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Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Wonderlic Test: Do You Wonder if Your Favorite Player is Dumb?

Whose smarter in the Wonderlic Test? Your average NFL player or a security guard? The average score for a NFL player is 20. For the answer to see if this beats Joe Rentacop ...and to take the test yourself...hit this link ...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Athlete Representation and the Marketing of Endorsements

[Note: the below article was written by Gerik Jenco of Del Duca Sports]

Endorsements are of great importance to an athlete because not only can it increase his annual salary dramatically it can also lead to post-athletic career opportunities. With the increasing popularity of professional sports today, marketing your client is a vital part of the athlete representation business. Whether it is the backup quarterback signing autographs at a local sporting goods store or a national television commercial involving the star wide receiver, marketing the athlete through endorsements can be instrumental in securing a long-term relationship with that athlete. Endorsements allow athletes to serve as spokespersons for companies, promote a specific brand, and even become part of the entertainment industry. In addition to receiving monetary compensation athletes may also receive the endorsing product as payment. If the product is athletic equipment in the particular sport in which the athlete plays it can be very beneficial to that athlete by aiding in his training and/or his season.

Team vs. Individual Sports

Three out of the four major professional sports leagues have a salary cap in place with Major League Baseball being the lone exception. As a result, teams can only spend so much money on its players and, consequently, players are “capped” in terms of what they can make for their on-the-field athletic ability. Therefore, players and their advisors must look for other ways for the athlete to make money. This is where the importance of endorsements comes into play. Of the top ten highest paid athletes in 2009, LeBron James (ranked 3rd overall) made the most from endorsements for athletes involved in team sports. His earnings of $28,000,000 through endorsements were nearly double his salary for that year of $14,410,581. Next on the endorsements earnings list was Shaquille O’Neal (ranked 5th overall) at $15,000,000 followed by Peyton Manning (ranked 10th overall) at $13,000,000. The top Major League Baseball players listed were Derek Jeter (ranked 9th overall) at $8,500,000 and Alex Rodriguez (ranked 4th overall) at $6,000,000. Relying on these aforementioned numbers one can interpret that although the level of importance of endorsements may fluctuate depending on what league the player participates in (i.e. NBA versus NFL versus MLB), endorsements are nonetheless very essential to an athlete’s earnings.

When dealing with individual sports – such as golf and auto racing – endorsements can play an even bigger role in an athlete’s annual compensation because the athletes in these sports only make the bigger bucks when they win a tournament/race, or at least finish near the top of the final standings. Referring back to the previous ranking list for 2009, the two highest paid spots were taken by athletes who participate in individual sports. Tiger Woods’ endorsement earnings were $92,000,000 (ranked 1st overall) which engulfs his 2009 winnings of $7,737,626. Right behind Woods was another golfer, Phil Mickelson (ranked 2nd overall), who earned $46,600,000 through endorsements, compared to his tour winnings of $6,350,356. NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who hasn’t won a race since 2008, ranked eleventh due, in large part, to his endorsement earnings of $22,000,000. Other athletes who participate in individual sports who made the top fifty highest paid list were NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon (ranked 21st overall) with $15,000,000 in endorsement earnings and PGA golfer Jim Furyk (ranked 41st overall) with $11,000,000 earned through endorsements. Again, these rankings and numbers illustrate how the endorsement factor in individual sports, such as golf and NASCAR, may be more important to these athletes than athletes in football or basketball.

Although the degree to which an athlete uses endorsements for his annual compensation may depend on the sport and league in which he plays, it is extremely important to understand the crucial part that endorsements play in the professional athlete’s life.


The representation fees for negotiating contracts on behalf of a professional athlete can range between 2 percent and 5 percent, with 5 percent being close to the maximum. Conversely, negotiating endorsement deals for that same athlete can earn the representative a fee of anywhere from 10 percent up to, and sometimes beyond, 30 percent. Accordingly, not only do endorsements play a crucial role in the lives of professional athletes but being adept at finding, negotiating, and securing endorsement deals for these athletes can be very rewarding for his representative as well.

Facebook, Twitter, and the Like

As the internet and network sites become increasingly effective in our everyday lives so, too, do they become part of the professional athlete’s daily repertoire and routine. Over the past few years we have witnessed athletes “tweeting” at halftime or on the sideline during a game, their faces plastered all over the internet, and having thousands of Facebook friends all the while still participating in the sport he plays. While some may view this new occurrence as disruptive, ignorant, or being “cocky” it has become a major marketing tool for the representative and the athlete.

Whether it is the athlete having his own website, creating his own Facebook page, or “tweeting” about the touchdown he just scored, these endorsing companies look for ways to get their name/product in the public eye as much as possible. As a result, the more friends an athlete has on Facebook, the more times he “tweets” his opinion, and, especially, the bigger his personal website becomes the more endorsement deals he could receive.

