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Vincent Jackson, Phil Mickelson share tax woes

KAPOLEI, Hawaii -- If anyone can relate to Phil Mickelson, it might be Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

No, Phil never had a contract dispute with former Chargers general manager A.J. Smith, but the two athletes each became very wealthy men in San Diego. And while one (Jackson) has already split town, the other (Mickelson) is contemplating it, too.

After Sunday's PGA event near Palm Springs, Calif., Mickelson stated he might have to take "drastic measures" and move out of California due to the recent changes in the state's tax laws that have placed a large financial burden on the golfer.

Mickelson said his tax payments this year could balloon to "62 or 63" percent of his total income. According to Forbes, the golfer has PGA career earnings surpassing $73 million, and makes about $40 million annually in endorsements.

Jackson, meanwhile, left San Diego last year in free agency for a state that is one of five without an income tax. The fact Florida has favorable tax laws for workers was only a "bonus" once he got there, not really a factor in his decision.

"My choice was based on football, the team, the organization," Jackson said after Wednesday's NFC practice in preparation for Sunday's Pro Bowl. "I was aware of (Florida's tax laws) but it wasn't in my top five criteria.

Jackson signed a five-year, $55.55 million deal with the Buccaneers last offseason. It's a much bigger deal than the one he had with the Chargers. Had he stayed in California, he would have seen much less of it.

"Players are aware of the money coming out of their checks," he said. "They know that once you hit that certain (pay) level, it's heavy. But we deal with it."

As a sidenote, I find it fascinating how men making varying degrees of millions view their earnings so differently. Mickelson wants to protect as much as he can, as is his right. Jackson never considered the tax benefits of living in a tax-friendly state. And then there's Lorenzo Alexander.

I bumped into the Washington RedskinsPro Bowl special teams player in the elevator of the Ihilani Resort here. He was rolling a large suitcase with two pairs of Nike shoe boxes on top.

"What's better than this?" said the first-time Pro Bowler, who signed a three-year deal worth $3.8 million in 2010 and will become an unrestricted free agent in March. "All this free stuff -- food, shoes."

Andy Fenelon is a senior editor at You can follow him on Twitter _@AndyFenelon_.

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