Lizards Owner Reels in the Big Fish - Paul Rabil

By Peter Schwartz

The baseball world was turned upside down on December 26th, 1919, when the Yankees purchased Babe Ruth's contract from the Red Sox for $125,000 and $300,000 in loans. Fast forward to January 6th, 2015, when a blockbuster trade shook up the lacrosse world and again it involved New York and Boston.

On that day, the Boston Cannons shipped midfielder Paul Rabil to the New York Lizards in a mega three-team deal that also involved the Ohio Machine. The best player in the world and the face of Major League Lacrosse was on his way to the number one market in the country, and he would help the Lizards capture the 2015 MLL title, their first in 12 years.

That trade proved to be a good business transaction for the Lizards in more ways than one.

"Once you have a rock of a foundation like he is, it's like having a Cy Young award winner on your team," said Lizards owner Andrew Murstein. "You can always count on him. He makes everyone on the field better, and you know that he will be there to stop the bleeding if we ever lose, which under his leadership has been rare. We have the best record in the league over the past three years, and he's a big part of why that's the case."

Rabil has provided the Lizards who two amazing seasons so far with 74 goals, 43 assists and 124 points. He picked up MVP honors in the 2015 MLL title game with 3 goals and 3 assists in the Lizards' 15-12 win over Rochester. The Lizards came up short of another title last season, falling to the eventual champion Denver Outlaws 20-17 in the MLL semifinals.

After the 2016 season, Rabil was a free agent but signed a new two-year contract to stay in New York. It was important to the Lizards to retain the biggest piece of their championship puzzle, and management was thrilled that they could get the deal done.

"I'm very happy," said Murstein. "Paul represents the best in lacrosse, both on and off the field. He belongs in the biggest market to showcase his talents, and I hope he ends his career here. I hated to see my good friend (former Knicks center) Patrick Ewing leave New York and have a Seattle jersey on. Something just didn't feel right with that. I hope Paul is going to be remembered as a Lizard and play the rest of his career here."

So on Saturday night when the Lizards open up their 2017 season on the road against Chesapeake, Rabil will be donning the team's brand new uniform. The Maryland native was happy to arrive on Long Island two years again, and he's even more pumped up to have re-signed with an organization that he has grown to love.

"I feel fortunate to have been traded from Boston to New York," said Rabil. "To be able to win a championship your first year in New York was really impactful for me. I have a lot of fire for this organization and the people that are involved and want to do well by them."

And he did just that in his first two seasons with the franchise.

Rabil is worth every penny the Lizards are paying him for everything he brings to the table both on and off the field. He was the first lacrosse player to earn more than $1 million in endorsement deals, and his presence on the Lizards has helped the team not only win plenty of games and a championship but he's also been good for business.

In 2014, the year before Rabil's arrival, the Lizards drew an average of crowd of 4,415 fans per game. That number jumped to 5,293 during Rabil's first season in New York, and the crowds kept coming in 2016 with an average attendance of 5,259. A look around Shuart Stadium during Lizards' home games would show plenty of fans wearing #99 Rabil jerseys, meaning the former Johns Hopkins star is a hit on the field, at the box office, and at the merchandise stands.

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