Post-Athletic Career Opportunities

An athlete’s professional playing career does not last forever so he must plan for his career after sports. Securing the right endorsements is one way for an athlete to find his niche in his new career. Through his endorsements Peyton Manning found his way to hosting Saturday Night Live, among other ventures. Chad Ocho-Cinco, a.k.a. Chad Johnson, has his own reality television show due, in part, to his “tweeting” ability and endorsement opportunities. Shaquille O’Neal has his own reality television show as well thanks to his numerous appearances through his endorsements. The entertainment industry is an obvious post-career choice because of the athlete being comfortable in front of the television public through his endorsements as well as countless interviews. However, even if you are not the star player for your particular team – as the above players happen to be – endorsements can lead into post career choices for other athletes as well. Whether it is a spokesperson for local companies, motivational speaker for community groups, or your everyday businessman, getting your name and image in the public as much as possible can help attract people to the athlete in any field in which he may endeavor.

Endorsements help create a good brand image and a good brand image assists the athlete in solidifying his confidence to make any post career move he wishes to make.

Insurance and the Economy

A recent trend in the endorsement field has athletes approaching these contracts in a different manner. Over the past couple of years more athletes have become involved in negative, off-the-field scandals or issues which have their endorsing companies taking out insurance to protect themselves against the loss of endorsements through these negative actions. When an athlete is viewed in a negative light not only does it show poorly on the athlete but it can cast the company and its product in a dark shadow as well. In addition to the off-the-field issues, the poor economy also has companies taking a more precautionary approach as to what athlete they choose, how long the contract should be, and what specific terms should be included in the contract, such as a morals clause so they can terminate the endorsement contract at will if the athlete does actions that offend society.

The recent developments in this field not only put the athlete on notice in regards to how his off-the-field behavior can affect his endorsement deals but also may put more emphasis on the decision of choosing the correct representation. The athlete wants to choose the representative that can not only handle the contract negotiation the best but who now also has the keen sense of knowing the right endorsement deal when it appears. Of course, if the athlete is a superstar in his respective sport these deals may be easier to come by but it does not mean that these same athletes are immune to the reactions in today’s world.


When all is said and done the endorsement deal has become more of a necessity than ever before. The representative wants to, and by most parts, needs to maximize the athlete’s opportunity, both on and off-the-field. The endorsement “factor” has become such an integral part of the athlete representation business that an ‘Endorsement’ class could be introduced into the growing Sports Management Educational Programs across the globe and we would still need extra time to familiarize ourselves with the concept.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

British Tax Man About to Yell Fore at Tiger Woods?

Seems that the participation of Tiger Woods at the Ryder Cup In Britain October 1-3 is presenting a major tax problem to him and other U.S team golfers -- and not in terms of being taxed by the U.K. on that event's prize money (there isn't any). The Brits want to tax a portion of Tiger's approximate $50 million a year endorsement income since he has now made the U.S. team. Read more about here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

What is BLESTO and National?

For those of you who are already thinking of the 2011 NFL draft here's a good article on what outside services some of the NFL boys use to get there draft lists together. Note some guys may be a turd on one list and a top 3 round pick on the other.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What To Get Your Local Bullfighter to Sign So He Doesn't Sue Your Ass

Waiver and Release for this type of activity

I, _____________, acknowledge that bullfighting is an extremely dangerous activity, that participation in and presence at a bullfighting venue or event, including but not limited to the bullfighting event and its related activities that is to take place at the Comanche County Fairgrounds in Lawton, Oklahoma on November 6, 2010 (hereinafter collectively the “Event”), exposes me to serious and substantial hazards and risks of property damage, physical injury and/or death, and that I have been fully warned with regard to all such risks and hazards. I realize that the risks are not restricted to only competing but also include being in the arena, behind the chutes, in the livestock holding area, pens and any other areas associated with the Event. Being fully aware that my participation in and presence at a bullfighting event will result in my exposure to substantial and serious hazards and risks of property damage, physical injury and/or death and in consideration of participating in the Event and its related activities, I, for and on behalf of myself and my spouse, children, parents, next of kin, heirs, representatives, successors and assigns, unconditionally and irrevocably agree to assume all such hazards and risks and do hereby unconditionally and forever discharge, waive, hold harmless and release Extreme Bullfighters Tour LLC and its subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, directors, shareholders, employees, members, agents and representatives (all hereinafter “EBT”) and EBT’s officials, judges, bullfighters, volunteers and contractors, together with all other parties or entities involved in the sanctioning, approval, production, organization, conduct, sponsoring, advertising and performance of the Event and its related activities (and each such persons’ or entities’ affiliates, officers, directors, employees, volunteers and agents, hereinafter collectively the “Releasees”), for any matter relating to my participation in the Event or relating to this Waiver and Release, and from any and all claims, demands, losses, costs, liabilities and responsibilities arising from or in any way relating to my participation in or presence at the Event, including any claims, demands, losses, costs, liabilities or other responsibilities that are known or unknown, seen or unforeseen, future or contingent, and whether or not such claims, demands, losses, costs, liabilities, or other responsibilities are occasioned, in whole or in part, by the negligence of the Releasees, or otherwise. In addition, I agree I will not now or at any time in the future, directly or indirectly, commence, threaten or prosecute any claim, action, suit or other proceeding against or all of the Releasees, arising out of or related to the claims, demands, liabilities and other responsibilities I am by this Release and Waiver document assuming, discharging, waiving and releasing.

