Football season is back! College teams have started already, and the pros kick off this weekend. So welcome back to the energy and excitement of game day. Enjoy the pageantry and the tailgating as the days get shorter and the air gets crisp. And don’t forget the tax liens!

What?!? Don’t forget the tax liens . . . ? That’s right, sometimes the surest hands in the game drop the ball on their taxes.

We’ll start our tour of NFL tax offenders with Plaxico Burress. The free-agent wide receiver, who once signed a $25 million contract with the New York Giants, owes New York state a cool $59,241 in tax. Of course, Burress is no stranger to the law – he spent nearly two years scrimmaging behind bars after accidentally shooting himself in the leg at Manhattan’s glitzy Latin Quarter nightclub.

Running back Jamal Anderson played eight seasons for the Atlanta Falcons, where he earned the nickname “Dirty Bird” for his touchdown celebration dance. But the IRS will be dancing in the end zone when they collect $478,247.57 in unpaid taxes for 2007 (when he appeared on MTV’s “Celebrity Rap Superstar”) and $627,015.94 for 2008 (when he appeared as an analyst for ESPN). Like Burress, Anderson has also had brushes with the law – in 2012, he was arrested for drunk driving, and in 2009, he was arrested after Atlanta police reported him snorting cocaine off a toilet bowl in the Peachtree Tavern’s restroom.

Quarterback Ken Stabler led the Oakland Raiders to a 32-14 win over the Minneapolis Vikings in Super Bowl XI. (That was so long ago, people paid more attention to the game than the commercials!) Now it looks like he’ll be playing for the IRS. Earlier this summer, a federal judge sacked Stabler for $259,851 in unpaid business and personal taxes. (Oh, and the IRS piled on for another $5,509 in penalties.) Stabler’s attorney says the former passer has sold his house to help pay the debt, and will also make monthly payments out of income he earns appearing at NFL events.

At least Burress, Anderson, and Stabler actually filed their returns, even though they didn’t pay. Cornerback William James played for the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, and San Francisco 49ers. Apparently he lost his W2 in one of those moves. Federal prosecutors say he earned over $9 million during his career – but failed to file returns for 2005-2009. Now he faces up to a year in prison and $100,000 in fines when he’s sentenced later this month. Oops!

And what about everyone’s favorite former All-Pro felon, O.J. Simpson? Would you be shocked to learn that “the Juice” is fumbling his taxes, too? That’s right, the IRS announced just last week that they had tackled him with liens for $15,927.89 for 2007, $105,119.71 for 2008, $49,490.27 for 2009, and $8,897.20 for 2010. Of course, taxes are probably the least of O.J.’s worries right now, considering he’s got 29 years left to serve on armed robbery and kidnapping charges. And he still owes murder victim Ron Goldman’s family $33 million in civil damages!

There’s not really a specific tax-planning lesson here – we just hope you’re paying more attention to the game than these guys are!     

Either way, you can trust us to keep an eye downfield for you, and help you stay out of those IRS tackles!

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