Posted by Sabrina B. @gametimegirl
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Chidi Ahanotu may have to choose between his NFC Championship ring and a jail cell.
The retired defensive lineman, who played in the 2001-02 Super Bowl for the St. Louis Rams, was supposed to turn over his ring Thursday to partially satisfy judgments secured against him by the law firm that represented his ex-wife in custody battles.
Ahanotu owes the firm about $130,000, according to lawyer Matthew E. Thatcher.
But instead of bringing the ring or the money, Ahanotu brought a new lawyer, Melton H. Little, who sought to delay the proceedings.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Liz Rice would not grant a continuance but scheduled a Wednesday hearing at which Ahanotu will have a few choices: produce the ring; satisfy the judgment; give a good reason for not complying; or go to jail.
Ahanotu did not say where the ring was or whether he intends to produce it. He said it means a lot to him and that he planned to will it to his sons.
Asked outside the courthouse whether he would go to jail rather than turn over the ring, Ahanotu deferred to his attorney, who wouldn’t let him respond.
“I want to answer,” Ahanotu said, although he didn’t.
He said he’s not afraid of jail.
“The Lord’s on my side.”
No one knows the ring’s value, although all parties agree it’s only a small portion of what is owed.
Thatcher said that if Ahanotu turns over the ring it will be sold at a sheriff’s auction.
Little said he will seek some sort of solution before Wednesday, perhaps involving a partial payment in order to buy more time.