Further, in consideration of being able to participate in the Event, I hereby indemnify and shall continue to indemnify and agree to hold harmless EBT (and all related companies, parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, associates, members, partners, shareholders, officers, directors, employees, agents, officials, contractors and sponsors) from any and all claims, liabilities, actions costs, expenses and all other financial obligations asserted, made or threatened by any person (including without limitation, myself, any employer of mine, any business of mine, my spouse, children, parents, next of kin, heirs, representatives, successors and assigns of mine) against EBT (and all related companies, parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, associates, members, partners, shareholders, officers, directors, employees, agents, officials, contractors and sponsors) in respect to all injuries and damage including without limitation any and all property damage, personal injury or death occasioned by me by virtue of or arising out of my participation in the Event.

The undertakings and covenants of the provisions of this Waiver and Release document shall survive the expiration or termination of the Event and are binding upon me, any employer of mine, any business of mine, my spouse, children, parents, next of kin, heirs, representatives, successors and assigns. I have carefully read and understand this Waiver and Release document and have been advised to seek legal counsel and advice pertaining to the matters released and waived herein.

I hereby acknowledge and affirm by signing below that I have read this Waiver and Release document and that I hereby intend to be bound by the provisions of this Waiver and Release document as stated herein.

Signed this ____ day of _______, 2010.

Name: (print) _______________________
Name: (sign) _______________________

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Feds Need Money, So the IRS Hammers Your Client

As the government deficit grows, the Tax Man seems to be increasing its compliance audit of big coin taxpayers. Below is a response that I sent to an IRS request for 'additional information" concerning some deductions that my client took on his federal tax return (the letter was accepted and no additional assessment was made).

Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 309011, AMC 8228
Memphis, TN 37501-0001

Re: Player X

2007 Tax Year Inquiry
Notice #: LTR 566
Dear Sir or Madam:

As tax counsel to the above taxpayers (Form 2848 attached), and incident to your notice dated November 30, 2009 (Attachment A to this letter), please find enclosed the following information that you have requested in regard to Lines 20, 21, 22 and Employee Business Expenses for the 2007 taxable year. More specifically, the following is noted in regard to the expenses deducted by the taxpayer on his 2007 tax return (the relevant portions of said return noted on Attachment B).

The taxpayer is a professional football player in the National Football League (“NFL”). Even though he presently plays for XXXXX, in 2007 the taxpayer played for the XXXXX (see Attachment C). On line 21 of Schedule A of his 2007 tax return, the taxpayer deducted a total of $52,903 for unreimbursed employee expenses. Note that there is no reimbursement policy by NFL clubs (including the XXXXX, the taxpayer’s employer in 2007); no reimbursement payments are included in the taxpayer’s 2007 Form W-2 from the XXXXX. As to the $52,903 figure, the appropriate breakdown and supporting documentation is as follows:

1. Union Dues of $10,000. The taxpayer paid to the NFL Players Association union dues of $10,000 during the 2007 tax year (see Attachment D). Note that the union dues are not reimbursed by his employer (i.e., the team). This amount of $10,000 is noted on Line 4 of the Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions Statement for Schedule A (see page 3 of Attachment B).

2. Agent Fees of $32,812. Like all NFL players, the taxpayer has an agent that handles his contractual matters. As noted on Attachment E (which includes invoices and copies of cancelled checks for 3 separate agent fees paid in 2007), the taxpayer paid his agent contracted for and deductible agent fees of $32,812 during 2007. This amount of $32,812 is part of the $38,148 amount noted on Line 4 of Form 2106-EZ (i.e., line 4 of page 2 of Attachment B). Note agent fees are not reimbursed by the taxpayer’s employer.

3. NFL Fine of $1,531. The taxpayer was fined by his employer for the infraction of being late to a team meeting; this amount of $1,531 is noted on the Year-to-Date payroll report provided by the team (See Attachment F, notation ‘F’). The amount was directly deducted by the team from the taxpayer’s pay and is a business expense. This amount of $1,531 is part of the $38,148 noted on line 4 of Form 2106-EZ (i.e., page 2 of Attachment B).

