch a preseason, exhibition game between the Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers.

I was disappointed to discover that Terrell was starting the game instead of Mike. Since neither team was playing its first string players, I told myself that Mike was probably the real starter. To my delight, Terrell was not doing very well. He had run the ball about five times for five yards before he suddenly broke loose for a 30 yard touchdown run. Since the game was being played in Denver, the crowd roared their approval and gave Terrell a standing ovation. I turned to Ronnie and said, “Hmmmm, bad omen for Mike.” It would not be good for Anderson Pictures if Mike Anderson sat on the bench all season.

During a slow morning at work I came upon a surprising article on the internet.

 

Anderson Signs Big Contract

By Lyle DeHamel, Times Staff Writer

Denver Broncos running back Mike Anderson, who proved himself last year as the NFL's offensive rookie of the year, was rewarded Saturday with a 4-year contract extension. The Times has learned that the deal is worth more than $10 million in "new money." It includes a $1.5 million signing bonus, and increases Anderson's base salary to $350,000 from $298,000. 

The Broncos rewarded Davis after his impressive rookie season, but Anderson figures to collect even more. Davis earned $1.85 million in his first 3 years with the Broncos. Anderson, likewise a sixth-round pick, will make $2.1 million his first two years. Anderson is expected to back up Davis in Monday night's season opener against the New York Giants. The extension binds him to the Broncos through 2006.

Anderson told the News this week that he knows the Broncos have something special going right now. And, despite persistent trade rumors involving teams where Anderson could start, rather than back up, he remained unfazed. "I don't want to go anywhere," he said. That comment echoed ones he made before training camp started. "This is my home, this is where I want to stay, this is what I know right now," Anderson said.

The 29-year-old former marine has had an impressive preseason. Slimmed down and more experienced, he rushed for a team high 223 yards on 49 carries with one touchdown. His 4.6-yard average was the highest of Denver's three running backs.

September 8, 2001

 

I called up Rick to tell him about the good news, “Hey Rick, did ya’ hear about Mike’s new contract?”

“Yeah. Mike called me up after he signed the contract.”

“You were right. It looks like the Broncos are eventually going to make Mike their number one running back. And now you’ll be able to get the money he owes you.”

“Yeah, from my own small perspective, I’m glad that Mike will be able to pay me. But Mike signed a bad contract.”

“Really? But didn’t you say that no team wanted anything to do with Mike’s insane girlfriend?”

“Yeah, but it’s now become obvious that Terrell’s career is practically over. The Broncos need Mike more than ever.”

“But I saw Terrell run for a 30 yard touchdown on TV”

“That doesn’t mean anything. He was playing against the second and third string defensive players.”

“Yeah that’s true, but Mike just signed a signed a five year, ten million dollar contract! That’s bad?”

“The contract is misleading. It’s full of incentives and provisions.”

“Really?”

Incentive laden contracts usually started with a relatively small base salary ($350,000 for Mike Anderson). Running backs with incentive laden contracts would often be rewarded with thousands of extra dollars if they ran for 1,000 yards in a season. Many players with these contracts earned extra money if their team went to the playoffs, or won the Super Bowl. But if a player injured himself and didn’t play in any games, then he’d only earn his base salary.

Rick continued, “Mike’s new agent is probably tearing his hair out right now because he told Mike not to sign any contract until Tuesday, after tomorrow night’s game against the Giants.”

“Why?”

“Because Terrell is going to start the game and he’ll probably carry the ball about ten times for fifteen yards. Then Mike will enter the game and carry the ball for about ten times for fifty yards. It will be obvious to everyone that Mike is the man. Then Mike’s new agent would have negotiated a great contract for Mike. But Mike ruined it by unilaterally signing the first contract the Broncos shoved under his nose. It’s sad. I kept telling Mike to listen to his agent.”

“But if I was Mike and owed thousands of dollars…”

“Mike now owes ninety thousand dollars to his new agent.”

“Ninety thousand? I thought it was forty thousand.”

“Mike borrowed even more than I thought. That’s why Mike’s agent is tearing his hair out. He wants his money back and he wanted to make a lot of money by renegotiating Mike's contract. He was planning on making Mike one of the highest paid running backs in the league. And the sad thing is that Mike will eventually realize that he made another bad decision. He will probably be one of the top ten running backs in the league, but he will be one of the League’s lowest paid, starting running backs.

“Mike is also crediting Nicole (Mike’s crazy girlfriend) for his new contract.”

