By Jemele Hill
Page 2

You didn't pay for two dollars to bring the girl home
Now you're about to pay 2,000 to leave alone
See another woman out there, you wanna make a change
She ain't gonna watch you
'Cause you won't have a damn thing
– Jim Liban, Junior Brantley, "It's Cheaper to Keep Her"

I want half EEDDDIEE!! -- Eddie Murphy, "Raw"

Aside from "paternity test," the scariest word for any professional athlete is "half."

The Strahans
Jason Nevader/WireImage.com
Jean and Michael Strahan appeared to be a happy couple just two years ago.

Undoubtedly, there was a collective tremor among pro athletes when days ago, a New York judge ordered Giants defensive end Michael Strahan to pay his now ex-wife, Jean, $15.3 million -- half his net worth -- more than $200,000 in child support, and 90 percent of his kids' school tuition as part of their divorce settlement.

Forget Scott Boras. It's all about Ellen Marshall, Jean Strahan's attorney. And given the large sum of money Strahan will be shelling out for years to come, it's only appropriate that he endorses Subway.

Question: When will sports figures learn that divorce court is the one place they are woefully overmatched?

Jeff Gordon's split from his first wife, Brooke, cost him $15.3 million (see, Michael Strahan shouldn't feel so bad). Mike Tyson -- two divorces, $20 million. Nick Faldo's second ex, Gill, walked away with a $4.7 million mansion, a $6.3 million payoff, and a $790,000 pension for her work with Faldo's foundation. (Although the punch line to the Faldo story is that Faldo eventually left the 20-year-old that broke up his marriage for an older woman: 26-year-old Valerie Bercher, whom he married in 2001 and divorced in 2006.)

You might have heard that professional athletes have a tiny problem with fidelity, which is why divorce court tends to be nothing more than an elaborate torture mechanism for them.

Some of you are understandably disturbed that women who never took a hit on a football field, won a Masters or World Series could command a divorce settlement that is roughly the gross national product of Burma.

But to be fair, while being the wife of a professional athlete guarantees a certain amount of fame and financial security, it can be somewhat taxing when you're at the grocery store checkout, and you see your husband has just had an affair with a porn star. For the third time that week.

Truthfully, Strahan has no one to blame but himself.

The same guy who inked a four-year, $32 million contract with the Giants -- of which $12 million was guaranteed -- is the same one who signed one of the worst prenuptial agreements in the history of modern professional athletics.

Who negotiated Strahan's prenup? A Fraggle? He signed a prenup that entitled the former Mrs. Strahan to 50 percent of the couple's joint marital assets and 20 percent of his yearly income for every year the two were married. All of a sudden Billy King taking on the humongous contract of Chris "No Knees" Webber seemed like a stroke of genius.

I'm no divorce specialist, but I thought the point of a prenuptial agreement was to prevent one party from making out like the gang in "Ocean's Eleven" when the marriage is over. And any prenup that guarantees half of anything -- I don't care if it's half the Oreos -- is a bad deal.

To make matters worse, Strahan put up a defense in court that was as ridiculous as the one Tyson's lawyer presented at Tyson's rape trial (I'm an ignorant savage, but I'm not a raping, ignorant savage); as asinine as R. Kelly's explanation for filming himself urinating on a teenager (Your Honor, that was my brother!); and as stupidly illogical as sprinter Dennis Mitchell's excuse for why he had an excessive amount of testosterone in his system (five beers, four rounds of sex with the wife).

Strahan's lawyer told the judge his client shouldn't be forced to uphold the terms of the prenup because Jean Strahan didn't ask for her 20 percent each year of their marriage. She didn't ask for it, so no way she deserved it -- never mind that an ironclad document showed otherwise.

Now how on Earth could Superior Court Judge James Convery not be blown away by that logic? I, for one, can't wait to use a similar defense with bill collectors. Clearly Michael Strahan was out of his league in this one. His wife questioned his sexuality, labeled him a cheapskate, and walked away with half of his money. That's a flying elbow off the top rope.

Someone, tell me that Jason Kidd, whose divorce battle is sure to be just as vicious as the Strahans', is somewhere taking notes. Kidd better use the Jordans' Rules -- which is, give her what she wants, and don't give her the opportunity to testify about real or imagined unseemly behavior.

Juanita and Michael Jordan's divorce late last month after 17 years of marriage was a sophisticated, classy operation. Although there are widespread rumors that Juanita was cut a check big enough to get her on the next Forbes list, at least it was done quickly and quietly.

Kidd, who drew first blood by accusing his wife, Joumana, of abuse, has no idea what he's getting into. When this is over, Joumana will have the triple-double: alimony, assets and child support.

Strahan can storm his former castle all he wants. But obviously, love don't live there anymore.

Jemele Hill, a Page 2 columnist and writer for ESPN the Magazine, can be reached at jemeleespn@gmail.com.




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DIVORCE COURT