4. Equipment of $1,536. The taxpayer purchased specific shoes and other equipment for the purpose of his football profession; the amount of $1,536 for this business expense was deducted by his employer from his paycheck as noted on Attachment F (notation ‘E’). Note that the employer did not reimburse the taxpayer for this expense. This amount of $1,536 is part of the $38,148 noted on line 4 of Form 2106-EZ (i.e., page 2 of Attachment B).

5. Ticket Expense of $2,269. The taxpayer purchased NFL game tickets for individuals that were assisting him in potential various income producing activities and in his professional football career, including for his agent and other advisors. The amount of $2,269 represents the deductible business expense portion of the $6,728 of tickets deducted by the taxpayer’s employer as noted on Attachment F (notation ‘T’). Note that the employer did not reimburse the taxpayer for this expense. This amount of $2,269 is part of the $38,148 noted on line 4 of Form 2106-EZ (i.e., page 2 of Attachment B).

6. Travel Expenses of $4,755. The travel expense amount of $4,755, which is part of the $42,903 amount noted on line 1 of the Miscellaneous Itemized Statement and also separately stated on line 3 of Form 2106-EZ (i.e., pages 2 and 3 of Attachment B), relates to travel that the taxpayer made to XXXXX and XXXXX during the year for purposes of the taxpayer visiting individuals and events that relate to his job as a professional football player and other related business matters, including meeting with potential business opportunities, meeting with his football agent and other advisors, and helping to plan a football camp (see article noted as Attachment G). These expenses are included as a portion of the deduction that is noted on the Saints pay summary on previously referenced Attachment F (see notation ‘A’), it being the customary policy for teams to deduct from the paychecks of players their personal purchase of air tickets and other items such as non-team lodging expenses.

Note that as instructed by the IRS, I have also included a completed Form 13825, “Employee Business Expense Questionnaire” (see Attachment H).

It is requested that all further correspondence in this matter be directed to my office.


Ronald M. Del Duca, Jr.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What can the professional athlete deduct on his tax return?

Most agents have no clue on this issue...being a tax guy too I's what they can deduct.

NFL Draft Visits: Most Media Have No Clue

I always get a laugh when I see media mouthpieces -- which include some of the supposed 'big boys - "report" that Player X will visit a NFL team before the draft to "work out." Doesn't happen. Unless its a invited local workout for draft-eligible players who are from the team's metropolitan area (term defined by the NFL) most player invites to team HQ before the draft are 'meet and greet' sessions -- they can include medical testing but per NFL rules no "physical testing" can occur (this directly from the NFL Personnel department).  Get your facts straight people.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Player Fines: How the Wrong Nasal Strip Can Cost You 5 Grand

Besides the nuances of the salary cap and a bunch of other issues, the Collective Bargaining Agreement that governs the relationship between the players and the NFL clubs also creates the authority of both the Club and League to impose various fines upon the player in relation to his various on the field activities. This week, I will discuss the fines that the League can assess (having too many cars or wearing ugly suits is not included):

Uniform/Equipment Violation: anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000

$5000 fines

- High/Low whites on socks
- Pants not covering knees (no skin should show below the waist)
- Bandana
- Wrong nasal strip
- Hand towel alterations - towel must be 6 by 8 inches and have no tape on it
- Tape not the same color of the shoe
- Jersey untucked (usually there is a warning for this one)
- Jersey cut too short
- Sleeves coming out of jersey - only QB can have this and only a certain amount can come out
- Chinstrap undone ($7500)

$10,000 fines
- Personal messages
- Any second offense fine
- Wrong attire 90 minutes previous and after a game - clothes must be Reebok apparel
- Tinted visor - must have a doctors note for a tinted visor

In regard to the "Other Uniform/Equipment" League fines, the following rules are applied to each NFL player (Note: before the season each player receives a copy of the uniform rules both in narrative and picture version):

Jersey -- has to be tucked in. Extra short or jerseys cut above the waist are prohibited. Sleeves can not be torn or cut.

Towels -- are limited to a maximum of 6 inches wide and 8 inches long. Must be tucked into the front waist of the pants.

Exterior Socks -- must be a one-piece solid white from the top of the shoe to the mid-calf with the approved team color(s) going from the mid-calf to the bottom of the pant leg, which is to be pulled down below the knee.

Pants -- must be pulled down over the knees. The knee area of the pants must not be altered or cut away.

Shoes -- Each team must have either all-white or all-black shoes throughout the team. Note that tape on shoes and stockings must be transparent or a matching color. (Note: even though proper taping of shoes is allowed by the League, this "spakking" of shoes could cause the player to violate the terms of a shoe endorsement he may have).