“Huh?”

“Nicole marched into the Broncos training camp last week and cussed out the head coach for not paying Mike more money. Mike is convinced that’s why he got more money. It’s hard to believe, but Mike doesn’t realize that everyone in the Broncos organization hates her. The Broncos gave him more money because they need him to replace Terrell. Terrell’s career is over. And Mike’s troubles are going to get worse.”

“Ha, Ha.”

“No, seriously. Now Nicole will never let go of Mike since he got that one and a half million dollar signing bonus. Everyone, including me, is going to be lining up outside his door to get paid. I’m flying down to Denver this week to get my money. He’ll pay me if he sees me in person. If I expect to receive a check in the mail, I’ll be waiting a long time.”

After I hung up the phone, I had a hard time blaming Mike for his decision. There was no guarantee that Mike would even play. I did not share Rick’s conviction that Terrell’s career was basically over. Terrell was the official, starting running back for the Broncos and he looked great during his 30 yard touchdown run on TV

I got up early that Tuesday morning and checked the internet to see if the Broncos had won their nationally televised, Monday night football game. I was very interested to see how well Terrell Davis had performed.

I was greeted with a photo that showed a giant hole near the top of one of the World Trade Center towers. The accompanying story stated that an airplane had hit the tower. I yelled out to Ronnie, “Oh, my God! An airplane smashed into the World Trade Center.”

“No Way!” Ronnie ran over to look at the computer screen. Then she ran over to the stereo and turned on the radio. We listened in disbelief as the newscaster stated that both of the World Trade Center towers had collapsed.

It was a week after the terrorist attack before I felt well enough to see the results of the Broncos vs. Giants game. I learned that Terrell Davis had rushed for 103 yards. Mike barely played. Rick was wrong. Terrell Davis was playing well and looked strong. While I was still on the internet, I checked to see if there were any articles about Mike.

 

Anderson Still Marine at Heart

By Lyle DeHamel, Times Staff Writer
 
Mike Anderson, the Marine, served his country during peace keeping missions in Somalia, but he admitted his initial reaction to last week's terrorism was that of revenge. “Like the saying goes, 'Once a Marine, always a Marine,’” the Denver Broncos running back said Monday. “We were taught and trained to defend the country. Once something like that happens, the first thing you want to do is go out and defend the country. That's what was instilled in you from Day One in boot camp.”

 

Anderson no longer is a Marine, and he doesn't face a call-up. “That's still a part of me,” he said. “When I look at that situation, in a sense I was there. You would love to go (fight). I know I don't have to go, but I would want to go and be a part of that. I know my brothers in the Corps, they're ready to go right now, if they haven't already left.”

Anderson said although the acts of terrorism are hard to fathom he learned a lot in Somalia. "I was fresh out of high school. I didn't really understand what the military was all about. I just had a good idea that was something I wanted to do," he said. "Once I went overseas and got to see other countries, I got an understanding that everybody's culture is not the same as ours. People's views and the way they feel is not the same as us.

"(Terrorism) is something we wouldn't do. It happens all the time over in other countries, the bombings and killings. It's been going on for so long, it's kind of like a way of life for them. It just hit the home front now," he said.

Anderson knows how many servicemen feel. “Once you leave your home port, you don't know if you're coming back for those friends and family members,” he said. “You have to prepare yourself for the mind-set that this might be the last time I see my family. This might be the last time I talk to my family. But you've got to get ready to go, too, and set your mind in a sense that 'I'm doing something that's great for my country.’”

Anderson, like many Americans, doesn't know what's next. “I don't think it's going to be quite the swift justice like most people would like to see,” he said. “I'm just preparing for the long haul. I think it's going to be a long, drawn-out war. And it's sad to say that there's going to be a lot of lives that will be lost on both sides. When you say the word war, that's what that means."

Anderson never came under fire in Somalia, but he had to deal with the uncertainty of it all. "That's what these guys are about to do in the armed services," he said. "You don't know what's going to happen. You don't know if you're going to become a target.”

