To the ancient holiday question of what to get the man who has everything, we can now answer: a subscription to OT, the world's most sumptuous service magazine, in whose glossy pages you can shop for the Batmobile or Karl Malone's mansion or the masterworks of Renaissance painting, any one of which beats a bottle of Old Spice.
Of course, you can't get OT: The Business and Lifestyle Guide for Professional Athletes unless you're a current or former professional athlete--it is also comped to owners and agents and the like--which explains why the average annual household income of the quarterly's 25,000 recipients is $1,570,000.
OT is also the Auto Trader for pro athletes. Looking for an understated car, not new but newish? There's a 2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Roadster for only $2 million. (But then it is bereft of that new-car smell.) Want to buy the four-story, 20,000-square-foot, never-lived-in New Jersey estate of former Red Sox infielder John Valentin? You'll not only find that in OT, but also the means to finance the purchase. Marquis Loans will float you "up to $20 million" with "no income or asset verification." They know where to find you--your schedule's in the paper.
The founding editor and publisher of the two-year-old OT is former Pro Bowl cornerback Ryan McNeil, who retired in 2004 after a 12-year career with six teams. "Some of these things are nice," he says with a laugh from his office in downtown Atlanta. "But I'm so conservative that I only enjoy them vicariously, through the magazine." Thus McNeil won't be ordering a life-sized bronze statue of himself, even though sculptor Victor Issa of Loveland, Colo., is now accepting such commissions. (Allow eight to 12 months for completion, more if you're Shaquille O'Neal.) Nor is he likely to hire Brian Alex, who will compose a love song to please the squeeze of any wealthy patron. "Yes my songs are expensive," reads his ad. "Of course, so is divorce."
If you do get divorced, OT is filled with news you can use, service journalism for superstars. "The contract the athlete signed before marriage or cohabitation becomes the most important deal he or she will ever negotiate," write Robert Nachshin and Scott Weston, who were Barry Bonds's divorce attorneys and the authors of the book I Do, You Do ... but Just Sign Here. The current issue of OT carries the cover teaser: Child Support--What You Need to Know.
Then again, there are plenty of articles on how to be a good father from the road and how to set up a philanthropic foundation. "I took over a decade's worth of expertise from the locker room," says McNeil. "Is this the Holy Bible? No. It's a guide, a reference, a resource for anyone connected to professional sports." And so an article written by a Nashville-based media coach teaches athletes to always remember in interviews that "media opportunities are your moments to shine, your mini-commercials. Promote yourself, your agenda, your image...." Hey, wait, is this OT or TO?
For the nonathlete, OT is more Peephole than PEOPLE a voyeuristic keyhole into another dimension in which houses have 100-foot theme-park-caliber waterslides like the one at Karl Malone's Salt Lake City estate, advertised for auction in the Spring 2005 issue. But if you are an athlete, OT addresses every stage of life, from childhood ("Let us show you why an Arabian horse is a wise choice for you and your children") to senescence (the City of Legends near Orlando is a retirement community exclusively for former professional athletes, easing the transition from frequenting hip joints to breaking them).
Not all retired athletes can relate to OT. "You must have sent one to me by mistake," former punter Spike Jones writes in a published letter to the editor. "I'm one of the older guys who played in the NFL in the '70s and my salary averaged about $28,000 per year." Chances are, he won't be buying that Escalade-chassised golf cart on page 131 of the current issue.
But if your salary is closer to 200 times $28,000, you might want to buy the Batmobile from Batman Returns or subscribe to Pro Serv's Athlete Concierge package, which includes a "Yacht Procurement" service and--where have you gone, Isaiah Rider?--a date-reminder service.
An aim of journalism is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, but someone needs to give comfort to the already comforted. And so OT's 2005 holiday gift guide is a Sears Wishbook for the eight-figure-salary set. It features designer sunglasses by Nefarious (3.44 carats of diamonds set in platinum frames for $30,000) and the Grande Venetian bed, known as "the NBA bed" because of its 12-by-10-foot double-king dimensions. Sure it costs $64,000. But that does come with sheets.
• If you have a comment for Steve Rushin, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the nonathlete, OT is more Peephole than PEOPLE, a voyeuristic keyhole into another dimension in which houses have 100-foot theme-park-caliber waterslides.