Sideline Appearance -- the only caps that players are permitted to wear on the sidelines is headwear provided by an NFL authorized supplier. Smokeless tobacco is also prohibited on the sidelines.

The NFL has hired various ex-players to attend games and assess violations of the beforenoted uniform violations (the "Uniform Police"). For purposes of a player violating the cap and/or smokeless tobacco rules, the Game Referee is also authorized to use his judgment to determine whether a breach occurred.

Other fines include:

Overweight: maximum fine of $453 per lb. overwieght, the fine to be assesed no more than two times a week and at least 3 days apart

Unexcused late reporting for mandatory minicamp, team meeting, practice, transportation, curfew, scheduled appointment with Club doctor or scheduled promotional activity: maximum fine of $1,500
[Note: if player misses any of the above the fine is increased to $9,079]

Losing, damaging or altering Club-provided equipment: maximum fine of $1,500 and replacement cost

Unexcused late reporting for or absence from pre-season trainng camp by a player under contract: maximum fine of $15,888 per day

Loss of all or part of playbook, scouting report or game plan: maximum fine of $9,079

Material failure to follow rehab program prescribed by Club doctor or trainer: maximum fine of $9,079
Physical Contact with Game Official: $15,000 first offense, $25,000 second offense

Verbal or other Non-Physical Offense Against Official: $15,000 first offense, $25,000 second offense

Flagrant Personal Foul: $7,500 or higher, fine and/or suspension determined by degree of violation

Fighting: $5,000 first offense, $12,500 second offense or in extreme cases suspension

Unnecessarily entering Fight Area (active involvement): $2,500 first offense, $5,000 second offense

Unnecessarily entering Fight Area (no active involvement): $1,000 first offense, $5,000 second offense

Excessive Profanity toward Opponents, Game Personnel, Fans, Your Mom, Media, etc.: $5,000/$7,500

Taunting: $5,000/$7,500

Ejection from a game: maximum fine of $15,888

Throwing Football into Stands: maximum fine of $1,500

Foreign Substances on Body/Uniform (i.e., Grease): $10,000/$15,000
[Note: Team management and coaching staff can also be fined for permitting foreign substance violation]

Note a player can challenge the imposition of any fine and/or suspension imposed by the League through the use of an independent arbitrator to determine the sanction's validity (both in terms of whether an infraction occurred and/or the amount of fine/suspension). Usually the fine is taken out of the player's paycheck by his Club when imposed and them later refunded to him if he is successful on his appeal in having it reduced or eliminated.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Your Client has ADD? Make sure he doesn't flunk the drug test...

From the NFLPA:

The following information is needed in order for a player to be granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for the use of a stimulant to treat ADD in the NFL (this includes players at the Combine).

Letter from prescribing physician which includes:
Criteria for diagnosis
Reports of testing used to make diagnosis

They must have all of these elements to be granted a TUE. They don't have to bring it to the Combine but the sooner that they send all of this information to Dr. Brown and Dr. Lombardo, this will be taken care of.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Free Agency: If You Don't Play The Game Right You May Become "Free" From Your Client

As the commencement of the NFL free agency signing period approaches, I thought it may be wise to remind the reader of several issues that the astute Contract Advisor is cognizant of when he and his unrestricted free agent client are "shopping the market":

Free Agency Time Table. Even though I have not researched the actual numbers, it seems that a substantial number of the higher value free agent deals are done in the first 7 to 10 days of the free agency period – during this time teams tend to overpay a player rather than lose him to another team (whether the interest of competitors in the same player is real or not). After the initial 10 days, teams tend to adopt a “wait and see” approach and try to get players at a cheap price (you start to hear things like "your client really isn't very good so why doesn't he sign for the veteran minimum" while at the same time the clubs tells you Mr. Minimum can start for them).

Determining the Interest of a Team in Your Free Agent. For a player in demand, it is best to discuss preliminary contract figures with the club before your client visits. Otherwise, the client could waste an entire day at the team’s facility and in return you receive a $1 million a year offer rather than the $3 million a year you (and he) are expecting (and which would have been gladly paid by the other team that you stiffed that has now signed someone else for the position). It should be noted, however, that some teams will use “team speak” (“yeah, we can work with those numbers”) to induce your client to visit and then try to pressure your client to sign a lower deal while he is at the team facility. Forms of pressure include the free agent’s flight to another team being supposedly mysteriously cancelled ("they said something about meteor showers so you better go ahead and sign with us because it may be days before that clears up”) and the ever popular “you have 5 minutes to accept this offer – after that we’ll pull it off the table” (they almost never do).

Media. Constant media attention goes with a client who is a sought-after free agent. The media can be helpful in not only providing you information concerning management’s interest in your client (i.e., potential contract numbers) but the media also can be your mouthpiece to signal to a particular team that your client has interest from other NFL clubs (“Print it -- my client has been contacted by every professional football club in the world -- and a few from that new league on Pluto”).