September 18, 2001

 

Because of Mike’s public, pro-war statements, my second Mike Anderson painting had suddenly become an obvious piece of pro-war propaganda. The painting had Mike (a sports celebrity who publicly supported the war) in his Broncos uniform doing a military salute. (A Broncos tradition after scoring a touchdown during home games at “Mile High Stadium” was to give the fans a military salute. This routine was called “the Mile High Salute”) There was also a gigantic U.S. flag in the background. When U.S. flags started appearing after the World Trade Center tragedy, the flag seemed to represent sympathy for the victims of the attack and national unity. But when President George W. Bush, the U.S. government and the mass media started beating the drums of war, the flag suddenly became a symbol of war and revenge. At the bottom of the painting I inserted the slogan of the United States Marine Corp, “Always Ready.”

 

 

Rick and I had no intention of creating pro-war propaganda. We were only trying to cynically cash in on the average football fan’s love of military symbols. I wrote a long email explaining to Rick that I no longer wanted to use my second painting because of its unintended pro-war symbolism.

Rick called me the next day. After talking about the terrorist attacks, Rick got to the point. “Harry, I talked with a guy from CNN/Sports Illustrated. Mike commented on the current crisis on CNN (a cable news station). Mike has agreed to donate all the money he makes from the ‘Rookie of the Year’ lithos to the Manhattan Fire Fighters’ Fund.”

“That’s great, but we don’t have to use that painting. I could make another painting. It’s no big deal. I can do another painting within a week.”

“Harry, let me try to explain Mike’s comments on the current crisis. Mike is programmed. He’s really just an ignorant kid who’s been programmed to grab a rifle and charge the enemy during times of war.”

“But I’ve heard that the media has been quoting him all over the place. I could’ve almost convinced myself that my painting wasn’t pro-war propaganda if Mike hadn’t made any pro-war comments. But he has.”

“Everything in your painting can be interpreted differently. I think most people would not take offense to your painting at all. In fact, the flag is not a war symbol to most Americans. And Mike’s salute is not a military salute. He’s saluting the fans.”

“That’s a military salute. If you take all the symbols in the painting together, they all become pro-war symbols, especially when Mike has been publicly supporting the war. My painting looks exactly like a Marines recruiting poster except that Mike is a football uniform instead of a Marines uniform.”

“Harry, your painting is mild compared to what I originally wanted you to do. Remember, I had a photo of Mike in camouflage toting a submachine gun in Somalia? Remember I wanted you to put in Mike in camouflage WITH the submachine gun. Haw! Haw! Remember how you told me that wasn’t necessary? Haw! Haw! Haw!”

“Oh, my god. That’s right. Could you imagine if I actually did it?”

“Haw! Haw!”

After a pause Rick said, “Our lithos will have no effect on the pro-war, anti-war debate.”

“I agree with you, but I just don’t want to look like someone who’s trying to cash in on a terrible tragedy. Plus I’m totally anti-war and I don’t want anything to do with something that might be seen as pro-war. I don’t want to be apologizing for this painting for the rest of my life.”

“I’m anti-war too. But I’m just trying to take advantage of an opportunity that just fell into our laps. I’m trying to keep our company alive. We can donate all or part of the profits to any charity or group that you want.”

“It’s too embarrassing. I just don’t want to be connected with the painting. But I do have two options for you. I could do another ‘Rookie of the Year’ painting without any war symbols or I could arrange to have another artist do a painting similar to the one we already have. I know a great artist who’s been doing illustration work since he was 18 years old. The only problem is that he may not want to do a painting with military symbolism either. He’s as anti-war as I am.”

“Dennis, this is Harry.”

“Harry, my friend. How are you?”

“Good. Good. I’d like to know if you’d like to work on a project connected with Mike Anderson.” I used to work with Dennis Grbac at a computer game company in Marin County. I enjoyed working with him a great deal and kept in touch with him after we both quit the company. Dennis used to entertain me with his stories of growing up white in the mainly black, Oakland Public School District. As a result of his years in the Oakland schools he could become the “blackest” white man I have ever met. He was also a big fan of the Raiders, Oakland’s professional football team. He loved to hear my stories about Mike and the Broncos.

“Mike Anderson? I just saw him on TV”

“What did he say?”

“Oh, stuff about his new contract, being a marine and going to war.”

“That’s exactly why I’m calling you.” I explained my predicament to Dennis and asked him if he would create another painting similar to mine.

Dennis thought it was hilarious, “I can’t believe the timing. That is SO funny. Heh, heh. What’s even funnier is that those lithos would probably sell out.”

“I know. I don’t want to be remembered for that litho. I don’t want to be apologizing for that painting for the rest of my life.”

“I’d do the painting if I didn’t have to include the Marine slogan and the military salute. That’s going too far. But I wouldn’t mind doing a painting of Mike running with the football in front of an American flag. That wouldn’t bother me.”

