Aug
03

What Would You Do…? – Your Client’s Concussion Problems

MUST BE TUESDAY BABY! Which obviously means a brand new “What Would You Do…?” among many other totally awesome things. So stop thinking about how much you hate your job, and play agent with me for a hot minute here. We obviously have SO much sports agent material to use between the whole Darrelle Revis contract situation, Roy Oswalt’s contract situation, and Albert Haynesworth’s whole bag of issues that could be an entire column itself.  However, I’d like to take a step back from all this nonsense and let you knuckleheads think for yourselves. I’m actually extremely excited to see how you react to this week’s column, “What Would You Do…”

Right now you represent a STUD running back out of San Diego State University. And he is, in fact, an absolute stud, but that’s no surprise to you because you’ve known he’s had playmaking potential since the moment he graduated high school. The only reason he wasn’t playing at USC is because he had three concussions in high school, and one in 8th grade. So now you have a client who has a history of concussions, four dating back to his 8th grade year. As Rashard Simpson (great RB name right?) progresses, he becomes a top 8 Fantasy Football RB going into his 3rd year in the NFL. While there are no true statistics of how he did relative to his team, let’s say Simpson’s stats mock that of a modern day Ronnie Brown.

Simpson enters training camp going into his third year in the pros. He is your client. And as his agent, you just pulled off an amazing deal for him – more than the market price for a 3rd year NFL running back, whatever that number may be. However, there is a clause in his contract pertaining to concussions. Simpson’s contract has a bunch of incentive bonuses attached, including a clause that states, “If Simpson stays healthy for 14 games, Team will pay Simpson a bonus of $500,000.” You know your client; other than those ‘freak accident’ concussions, has been a healthy football player his whole life.

It is July 17th, and your phone is buzzing crazy on vibrate at 1:25am on an early (for you at least) Saturday morning. Rashard Simpson just took a back flip off of his boy’s diving board, landed awkwardly, and sustained a concussion. Your initial reaction is a few expletives. You are furious that your client could pull a stunt like that, ESPECIALLY given his history of past injuries. As Simpson’s agent, you have a couple of issues to deal with.

Obviously, if his NFL team finds out about this ordeal, his career could in fact be over. He drives 90 miles to your house the next day. Rashard Simpon is aware of the repercussions that his actions have on his contract, let alone his career. You sit down with Rashard and you let him know how aware you are about this fiasco, which may be a fiasco to you, but just a ‘minor issue’ towards your client. Regardless, Simpson has a clause in his contract pertaining to concussions in the NFL. If his current team finds out about this, we might as well kiss his ass good-bye, because there isn’t really a legitimate future for him. You explain the situation to your client. Simpson responds in a surprisingly mature fashion by letting you know how fiscally aware he is concerning his current contract, and what the consequences might entail.

He proceeds to tell you that he wants you to keep this as a secret from the front office of his current NFL team. You have a dilemma. If you abide by your client’s orders, his contract remains intact and he just may have a break-though season. However, you have your client’s safety in jeopardy. You know about his previous concussions, which were most likely under-looked when he was drafted, being that those concussions took place back in high school. You know if you tell the front office, you are not only going against your client’s wishes, but also possibly voiding a contract that you so skillfully negotiated. But keep in mind, if you keep your mouth shut, there is a solid possibility that your client suffers another concussion, probably career ending, and whose fault is it at that point?

What Would You Do…??

  • Kirk B

    You have to tell the team. Agent-player relationships are almost as important as agent-team relationships. If word gets out that you knew about Simpson’s concussion, that is your head on the line. That blows up your credibility and likely diminishes other teams trust in you as an agent. Less client’s signed. If that RB really wanted to keep his concussion a secret, why tell his agent in the first place? He’s a client not you’re best friend. Maybe you lose a contract, but you gain esteem in the NFL as an honest guy. Organizations will respect that.

  • Mitch

    This is a great hypo Jim. I think that Kirk makes a great point about integrity, not only for this client, but also future clients. How much would any team in the future, let alone the current team, trust you if they later heard through sources that you failed to disclose this injury. Further, if you are an agent that moonlights as an attorney (or visa versa), you may have certain professional responsibility/ethics rules that may require you disclose, or at a minimum not lie if asked about the situation if it is asked of you. Thus you could risk your attorney’s license, depending on the state, and your professional agent integrity, by not sharing this information with the team. Your client may have to realize the hard way that his personal life will have greatly affected his professional life in this situation.