For NFL players, 'surviving' lockout easy if they go by the book

Ever wonder how your favorite Ravens might cope with a possible lockout?

Do you picture them ditching their iPhones because the service plan is suddenly too pricey? Or trading in their Escalades for the better gas mileage of a Honda Civic? Or switching from expensive liquor and champagne to Bud Light to save a few bucks?

No, neither do I.

Which is why you should go online and check out the NFL Players Association's 64-page lockout handbook, which is chock full of helpful tips on how players who make an average salary of $800,000 can survive a work stoppage.

"A lockout can mean stressful times," the handbook points out helpfully in a section titled "Eat, Drink and be Merry." "Reducing expenses doesn't mean you must stop living."

Oh, no, God forbid.

"A few minor tweaks," the handbook continues, "can mean the difference between blowing the budget and maintaining solidarity."

And what are some of those minor tweaks?

"Hit the grocery store instead of the restaurant" is one. Right. Like a lot of your NFL stars would even know where the local Mars or Giant is.

"Leave the club with your wallet and budget intact" is another, which might as well be titled "What to Say To Your Entourage."

"Let your friends know that you intend to have a good time, but they will be responsible for their own food and drinks," the handbook advises. "Don't allow yourself to be taken advantage of by people who want you to pay for their fun."

Oh, boy, does that one ring a bell.

I remember being out of work back in 1987 when the Newspaper Guild went on strike and we manned picket lines outside The Baltimore Sun.

And the first thing I told my wife was: "Honey, we're still going clubbin' with the fellas. But they're picking up their own tabs. We gotta cut back."

But all work and no play apparently makes your average NFL player a dull guy.

So the handbook advises, look, if you're going to party, "Party with a purpose and network your way into your future career. Strategically use your time off to establish contact with successful individuals or potential business partners. Invite them out for a drink, lunch or even a round of golf."

If there's an over-arching theme to the handbook, though, it's this: A lockout is not the greatest time to be living the over-the-top, NFL-superstar lifestyle.

No, you probably won't be clipping coupons or microwaving a can of Dinty Moore stew at the 7-Eleven. But you might want to go easy on the fur coats and bling.

"Purchase what you need, not what you want," the handbook advises. " … Clothing and jewelry have very little re-sale value."

Along those same lines, "Nix the personal shopping assistant, stylist and recurring clothing purchases," the handbook adds in yet a second reference to what must be legions of NFL clothes-horses.

Then there is the section titled "Cars and other motorized toys."

What, your car isn't just a "motorized toy" for you? You say you need it for other things, like going back and forth to work, driving the kids to school and basketball practice, etc.?

Well, that's your problem.

NFL players have different problems with their rides.

"Consider selling a car you have not driven in the past months," the handbook advises. You know, your spare car. Or cars. The Bugatti in the garage, I'm talking about.

Then the handbook veers suddenly back to the whole entourage thing.

"If you are making car payments for friends, now is the time to stop," it says. "Explain to your friends that you are preparing for a major change in your financial circumstances and that you can no longer extend these privileges."

OK, we have covered expensive restaurants and clubbing, clothes and jewelry, entourages and the fancy cars NFL players love.

So what's left?

You got it: Their big homes! Their cribs!

Which is where we arrive at my very favorite piece of advice in the NFLPA's lockout handbook: "Turn off all utilities at a home you rarely use."

Still, even if your average NFL player follows all this advice during a lockout, he might find himself struggling — if that's the word — over what to do with the few hundreds of thousands of dollars he has left.

Again, the lockout handbook comes to the rescue.

"Paying taxes is not an option. It's the law," it says sternly. "Failure to do so can result in a criminal conviction."

Because the IRS boys are tougher than a hundred Ray Lewises. And they don't fool around.

(Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.)