“Really? Great! Rick will be happy to hear that.”

“How am I going to get paid?”

“That’s between you and Rick.”

“How’s he paying you?”

“Well, when Rick approached me, he had no cash. So we set up a deal where I get one third of the profits after expenses. Rick gets one third and Mike gets the other. So I haven’t made a penny yet because we haven’t even marketed our first litho. Now that Rick is going to get paid from Mike, he’ll have cash to pay you.”

“That’s good because I want the money up front.”

“That’s fine. I’m sure that Rick won’t mind.” After catching up with Dennis, I left Rick a message on his answering machine saying that Dennis was interested in the job.

When I got home from work the next day, I found an email from Rick.

 

Hi Harry:

We've already advertised the image of Mike doing the military salute on the Salt Lake City TV station. From that advertisement we have our first order. On Friday, prior to our discussion, I forwarded that same image to CNN-Sports Illustrated. I will forward you a copy of the material I sent to CNN-SI. Please note the date and time. 

CNN-SI received the same information that Salt Lake City broadcasted. If your artist friend is kind enough to work with us, we need him to substantially replicate the image you have already prepared because that is the image we have sent to the world as available for sale. Prior to the NY events we informed the world that we were ready to sell that item and, in fact, we have one purchaser in Utah. In terms of the salute being an ad for the Marines, I disagree. The rookie of the year image is an image of a confused former Marine in a football uniform saluting. To what? To Broncos fans.

Rick

 

During our phone conversation about the new, pro-war meanings of my painting, Rick and I had completely forgotten about Mike’s TV appearance in Denver during the first Sunday night of September. Rick had invited me to appear on TV with Mike.

“Me? On TV?”

“Yeah. My brother works at a Salt Lake City TV station. He arranged to have Mike appear on the Salt Lake City version of ‘Sports Wrap Up’ (a popular Sunday night sports news show in the San Francisco Bay Area).”

“Why do you want me to go?”

“I thought it would be good for the artist to appear with Mike because Mike is going to promote our lithos to his fans in the Salt Lake City market.” (Mike’s college, the University of Utah, was in Salt Lake City).

“Me? On TV? That would be hilarious! But I can’t go to Salt Lake City that weekend. You know you’ve only given me about four days notice. Plus no one cares about me. People want to see Mike, not me. Why do you have to go if I’m not going?”

“I have to make sure that Mike actually shows up to the TV studio in Denver. The Salt Lake City station is going to have a direct, live feed from Denver.”

“Unbelievable. You can’t even trust him to keep a simple appointment.”

“Yeah, it IS pathetic. But I owe it to my brother. I can’t let him down. His reputation is on the line. If Mike doesn’t show, then my brother will take the blame.”

“Sad.”

“I can’t let my brother down. Mike owes my brother over 3,000 dollars.”

I was stuck with the fact that my image had already been advertised throughout Utah on a Salt Lake City TV station and nationwide on CNN/Sports Illustrated. I already knew that Dennis would not want to create a painting with a military salute and the Marine slogan. Plus no artist wants to copy someone else’s image exactly. It just wasn’t worth the trouble of trying to find an artist willing and skillful enough to replicate my painting. I also didn’t want to give Rick grey hair. He had enough trouble dealing with Mike.

I was embarrassed by my image, but not that embarrassed. I left a message with Rick telling him that I decided to let him market my painting of Mike. After I hung up I resolved to be more careful about my imagery in the future. I never wanted to be in this situation again.

Rick called back and reiterated that Mike voluntarily agreed to donate all the money he made from the “Rookie of the Year” litho to the Manhattan Fire Fighters’ Fund. I volunteered to donate at least 90% of my profits to groups working for peace and the environment. Rick also agreed to donate money to charitable groups. I just hoped that there would be profits to donate. Rick seemed convinced that the lithos would sell.

Two days later my fellow co-worker and word processor, Pete Fusco, told me an amusing story, “My sister and my brother-in-law were walking their dog near the Venice (California) pier and they met this pudgy guy who was also walking his dog. They started talking about September 11th. The pudgy guy said, ‘I was in New York City that day. I had to ride my tour bus all the way back here.’

“My sister was thinking, ‘Tour bus? Who is this guy?’ She asked him and found out that it was Ozzie Osbourne, the legendary, rock and roll, heavy metal musician!

