Extortion attempts not uncommon in pro sports

Monday’s surprising revelation that a former Baylor basketball player allegedly traded disparaging information about former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III for money raises an obvious question:  How often does stuff like this happen?

A source with knowledge of the Griffin case and other similar situations provides a surprising answer:  More often that you realize.

Every pro athlete has a past, and not every pro athlete’s past is flattering.  People who can get a pro athlete in trouble and/or diminish his marketability will from time to time seek cash in exchange for silence.

Most people don’t realize it’s illegal.  In many cases, the player simply pays the money and moves on.

In some cases, the player’s representatives point out to the extortionist that what is being proposed is a crime, and the extortionist goes away.  In a rare handful of cases, the player and/or his representatives alert the police.

That’s what happened in Griffin’s case, and it resulted in Richard Hurd (pictured) being caught red-handed.  More athletes should respond to such situations the same way.  However, that creates a very real risk that genuinely embarrassing information will makes its way into the public eye, accomplishing precisely what the extortionist threatened to do.

In Griffin’s case, the fact that the guy had nothing made it easy to call the cops.  The fact that plenty of others who make these threats actually have something real and embarrassing makes it likely that plenty of athletes will keep paying the money and moving on.