Buying stock in a professional athlete is a great idea with virtually no downside*

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah, it's probably a terrible idea.

I'm here to talk to you about an exciting investment opportunity with Fantex Brokerage Services.

Yes, Fantex has taken everything fair and legitimate that you love about short-term speculative investing and turned it into a marketplace where you can bet on the career earnings of your favorite professional athletes.

Still confused? No problem, let me explain the process to you.

Last week, Vernon Davis had his "IPO," which made him the first athlete to have "shares" of his future earnings put out on the open market. He received a $4 million cash payment from Fantex in exchange for 10 percent of every dollar that the "Vernon Davis" brand makes on and off the field for the rest of his life. Fantex then turned around and sold shares to the general public at a price of $10 per share, which allows investors to take part in Davis' future earnings.

The great thing about this system is that the players have to self-report their earnings to Fantex. This is a good idea, because 78 percent of NFL players are reportedly broke within two years of leaving the NFL, so they would probably be fine with making sure their investors were still getting 10 percent of everything that they earned, including coaching salaries, broadcasting salaries, businesses using their name and likeness, autograph shows and anything else the athlete does to generate revenue off from his sports career. I'm sure a startup athlete stock exchange will be more effective than the Internal Revenue Service when it comes to making sure that former athletes are paying what they owe.

It's also a good thing that athletes don't have boards of directors or any contingency plans designed to reduce the "hit by a bus" factor that real companies have. Why bother investing in a company with thousands of employees when you can invest in a company that is actually just one person? "Oversight" is only three letters away from "overhead," and a smart athlete will keep his costs low by not having any sort of governance.

Next up on the IPO list is E.J. Manuel. Fantex is projecting Manuel to have career earnings of over $100 million, which seems ridiculously optimistic here. His asking price is going to be $10 a share, or one dollar for every game he was healthy enough to play last season. After Manuel, it's Arian Foster, whose hamstrings are made out of the same material that his investment prospectus was printed on.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think that, on the whole, this could be a good deal for the right athlete. If a player wants to retire, he can look at an IPO, take a payday and royally screw over whoever decided to sink a few paychecks into betting on an athlete's future production.

Free idea for Fantex: Players should be allowed to acquire other players via hostile takeover. For example, Arian Foster should have had the rights to acquire Ben Tate, LLC, last year to minimize his risk. In fantasy football we call it handcuffing, and who wouldn't love for players to start taking partial ownership over their backup's future earnings.

One minor issue is that no one is really buying the stock. Aside from one single transaction of 2,000 shares earlier in the week, there are only about 200 shares of Vernon Davis stock being traded over the course of any given day. So if you were to buy a few thousand shares, you might be stuck with them until someone as dumb as you are wanted to invest in a professional athlete or the SEC begins its inevitable investigation into the company.

Generally speaking, you want to use a brokerage service that didn't have a net loss of $3.5 million dollars before it had even conducted its first IPO, but I'm just kind of splitting hairs here. The REAL opportunity is for you, the fan, to be able to claim ownership of your favorite players.

To be fair, Fantex does label all of its investment opportunities as "high-risk," which is quite a bit of an understatement since we're talking about an industry in which three-quarters of its "companies" will eventually declare bankruptcy within two years of retiring from the game. I just don't see this ending well for anyone involved, for about a dozen reasons off the top of my head. It's a group of investors who are trying to take advantage of a grossly enormous thing, and all enormous things taper away eventually.

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