“Ozzie said, ‘Michael Jackson called me and wanted me to help record another “We are the World.” (“We are the World” was a famous recording sung by an all-star line-up of over 40 famous singers ranging from Kenny Rogers to Cyndi Lauper. It was first done for famine relief in Africa.) I refused because I didn’t want to make money off this tragedy.’”

Pete continued, “And the best part was that my sister told Ozzie, ‘Good for you, Ozzie!’”

I laughed and told Pete with embarrassment how I didn’t stand up for my principles and let Rick market my pro-military image of Mike Anderson.

Pete said, “I think the flag controversy is overrated. I wouldn’t worry about it.” Then he faced me and said with mock severity, “You Are No Ozzie Osbourne.”

The bankers where I worked were scared. They weren’t scared of war. They were scared of a huge economic downturn. One of the senior bankers in my office told me that she has watched her life savings disappear as the bank’s stock kept dropping in value over the past year. She said, “This is just terrible. Many of us may get fired because we’re not making money. This (the WTC disaster) has just made things worse.” The bankers in my office were already telling their clients that the economy would not rebound from the present recession until the end of 2002 as long as there were no terrorist or military catastrophes and as long as the government kept pumping money into the economy (failing corporations).

I told Rick, “No one’s buying anything right now. Everyone is waiting to see what happens. This is a very bad time to market unnecessary items like autographed, sports lithos. You should think before you spend a lot of money on this project.”

He agreed with me but said, “I’m going to fly to Denver this week to get my money from Mike. Once I get my money from Mike, then we can get the lithos made and market them. The lithos will sell.”

 

Davis has Knee Surgery

By Mark Dixon, Associated Press

Oft-injured running back Terrell Davis underwent arthroscopic surgery on Thursday to relieve swelling in his right knee, a procedure that could sideline him for up to six weeks. Denver Broncos coach, Doug Shanahan said doctors termed the surgery successful after removing some debris and repairing a small cartilage tear.

“It will take two to three weeks for him to recover and four to six weeks before he's able to play,” Shanahan said Thursday. “You always hate to lose a great player. Common sense says every time you go in there and have to do surgery, the chances are a little less likely you can come back as you were. Hopefully, Terrell will be able to come back and help this football team before the season is over.”

Mike Anderson, who inherits the starting job, said Davis informed him of the impending surgery on Wednesday. “Terrell told me himself after practice what was about to take place,” Anderson said Thursday. “He was letting me know before anybody else did, so I could get ready. It kind of came as a shocker. He was pretty bummed out about it. But he looked at it as something that he had to do. He has to find out what's going on in his leg. He had been putting it off, I guess, since training camp. He wasn't feeling right. His knee was all swollen.”

When Davis and Olandis Gary went down with injuries early last season, Anderson, a rookie drafted in the sixth round, stepped in and rushed for 1,487 yards, earning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

“This kind of reminds me of last year,” Anderson said. “A similar thing happened, and I had to be ready at a moment's notice. I've been preparing myself all the way through training camp and in our first game, and now it's up to me. I'm hoping to go out there and just pick up from where I left off. All I know is one of our soldiers is down, and Olandis and I have to be ready to step up and help the team.”

September 20, 2001



Rick was correct about Terrell Davis and I was wrong. It looked as if Terrell’s career was really over. And Mike (just like the U.S. Marine slogan said) was “always ready” to step in for “the fallen soldier.” Despite Mike’s chaotic private life, his public image and football career kept ascending. It was truly amazing. He was now the NFL’s military expert and he was, once again, the starting running back for the Broncos. And even though Rick believed that Mike signed a bad contract, Mike was now a millionaire.

On October 1, 2001 I received an email from Rick.

 

Harry:

How are things? I just returned from Denver today. Denver was a nightmare. I spent hours waiting for Mike to meet with me. He, of course, flaked. Just as I was boarding the plane, I finally reached him and I explain that I needed to speak to him about the litho business and that I needed to get paid.

He suggested that I send him an invoice. Of course, I sent him an invoice last year. It is no mystery how much he owes me. Luckily, I have his mother pressing him to pay.

I just don't care about Mike’s welfare anymore. He will be broke soon. Consider this. His contract is filled with incentives. For him to make money he must carry the ball a number of times per game. However, because he and Nicole have annoyed (Coach) Shanahan, there is no way he will ever make those incentives.