Personnel Matters. Lack of knowledge regarding a potential team’s intentions on how your client fits into their scheme (i.e., starter/reserve, DE or DT, etc.) not only precludes the Contract Adviser from determining the actual interest of the team in his player but also could result in the player signing with a team that is a wrong fit -- and probably causing your client to believe you no longer fit as his agent ("you guys still have Jim Brown playing running back here, don't you?").

Judging the Market. All clients want to be paid “market value.” Obtaining contract information from the NFL Players Association as to other free agent offers for players at the same position (in terms of signing bonus, total monies paid, length of deal, incentives, etc.), and utilizing contacts you have from various teams who are competitors with the team that is pursuing your client are some of the areas that are essential to competent representation. Determining how many strip clubs, car detail joints and/or Sushi bars that are located in the city of the club that is interested in your client is not.

Contract Matters. Review the contracts of other players who play the same position as your client -- items such as signing bonus language, incentives, and deferral of money should all be known before your negotiations begin. Your guy will know what the other guys who play his position make -- and if he thinks you are doing a bad deal he'll make sure he gets the cell numbers of the agents of the other guys.

Bluffing. The interest of other teams in your client can be communicated -- but the worst scenario is for your bluff to be called by the team and you have no alternative plans. Always remember an employee for one club has a friend/contact at other clubs. Statements like "my guy is going to the Hall of Fame" or “Signing bonus?! – I thought that was his away game per diem” are not considered good negotiating techniques.

Know Your Client. If your client is not a risk taker don't try to make him one – even though it is your job to get the best possible deal for the player, you still must leave the final decision to him. During this process the opinions of a player’s wife, parents or other trusted confidants may come into play if the player wants them to be involved. Note, however, that the opinions of the player’s pet monkey Billy, former third grade class buddy Tommy or uncle Two Ton Tony should not be listened to.

You Are Only as Good as Your Client. The better the client, the more leverage the agent has. If your player is a “street” free agent (recently released with little previous playing time), haggling over a $2,000 greater signing bonus will most likely result in the potential new team saying “next.” Also note that an expected big 'payday' for your client can be influenced in a chilling manner by his off the field activities (arguing that Player X was, at the time of the accident, actually training for a public service spot titled "If I Really Drink A Lot and Drive Into A Tree I Will Promote The No Drinking and Driving Rule" is not recommended to increase his market value).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Comparing U.S. and European Sports Contracts

Basically in Europe, they don't care about your team's star player...they'll steal him anyway.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Naming Rights Deals: Is Your Product Associated with a Sucky Team?

Great article in the Wall Street Journal (which has an underrated sports section by the way) about which companies have been able to leverage sponsorship deals so that they are associated with winning teams:

"Among all companies that have put their names on a stadium where at least one NFL, NBA, major-league baseball or NHL team has played, the best track record belongs to Gillette. In 2002, the company, now part of Procter & Gamble, paid an undisclosed sum over 15 years to sponsor the stadium built for football's New England Patriots. Since the deal began, the Patriots have won two Super Bowls and a staggering 75% of their games. The second-best mark goes to H.J. Heinz and its sponsorship of the Pittsburgh Steelers' home, Heinz Field. The Steelers have posted a .656 winning percentage since that stadium opened in 2001."

The worst decision in sponsorship? Think San Francisco...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Agent Talk - A Look Back

While googling for some info for the Sports Law class I teach at Duquesne, I came across one of the old articles I wrote for a website in 2004. I can't figure which is more laughable: the graphics or the Three Stooges reference. Either way, some light (but truthful) reading.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Get Ready for the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL ...

In his recent post at the National Football Post, fellow agent Jack Bechta reconfirmed what I have been saying for months now regarding NFL team salaries in the uncapped (2010) year: with no minimum team salary, some clubs are going to use the Pittsburgh Pirate/Florida Marlins model and flood the team roster with first, second and third year players (low base salaries) in exchange for releasing (or to a lesser degree trading) veteran players who are making higher amounts in the terms of base salaries, bonuses and incentives.

Per Bechta: "... some small-market teams will take their player payrolls to as low as $50-$60 million in 2010 from the current minimum floor of $109 million per team."

Remember the minimum salaries for players will still be in effect for the uncapped year. First year players in 2010 will generally make $320,000 and 2nd year players $395,000 -- while the four-to-six year vets will be owed minimum base pay of $630,000 and seven-to-nine year vets $755,000. But like the baseball model, teams in 2010 will not be required to spend a minimum overall team salary. So if I'm an owner in Jacksonville or Tampa or St. Louis -- and my team is going to stink and/or not draw well anyway -- and I have no idea what the new CBA will eventually be like economically -- do I really have much to lose if I cut marginal vets (higher coin to pay) for a bunch of younger guys?

