Feb
13

Scoop Jackson Misses The Mark On His “African American Agent Epidemic” Article

Title an article, African-American agents, and us, and you are bound to grab my attention.  Last week, Scoop Jackson wrote that such article, which seemed to serve as his reaction to Luther Campbell’s recent column titled, Superagent Drew Rosenhaus should give back to Miami’s black communities, wherein Campbell said that Rosenhaus needs to give back to the African-American community because individuals from that community have allowed Rosenhaus to earn his riches.  However, it was much more inflammatory than Campbell’s piece.

Here is a strong paragraph from Jackson’s article:

It no longer is about why some sports agents from outside of the ‘hood are continually allowed to “visit” and take talent without essentially giving anything back. It’s about how it’s been eight years since Eugene Parker negotiated a contract for Larry Fitzgerald to make Fitzgerald then the highest-paid rookie in NFL history; but, of the 96 players (76 of whom are African-American) chosen in the first rounds of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 NFL drafts, only 18 were represented by black agents. That’s 18.75 percent representation. Barely above the 15.62 percent representation of black head coaches in the League.

Visit and take?  I am not sure that Jackson uses the most accurate language in his piece, but then again, the words he chooses are purposefully inserted to prove his subjective point.  I do not believe that talent is “taken” from the hood.  Instead, talent actively seeks to leave the hood and looks for good representation (or a short-sighted handout).  No one put a gun to players’ heads and told them they have to sign with white/latin/Jewish agents.  But central to Jackson’s piece is what he views as black athletes looking past, over and around black agents, which he considers to be an epidemic.

I find it rather interesting that to prove his point, he cites Greg Townsend as an example.

As the story was told by former NFL agent Josh Luchs in a piece for Sports Illustrated called “Confessions of an Agent,” Townsend, while playing for the Raiders, befriended a ball boy. The ball boy, Luchs, got in good with the player. Townsend even had the kid drop a urine sample for him to help him try to pass an NFL drug test. (Townsend eventually was suspended for testing positive and wasn’t able to use the ball boy’s sample.) In Townsend’s mind, the ball boy, all of 19 years old at the time, seemed to “care about the players” and because of that — and the fact that the kid was a “New York Jewish guy” just like Raiders owner Al Davis — Townsend suggested that the ball boy become his agent.

Accurate statement, except for the fact that Luchs co-represented Townsend with a black agent.  Jackson went to great lengths to take away any ounce of credit from the “New York Jewish guy” without doing an ounce of research to realize that the Jewish guy worked with an established black agent.

I agree with Jackson when he states that white agents do not owe black folks or the black community anything.  There is no obligation.  However, I am blind to the epidemic Jackson speaks of.  Perhaps it is because I am neither black nor from the hood, but I highly doubt that.  Next time, Jackson should actually interview black players and ask them why they chose white agents over black agents.  My guess is that it had little to nothing to do with race, and mostly was based on track record, expertise, and quite possibly some of the up-front “gifts” we read about so often.

  • Frank Johnson, III

    Numbers never lie and unless your a black agent it’s always easy to say it’s not because of race that an agent didn’t get an opportunity. I would love to share my story with you being the first African American Agent in the NBA from Baltimore.

  • Ercfoster

    I think your point about athletes leaving the hood and seeking good representation is illustrative of Scoop’s point.  He’s saying that black athletes overlook black agents.  I don’t think you have to be black to understand that point.  I think it’s just an extension of the saying, “When in Rome…”  It’s logical for someone to feel that a white owner might be more inclined to negotiate with someone who looks like them.  I think Scoop would agree that white agents aren’t putting a gun to these athletes’ heads.  He’s just making the point that black athletes are looking over black agents who may be from the same communities.

    • http://www.darrenheitner.com Darren Heitner

      But should an athlete sign with an agent just because he/she is from the same community?

  • Aaron Bowie

    I don’t know Darren. I see your point. But, I just can’t imagine a situation where Anglo-Saxon, Asian or Jewish people would allow themselves to conduct 85% of their business with people from other races. This doesn’t seem like a qualification issue either. I’m sure there are more qualified black jurists than there are athletes. Pretty sure about that.