Note how the Broncos don't let him play the entire game. They are punishing him. He will not surpass 1,000 yards rushing unless Olandis (Gary) gets hurt.

If I can bring Mike around, we will have the cash to pay other athletes up front for future projects. I’m devoting a considerable amount of energy into not losing it with him. We need him for this one deal and the devil can take him after this.

Please prepare an invoice for your service and your two lithos. Our goal is to pressure Mike, the man on Mars, Mike the Knucklehead, Mike the Neanderthal.

Rick

 

Hey Rick,

Thanks for the update. Things sound grim. Do you really want to pursue this project? Maybe it’s time to sue Mike, get your money and move on.

Good luck in trying to get Mike to cooperate with us. I've lost all faith in the man. My blood pressure doesn't rise when Mike's name is mentioned, but I see nothing but headaches and financial pain when I think about him. When you wrote me that email about the disastrous trip to Denver, I felt that he had no intention of paying you. I hope I'm wrong.

I'm mentally preparing for a total loss (financially and time wise) on our investment. I guess our only hope is his Mom. Hopefully, she can convince him to pay you and your brother the money that he owes you.

Sorry for being so pessimistic.

Don't worry about me. I'm looking ahead into the future of our litho business. But in the short term, is Mike worth the effort? I think we should abandon the Mike Anderson lithos. It would make our lives so much easier. There are other athletes out there who would willingly cooperate with us. Mike is hopeless. Who needs him? We don't. Just get your money so that you can have seed money to pay for future projects. And by the time he actually signs our lithos, he will be a has-been that no one will be interested in.

I'll send you an invoice right away,

Harry

 

On Sunday, October 7, the United States government started bombing the capital city of Afghanistan, Kabul. Mike Anderson had his first great game of the year (155 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown run) as the Broncos defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 20-6.

Harry Hashimoto
October 8, 2001

 

 

 

CHAPTER III

The fortunes of Mike Anderson had quickly changed since the United States attacked Afghanistan. The media had turned their attention away from Mike to other news stories. Mike and the rest of his Broncos teammates had performed poorly since their victory over Kansas City. The team had been beaten badly by two mediocre teams. At this point in the season the Broncos were not the overpowering team that they were predicted to be.

During the first weekend in November, the Broncos were in Oakland to play the first place Raiders in a nationally televised Monday night game. Rick had arranged for us to meet Mike on the Sunday before the game to sign our first batch of lithographs. I was finally going to meet the great Mike Anderson!

 

MEETING THE MAN
A One Act Play by Harry Hashimoto


Harry: Mike! Great to meet ya’!

Mike: Hey man, I loved your paintin’s. Thanks for making me look so good.

Harry: No problem! It’s a pleasure. Rick, can you take a picture of me and Mike? Mike, can you stand by the window over there?

(Rick takes a photo of Harry and Mike mugging for the camera.)

Harry: Mike, I hope you don’t mind me sayin’ so, but when are you going to dump that insane girlfriend of yours? She’s holding you back. I swear to God you’d be a superstar by now if you didn’t have her messin’ up your life. You really should get rid of her. And you should really learn how to handle your finances. You know, you won’t be playing football for the rest of your life. You should save some money for the future. And isn’t it about time you pay Rick all the money that you owe him. He’s one of the few guys who’s always tried to look out for you. Pay the man. Do what’s right.

Mike: You think so?

Harry: Mike. I know so.

Mike: You know, you’re right. I’m gonna’ dump Nicole, hire a financial consultant and pay Rick right now. Where’s my checkbook?

Rick: Don’t forget to sign our lithos.

(Curtain falls and everyone lived happily ever after.)

 

 

I left a message with Rick asking him to call if the meeting with Mike was cancelled. I suspected a cancellation due to Mike’s unreliability. Rick called back with the unfortunate, but expected news, “It looks like the meeting’s off. Mike hasn’t returned any of my calls.”

“What a surprise. So what’s the latest in the saga of Mike Anderson?”

“I don’t know. Mike’s Mom usually returns my calls right away and fills me in on the latest, but I haven’t heard from her in a while. I think Mike’s family is feuding among themselves and with Nicole. I’m sure that Mike is freaking out again. Terrell is going to be the starting running back on Monday night.”

“What? Isn’t Terrell injured?”

“They say he’s fully recovered. Mike will be on the bench.”