Another way to look at this is that the possibility of teams curtailing their overall payroll with the release of veteran players -- coupled with a lockout year -- could be a boon for a new football league (can you say "UFL?").

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Agent Day: Recognized By Some Schools, Ignored By Many

Imagine that you are once again a senior in high school. You want to go to college but are not really sure of how to handle the entire process. You can discuss it with your parents, but since they really don't have the time or expertise to keep up on all the inner workings of the college admission process, you think it would be in your best interest if the school guidance counselor assists you in evaluating potential college choices. Can the school official help you in reviewing the college information being sent to you by each school? No, he tells you, it is not in his job description. Can the school official assist you in interviewing representatives from colleges that you are considering? Once again, can't be done - that's not part of his job description and is not even offered by your high school. OK - you'll make it even easier - why doesn't the high school school invite colleges to your school so all people who are interested in going to college will have an easily accessible (and school monitored) forum to meet with institutions that will influence their future educational objectives? "Sorry, we don't do that."

The beforenoted hypothetical - a student being thwarted by school policy in his attempt to learn more about his future "partner" in the educational world - is very similar to the policy of most NCAA schools in regard to the assistance (or lack of) they provide to student-athletes who are trying to pick an agent for representation. Most schools treat the agent as a non-being, one who if they ignore will go away. Would not it make more sense to have agents attend a school-sponsored forum so that the school could monitor the interaction of the agents with its athletes who have the capability to compete on the professional sports level? While such a setting would not be fool-proof in its attempt to monitor all the acts of all agents, it would allow schools to assist their athletes in the initial screening of those individuals that are offering representation services - and also to monitor what information and representations are being offered o the students. I have attended these "Agent Days" at such schools as North Carolina, North Carolina State, Cincinnati and Tennessee. Unfortunately, at most other schools at which I recruit the second coming of Godzilla is more apt to occur than agents being invited to go on campus.

As a prerequisite for attending an Agent Day at a college, an agent is usually required to file a questionnaire with the Compliance Department of the school, the questionnaire requesting data concerning the general background of the agent's business, whether any previous clients have ever made a claim against the agent, how the agent bills his services and a list of client references. If he is then invited to Agent Day, the agent is then usually required to provide the school with a list of senior athletes he desires to meet. The school schedules meetings with those students who will meet with the agent, the meetings usually taking place on a Sunday afternoon during the season at a campus (classroom) location. At the meeting, which can be attended by the athlete's parents and/or other confidants, the agent is allowed generally 30 minutes to make a presentation of his services. Subsequent to the meeting, most agents then attempt to keep in touch with the player via telephone or e-mail until the college season (and the player's college eligibility) ends, at which time the player is allowed to formally commit to the agent for representation.

The advantages of the Agent Day process have been previously noted: the school can initially screen agents, it can supervise their actual meetings with players and also provide any assistance on-site for questions an athlete (and his family) may have when meeting with an agent in such a forum. The system is not all-encompassing, however, due to the fact that agents (and athletes) will always have the ability to evade any school supervision of the representation recruiting process.

When I have asked some school officials why they do not sponsor an Agent Day I have been given a myriad of bizarre and "they obviously don't get it" responses:

- "We don't want agents on campus."
- "We don't have the time."
- "What's that?"
- "We tell our players they don't need an agent." (this from the coach that has one)
- "The agents will talk to our underclassmen if we let them on campus."
-"We already have some agents we trust."

And my one, all-time favorite: "It's not allowed by the NCAA."

Oh, tell that to the schools that have been wisely doing it for years now.

Minor League Football and the NFL: Has the Time Come?

With the demise several years ago of NFL Europe and the fact that nothwithstanding the recent influx of more players from the Canadian Football League its format really only benefits skill postion players (i.e., QBs, WRs, RBs, and DBs) in preparing for the NFL, I think its time for the NFL to implement its own minor league system.

Sports fans are familiar with the minor league format of baseball and hockey. To a less organized degree, NBA teams have utilized the Continental Basketball Association and foreign leagues to supplement their teams. NFL teams do not have a formalized affiliation with another professional league in terms of the development of prospects. Based on a format similar to that used in Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, the following is a framework of a NFL Minor League system ("NFL Minor"):

Teams: NFL Minor would be composed of 8 teams, consisting of two 4 team divisions. 4 NFL clubs will have a direct relationship with one of the eight particular NFL Minor teams (i.e., 32 NFL teams, 4 NFL clubs per NFL Minor team.) Each NFL Minor club would be owned by the NFL, and be located in those cities (as determined by the NFL) that do not have a regular NFL club nor a perennial NCAA Division I college football power.