    • http://www.darrenheitner.com Darren Heitner

      Let’s talk about numbers. Why didn’t Scoop ask the NFLPA the percentage of black NFLPA certified Contract Advisors? I bet it’s not 85% of those certified. So push qualifications aside. There just are not as many black NFLPA Contract Advisors as there are Jewish NFLPA Contract Advisors. Blame the athletes for that?

      • Aaron Bowie

        Darren numbers don’t lie. So if your numbers are correct they speak for themselves. But, just because the numbers aren’t proportional doesn’t mean the numbers aren’t sufficient. As far as blame, well of course you can’t blame the athletes for numbers that are far out of their control. But, it would be nice to see athletes exhibit a greater consciousness, awareness and social responsibility. I’m not saying a player should choose an agent solely or primarily on race or ethnicity or community origin. That would be ridiculous. But, it should play a small role in determining who to do business with, just as it plays a role in the Latino community, Asian Community and the Jewish Community even the Italian and Irish Communities (Irish not so much anymore). I think these groups understand the importance of taking these factors into consideration and I think they are intelligent for doing so.

        • http://www.darrenheitner.com Darren Heitner

          I have a problem with providing based on need instead of based on output. No individual is entitled to business based on his/her color. It should be based on skill. Because race may play a role in various communities does not make it any more proper.

          • Aaron Bowie

            Darren you’re right. It doesn’t make it any more or less proper. If everyone took your approach things would be much different (It only takes one man to be the catalyst). As for entitlement, no. Absolutely not. I said “small role” something along the lines of the Rooney Rule. As for the need/output approach. No comment. I like the purity of this argument within the realm we are in.

  • Mikemill

    Yes, I think money plays a part, but I also think there is a certain sub consciousness built in a young athletes mind from the time they leave high school.  Most college coaches are white, most NCAA administrators, most NFL executives, and coaches.  It’s an NFL agent’s job to make the athlete believe they are the best person to do the job.  When an young black athlete only percieves white Anglo-Saxons in the industry they may tend to believe they are the best qualified to do the job, and race may play a part in that. 

    How many white athletes have had black agents?

    • http://www.darrenheitner.com Darren Heitner

      Peyton Hillis comes to mind. But what about Joby Branion? What about C. Lamont Smith? Black agents who work with white agents. It’s not so clear cut..

  • IveSeenEnough

    One of many reasons I give less than a damned about black athletes.  Why should I?  I don’t care how they’re treated by the media,  I don’t care how they’re treated by owners and management.  I don’t care how they’re treated by the fans.   And I don’t care if they wind up broke and livin in their momma’s basements after 5 years in the league.  They give away a few turkeys on Thanksgiving and a few toys on Christmas and that’s supposed to make a big difference in the lives on people who worship them?  In every market where millionaire athletes ply their trade their should be a business incubator creating business and building capacity.   Their should be excellent charter schools baring the names of their benefactors.   I’ve seen none of that so I’m not surprised that these guys don’t hire black managers and agents.   It’s just par for the course.   It’s just funny that the minute they hit a rough spot and things aren’t going their way anymore they always seem to be conveniently re-negrofied

  • IveSeenEnough

    One of many reasons I give less than a damned about black athletes.  Why
    should I?  I don’t care how they’re treated by the media,  I don’t care
    how they’re treated by owners and management.  I don’t care how they’re
    treated by the fans.   And I don’t care if they wind up broke and livin
    in their momma’s basements after 5 years in the league.  They give away
    a few turkeys on Thanksgiving and a few toys on Christmas and that’s
    supposed to make a big difference in the lives on people who worship
    them?  In every market where millionaire athletes ply their trade their
    should be a business incubator creating business and building
    capacity.   Their should be excellent charter schools baring the names
    of their benefactors.   I’ve seen none of that so I’m not surprised that
    these guys don’t hire black managers and agents.   It’s just par for
    the course.   It’s just funny that the minute they hit a rough spot and
    things aren’t going their way anymore they always seem to be
    conveniently re-negrofied