Headline Sports Law

Football Agents Fighting It Out In The Wild Wild West?

Immediately following the NFLPA’s decertification as a union for NFL players, turning it into a trade association representing professional football players’ interests, Twitter blew up with football agents Tweeting their concerns that athlete representation is going to turn into the Wild Wild West.

Nate Haber of PlayersRep Sports Management tweeted: “With the decertification of the NFLPA, now anyone can represent players if/when lockout ends. Biz just went from dirty to sewage.”

Blake Baratz of The Institute for Athletes commented: “Union decertifies. Unbelievable. Consider my business the wild wild west. Now I just need a horse and a holster!”

Brian Ayrault of Ayrault Sports Agency jokingly wrote: “No agent regulations….Rosenhaus signed 74 new clients in the last 56 minutes”

The concern for many agents is certainly justifiable.  Even with a players association in place, players frequently changed agents, which has been documented in part through our On To The Next One column.  Without the NFLPA, some agents may think that they have a “Get of of Jail Free Card” and will be able to poach competitors’ clients.  The new trade association cannot do anything about it, but agents who lose their clients to unscrupulous competitors may have a legal action in tort.

As discussed at length in the past, an agent who has a legal contract with his client, which is terminated based on the client’s recruitment by a rival agent who knew of the former contractual relationship, may have a solid claim of interference with contractual relations.  It is probably in a football agent’s best interest to have his clients sign representation contracts immediately if the relationship has been solidified only through a Uniform Player Contract formerly filed with the NFLPA.

Want to see what a Count for interference with contractual relations looks like within a Complaint?  Check out Count II of the Complaint filed by Tennessee Football, Inc. in a matter against Lane Kiffin, embedded at the bottom of the post.  And it can certainly be applied to the agent profession.  In September 2010, an arbitrator ruled that Andy Miller must pay Keith Glass $40,000 in damages for technically stealing a client.

Following decertification, I Tweeted, “Football agents: Client stealing still illegal. Tortuous interference w/contractual relations. I’ll happily rep you in court vs. scumbags.”  I stand by that statement.

Make sure to follow football agents along with many other athlete agents on the Master Twitter list of sports agents/agencies.

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.

One reply on “Football Agents Fighting It Out In The Wild Wild West?”

oh know, is the NFL going to be another victim
to a Govt Bailout. Hurry quick before they appoint
Barney Frank as the new commissioner.

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