“He’s recovered?” I was amazed. Despite the effectiveness of modern surgical techniques and painkillers, I could not believe that Terrell would be well enough to play a full (and brutal) NFL football game. “Well, I guess the Raiders will be happy not to see Mike.” Mike had two tremendous games against the Raiders the year before. “Isn’t it about time to take Mike to court and get your money before he spends it all?”

“Yeah. I think there’s no choice now. I mean if the guy can’t even meet with us for one hour while he’s a 20 minute drive away, there’s really no hope that he’ll ever cooperate with us. I’m already drawing up the papers to take him to court.”

I was relieved to hear that Rick was finally going to end this fiasco.

Rick concluded, “Our experience with Mike was like going to business school. I spent a lot of money and learned a lot about the sports biz. I went crazy but now we have a business degree. In the future, I’m going to learn as much as I can about my future clients. In fact I was talking to Dr. Bauer about making a litho with his friend, Maury Wills (a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball star from the 60’s). He’s very eager to work with us because he really didn’t make that much money during his career. According to Dr. Bauer, Maury Wills is a great guy who’s easy to work with.”

After my conversation with Rick, Ronnie and I left our apartment to go grocery shopping and returned to find a message on our phone machine, “Hey Harry, this is Rick. I just talked to Mike. He’ll be too busy to meet with us on Sunday but he’s still interested. We’re still in the running.”

 

WAITING FOR ANDERSON
A One Act Play by Harry Hashimoto


(Two middle aged men are sitting on rocks in the desert. It is winter. It is cold. Lithographs of professional football player, Mike Anderson, are scattered all around them. Rick is dressed in an expensive, well tailored, grey flannel Nehru jacket with matching slacks and shoes. Harry is dressed in a bright yellow sweat shirt, blue jean cut offs and cheap, rubber zori sandals. Rick is on his cell phone talking to someone. He puts his cell phone into the breast pocket of his Nehru jacket.)

Harry: Nothing to be done.

Rick: I'm beginning to come round to that opinion For weeks I’ve been saying, “Harry, be reasonable, we haven't yet tried everything.” (He broods, musing on the struggle to get Anderson to sign their lithographs.)

Harry: Let's go.

Rick: We can’t.

Harry: Why not?

Rick: We’re waiting for Anderson.

Harry: He shoulda’ been here by now.

Rick: He said he’d be here. I just got off the phone with him.

Harry: And if he doesn’t come?

Rick: We’ll come back tomorrow.

Harry: And then the day after tomorrow?

Rick: Possibly.

Harry: And so on?

Rick: The point is …

Harry: We’ll wait until he shows up and signs our lithos? How long do we have to wait? Plus he owes you money! Sue him before he spends all his money at the local strip club! If you get the money he owes you, we could finally leave this place.

Rick: I’ll get my money whether he cooperates with us or not. But why sue him if he might cooperate with us? If he signs our lithos, we’ll make thousands! I’ll take what Anderson owes me out of his share of the profits. Suing Anderson is our last resort.

Harry: You think Anderson will show?

Rick: Yeah. But there’s a good chance he won’t show up.

Harry: I know. I know.

Rick: But if he shows up, our business will fly!

Harry: But he probably won’t show up.

Rick: But he might!

Harry: Maybe.

Rick: I’ll give him another call.

Harry: Man, I’m freezin.’

(While Rick is dialing Anderson’s number on his cell phone, Harry is gathering up lithographs into a small pile. Harry pulls out a match and tries in vain to light it. The curtain falls.)

 

 

Despite the return of Terrell Davis, the Broncos were easily defeated by the Raiders.

Harry Hashimoto
November 6, 2001

 

 

Postscript

The Broncos ended their season by getting wiped out by one of the weakest teams in the league, 29-10. Mike sat on the bench for most of the second half of the season. He never signed the lithographs created by Rick Jones and Harry Hashimoto.

Rick Jones resigned from his San Francisco City Hall job to open his own law practice. Because of his experience with Mr. Anderson, Rick feels that he will never represent a professional athlete as an agent or a lawyer again. He sued Mike Anderson for the $25,000 that Mr. Anderson owes him. He’s also suing for money that Mr. Anderson owes other individuals and companies. Rick feels that he will win both lawsuits because Mr. Anderson never shows up to his scheduled court appearances

After filing the court papers against Mr. Anderson, Rick was asked by a TV station employee, “Do you think Mike would be interested in appearing on ‘People’s Court?’”

Harry Hashimoto continues working part-time as a word processor.

 

Harry Hashimoto
April 12, 2002