Shaquille O’Neal, a tower of power at 7-foot-1 and 325 pounds, feels the need to protect himself off the basketball court with a gun. He is licensed to carry a concealed weapon. So are many other American sports figures, including NBA stars Paul Pierce and Vince Carter, NFL standouts Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, and Daunte Culpepper, and New York Yankee pitcher Carl Pavano, according to a Boston Globe review of concealed weapon permits.
In an era in which rich and famous athletes increasingly perceive danger in the worlds they inhabit, legions have armed themselves against muggers, carjackers, jewelry-snatchers, and various other predators they consider potential threats. Players and team officials estimated a vast majority of NBA and NFL athletes carry firearms — legally or illegally — and that the number of handgun owners among them has reached an all-time high.