NFL agent Damarius Bilbo has been fined $12,500 and suspended for three months from representing NFL players. The decision, after Bilbo appealed earlier discipline, was announced by the NFL Players Association on January 8.
Initially, Bilbo was suspended for one year and fined $50,000. It was reduced after Bilbo challenged the decision originally made by the NFLPA’s Committee on Agent Regulation and Discipline (CARD).
The NFLPA failed to provide specific details surrounding Bilbo’s acts that lead to the arbitrator imposing the fine and suspension. It only revealed that the discipline was based on “violations of the Regulations Governing Contract Advisors.”
That said, I have learned through a few reputable sources some details concerning the situation.
One of the prominent NFL players represented by Bilbo is Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Bilbo allegedly received a marketing check intended for Landry and deposited it in Bilbo’s business account. His intention was to wire the money to Landry, minus the commission, but was tardy in accomplishing same.
The check was actually sent by the NFLPA to Bilbo and included both Bilbo’s name and Landry’s name.
From Bilbo’s perspective it was considered an oversight; Landry was never upset with Bilbo and did not want Bilbo to be penalized by the NFLPA. Landry did not terminate his engagement of Bilbo as his agent.
It probably would never have even become an issue for the NFLPA’s attention had it remained an internal matter between Bilbo and Landry. In fact, Bilbo allegedly corrected the error and Landry has received the monies that were due to him.
However, the NFLPA received notice concerning the situation and decided to follow up on it. The odd part about the whole situation is that Landry insisted on Bilbo receiving no punishment, yet Bilbo has been suspended for three months, at a time when he is needed by his clients.
Vern Inge, the lawyer representing Bilbo in his appeal, said that “As Arbitrator [Roger] Kaplan’s opinion states, Damarius did everything he could to resolve all issues. The union understands that there were no intentional bad acts. The player involved has steadfastly supported Damarius, including testifying in his favor and expressing his displeasure with the union. The player is no longer working with the advisor who made the report to the union.”
Many other agents seem upset by CARD seemingly cherry picking the complaints that it follows up on and sees no value in penalizing an agent who ultimately did not harm his client. Bilbo had a marketing agreement with Landry that stipulated he could deposit checks related to off-field work; he was simply late in paying out the money to Landry. Further, it is odd that the NFLPA would have sent Bilbo the check and included his name on the check, for a royalty that it knew was due to Landry.
If the union is supposed to be putting the interests of the players above all else, and if Landry indicated he preferred no punishment for Bilbo, then why even reduce the suspension? Why not eradicate it altogether?
Bilbo tells me that he is not upset. He will stand by his players, including Landry, Xavien Howard, Melvin Gordon III and Alvin Kamara. He will be working with other agents to service his clients and hopefully sign new recruits during his three month suspension.