Tampa, Fl - He wore number 72 and was a powerful defensive end for the Bucs, the Rams and the Bills and now Chidi Ahanotu is in the trenches in a battle with an law firm that is tougher than any offensive lineman he ever faced.
Ahanotu says he decided to represent himself against one of the biggest and most expensive firms in Tampa.
Ahanotu was trying to get custody of his three kids and not only did he lose that battle but also the court ordered him to pay his ex-wife's attorney fees which he says he couldn't afford.
The former star football player says he had been out of the NFL for three years and he was making his NFL disability pension and his ex wife was taking half of that.
The nine year veteran was making $42,000 a year from his disability pension and the court ordered him to pay his ex wife's attorney's fees which amounted to $95,000. According to Ahanotu it is money he didn't have. He says it is a long time since he has seen NFL money and he can't pay it.
And because the former NFL player says he couldn't pay the fees, the Solomon law firm, who he owed the money, went back to court. Ahanotu says each time the firm went back to court their fees grew, but the child support he pays to his ex wife stays the same.
He says the attorney's bill jumped to $130,000 and his ex wife continued to get $2,000 a month. He says there is something a little unbalanced, their law firm wants Ahanotu to surrender his NFL championship ring so it can be sold to cover the legal bills. While they say he told them he didn't have the ring someone saw him wearing a similar ring during the last Super Bowl in Tampa. He has been ordered to appear in court, bring the ring and surrender it or face incarceration.
Ahanotu says they are taking a man's once in a life time accomplishment to pay the attorney fees.
Meantime, Ahonatu says his ex wife filed bankruptcy and the court absolved her of owing the $130,000 in attorney fees. He says if she has been cleared it should mean the attorney fees are set aside.
And while the Solomon Law Firm acknowledges Ahanotu's ex did file bankruptcy and the court did forgive the $130,000 she owed, they also say he is responsible for those debts and they intend to collect it from him.
Ahanotu says they are going to the hearing Thursday and he says he will see what happens. The former NFL star says if we don't hear from him he will be in jail.
And now a judge will decide whether it is Ahanotu or the law firm gets sacked.