The NFL has its own Rookie Symposium, in which first-year players are advised to take care of their money, avoid the wrong kinds of entanglements, stay away from obviously risky situations, and keep their eye on the ball at all times. This season, Adam "Pacman" Jones and Michael Vick were among the veterans who spoke to the rookies about the best ways to avoid their own cautionary tales. It's a good idea that presents some level of benefit, but the Minnesota Vikings aren't satisfied with sending their kids off to the NFL's lecture series -- they have set up their own.
For the second time in the last three seasons, the Vikings organization has invited Sean Bishop, the "director of advertising" of a Daytona Beach strip club called the Lollipops Gentlemen's Club (he was stripped of his proprietor title after going to jail for six months after attempting to bribe two county commissioners) to speak at the team's Winter Park facility.
"I don't need their money," Bishop recently told Brian Murphy of Twincities.com. "I tell them I am a scumbag club owner who will use and abuse you. I just don't want to see any of them ruin their lives. They need to be protected from themselves."
As a man who has lived a lot of his life on the edge of the law, Bishop would know what that kind of life can get you. Lollipops is known as a prime hangout for NASCAR folks, but his clientele also includes many members of the local Hell's Angels, and he isn't known as the Tony Soprano of Daytona Beach because he resembles James Gandolfini.
In fact, the tatted- and muscled-up Bishop looks more like Dog the Bounty Hunter with a do-rag, but his message should be prime listening for the team that has led the NFL in arrests with 10 since 2011, and 39 since 2000. No, it's not the Detroit Lions; it's the Vikings. Adrian Peterson's recent arrest in a Houston club looks fishier and fishier the more you peer under the hood, but the truth is the same -- this is a team that consistently has trouble understanding how to stay on the right side of things.
Bishop tried to tell the young players that club owners like him see NFL players as easy marks.
"I can buy 100 cases of Crown Royal [whiskey] for $36,000, and the distributor will just give me 15 cases of Captain Morgan [rum] that I can sell for $5.25 a shot and [pay off] the whole transaction. I can sell a guy a bottle of beer for $4.25 when it costs me 26 cents, and Uncle Sam keeps track of every nickel.
"But I get a $3 cut for every $20 lap dance, and on a race week it's nothing to get 4,000 lap dances. And that doesn't include the $10 it costs to enter the VIP area or the $60 each girl pays to work here as an independent contractor. I'm buying drinks for pennies, and I'm making a percentage off your thousands."
Bishop, who has also been invited by the Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders to talk with their young players, is a longtime friend of Vikings executive director of player development Les Pico, and that's how this started.
"He's not a choirboy by any means," Pico told Murphy about Bishop. "I can't legislate morality. Sean's a guy who isn't afraid to talk negatively about the business he's in. Our owners give us great latitude allowing us to run these programs and put a convicted felon on a plane to come here and talk to our rookies about why they shouldn't be in strip clubs."
And that's the message. You think you're invincible, kid? You're not, and Sean Bishop has seen more than enough to tell you you're not.
"These guys get comfortable in the VIP section and think they're not being seen and forget where they're at," Bishop said. "Being a competitive athlete, it's hard for them to turn the other cheek or swallow their pride and walk away from bad situations. Instead, they make a scene and forget where they're at because the owner's treating them like a king, they're young and think they're invincible when all it takes is one snapshot and you're done.
"I don't need [players'] money. I'm in a dark business. It's almost sad. They're too easy to push into trouble."
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