Allocation of Players: Each NFL club would allocate, after the completion of its NFL training camp, 15 players from its initial training camp roster to its NFL minor affiliate. There would be no restriction on age or years of NFL experience for allocated players.

Management/Coaches of NFL Minor Clubs: To be determined solely by the NFL. The advantage of such a system would be the training of management and coaching personnel for future NFL opportunities, and accelerated implementation of the NFL's affirmative action program.

Roster Determination: NFL Minor training camps would open the Saturday before the first game of the regular NFL season (i.e., around Labor Day). From the initial 60 man roster (i.e., each of 4 teams allocates 15 players), a final 50 man roster would be finalized within 21 days after the beginning of the NFL Minor camps (which is approximately the same day after the 3rd week of the regular NFL season).

Player Salaries: Any player who is allocated to NFL Minor by his original NFL club will receive $4,500 per week (which is lower than the general $5,200 a week for NFL practice squad players in 2010 and generally more annually than the overall average salaries in the United Football league and CFL). Note that any NFL Minor player who is elevated to a regular NFL club during the season (see below) would be paid the regular NFL minimum salary ($320,000 for 1st year players in 2010, etc.) while on the regular NFL club.

Player Movement: Each NFL club would be allowed to bring up one of its allocated players from its NFL Minor affiliated team without said player being subject to a claim by any other NFL club, up to a maximum of 5 times during a regular NFL season. Any attempt to bring up a player after the "5 time rule" is satisfied will not be automatic and will cause said player to be subject to claim by any other regular NFL team via a waiver system similar to the one currently used by the NFL (team with worst record gets first choice, etc.).

Note that when a NFL Minor player is elevated to his NFL Club, the club will have the option to allocate to its NFL Minor affiliate any player that it has to release to make room for the elevated player, provided that the released NFL player is not claimed on waivers per the NFL waiver system (if applicable). Any NFL player allocated to NFL Minor during the NFL regular season will earn the beforenoted $4,500 week NFL Minor salary, unless a different amount was negotiated in the allocated player's regular NFL contract. This is similar to the NHL, where players are given (after negotiation) "2 way" contracts, providing that they make a lower base salary if they play in the minor league system of the NHL club.

A team's allocated NFL Minor player can be claimed by another NFL club (the "Claiming Club") for activation to the Claiming Club's regular NFL roster at any time, subject to the right of the original NFL club, when provided notice of said claim by the rival club, to preclude said claim by electing to activate the player in question to its NFL roster (note the beforenoted "5 time rule" will not be applicable in this situation thereby allowing the original NFL club to be able to retain its NFL minor player even though it has already had 5 call-ups to the regular NFL team to date). If, however, a NFL club elects to activate to its regular NFL roster another club's NFL Minor player and the original NFL club does not elect to activate the same player to its roster, the new (claiming) NFL club must transfer its 7th round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft to the original NFL club (or if the claiming club does not have a 7th round pick in the upcoming Draft then it must transfer its 6th round pick, or if it doesn't have a 6th round pick then its 5th round pick . . . ).

Games: NFL Minor games would be played during the same time as the NFL regular season, except that a 12 game schedule would be implemented and all games would be played on Wednesdays and/or Saturday nights. The intent of this type of format is that fans would be more receptive to an NFL-affiliated league if it were played during football season and at a time (Saturday or Wednesday night) that does not conflict (usually) with college football games. Upon the completion of the NFL Minor schedule (which would coincide with the ending of the regular NFL regular season schedule), a play-off format would involve the top 2 teams in each division playing in the first round of the playoffs (#1 seed in East plays #2 seed in West, etc.), with the NFL Minor championship being played the following week. Note the NFL Minor playoffs would be on Friday nights since the NFL clubs could have playoff games on Saturday during the same time period.

Completion of NFL Minor Season: All allocated players still on the affiliated NFL Minor team would count against the NFL club's 80 man roster for the next NFL season. Any NFL Minor players released during the subsequent off-season would be subject to the regular NFL waiver rules.

The advantage of the NFL Minor system is that it would allow a NFL club to get a "second look" at a player that does not initially make its regular NFL club without actually having to relinquish that player's rights for any such players could be allocated to the club's NFL Minor affiliate. Also, by having the teams play during the regular NFL season and in the U.S., an NFL club would be able to shuffle players between its minor league affiliate and the NFL club in a manner similar to the system used by MLB and NHL clubs. Unlike the Canadian and Arena Football Leagues, the NFL Minor player would also be playing with the same set of rules and conditions that are used in the NFL. Finally, by locating NFL Minor teams in U.S. cities that would be identified by the NFL as being receptive to NFL-affiliated football, the operating cost of the league should be less that the NFL paid to maintain NFL Europe.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

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