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David Dunn Of Athletes First Speaks To SBR

athletes firstYesterday, I reported that Athletes First led the pack of agencies in terms of number of clients drafted this year with a total of 16 players taken in the 2 days of the NFL Draft.  Its President/CEO is David Dunn, who I have discussed on the blog a long time ago and recently had the privilege of meeting at the 2008 Princeton Sports Law Symposium.  He recently joined Brian Berger on Sports Business Radio.  To hear the segment with Dunn, skip to about the 25 minute mark.

It has been a while since Dunn’s 18 month suspension handed down by the NFLPA, and it surely does not seem to be affecting his business.  In the segment with Berger, Dunn started off discussing the process behind the rise of Mark Sanchez leading up to the draft.  He admitted that he does not have very much control over draft day and that its actually his clients who can influence their draft stock through workouts, visits with potential suitors, etc.  Interestingly, Dunn and Athletes First represent both Sanchez and his competitor for the starting job on the Jets, Kellen Clemens.  Dunn dodged a conflict of interest question posed by Berger pretty effectively.

Mike Florio of also brought up the conflict of interest yesterday.

Every agent should want his client to be a starter — and should be doing everything he can to make the case for the player to start.

Clemens needs an agent who’ll be doing just that.  And Sanchez needs an agent who’ll do the same, especially since his contract will have a big-money one-time bonus triggered by participating in 35 percent of the snaps this year, of which Dunn will get a fee.

Dunn, however, has no choice but to keep his head low and his mouth shut.  So, neither guy will be getting the best possible representation.

It’s a conflict of interest.  And one of the two players should hire a new agent.

Though, on the surface, Dunn and his colleagues at Athletes First might not appreciate our decision to raise this point, Dunn likely would be relieved if Clemens decided to hire another guy, so that Dunn could then begin doing everything he can to ensure that Sanchez will be the Week One starter.

As far as marketing Sanchez, Dunn stated that his approach to marketing is more conservative than most for incoming rookies.  His philosophy is to let the players’ performance on the field help them on the marketing end.  So don’t expect Sanchez to have any huge national media campaigns anytime soon, but do expect Sanchez to take at least a few jobs in the NY region.

Besides talking about Sanchez, Dunn discussed the collective bargaining talks and how he is not as opposed to a rookie cap as many in our profession are.  He represents a lot of veterans and does not mind more money going to them instead of unproven rookies.

Berger’s last question was: What is it really like to be an agent?  Dunn responded by saying that he has taken a few red-eyes and coach lately, had his kid throw his phone in the toilet, and talked to owners of teams while changing his kid’s diaper, but he loves his job.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

3 replies on “David Dunn Of Athletes First Speaks To SBR”

How come we don’t address the conflicts of interest in the NFL? At one time Steinberg(one of my personal favorites ) had a QB on every team AND all 3 QB’s on the Steelers team. But then Dunn gets sued for stealing his clients???? wow

If the clients are told about the potential for a conflict of interest and still agree to be represented, then I do not have an issue. I especially do not have an issue if those clients are advised to obtain outside counsel in determining whether they should be concerned or not. It would be very difficult to create a bright line standard in this matter.

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