Jay-Z the agent already a threat; London is calling; more mail

Tuesday June 18th, 2013

Jay-Z sold his minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets last April in order to become a player agent.
Kathy Willens/AP

Andrew Brandt is a former NFL team executive and player agent who is here to take all of your questions on the business of football and more. Got one? Find him on Twitter and he'll answer it in a future mailbag.

In his first mailbag with SI.com, Brandt answers some of the more popular questions surrounding the news of the offseason.

What do you think of Jay-Z joining the agent business? Weren't you somehow involved when Ricky Williams was being represented by Master P?

Yes, I was the agent fired by Ricky Williams so he could hire Master P to represent him instead. I had spent two years recruiting and signing Ricky, who was to be the watershed client of my career (and someone I still find fascinating), so it stung.

Although Master P, and other music impresarios after him, did not succeed in the sports agency business, I believe Jay-Z will. He has proven success in a variety of businesses and his name has and will continue to draw.

Indeed, his formidable presence is being felt. Top agents are now paying far more attention to their top clients, especially those playing for New York area teams, and we are already at a point where when we see a player leave an agent, we look to connect the dots to Jay-Z.

I do wonder why Jay-Z wants to do this, and whether he will lose interest over time. He can certainly have the company of any player he wants without representing him, and the monetary impact of representing players, even elite ones, is trivial in his empire.

Do you think the NFLPA's investigation into Jay-Z's recruiting without a license will amount to anything?

I think the NFLPA has to be careful here. The rule in question -- Section 3(B)(32) of the NFLPA Regulations Governing Contract Advisors -- prohibits agents using "any individual in the recruitment of prospective player-clients who is not Certified." Well, good luck enforcing that.

The rule's purpose is to curb the use of "runners" who embed themselves in the lives of players, usually college players, not to prohibit influential people from helping an agent get business. Taken literally, the rule would put virtually every agent at risk for violation for using (non-certified) clients to recruit prospective ones; an established practice in the industry.

There seems to be a lot of talk about London these days. Could you see a team there?

Yes I could, although not before the next CBA after 2020. The time is coming. We are a long way from when I started in the World League of American Football in 1991 as general manager of the Barcelona Dragons, where fans cheered at the wrong times and did "the wave" the entire game. There is now a growing drumbeat that started with one game a year in London, which will double to two next year and perhaps doubling again to four in a few years.

When the planned "home team" for London, the Rams, begged off due to their own stadium issues, Jaguars' owner Shahid Khan pounced. Khan is part of a new breed of NFL owner that understands, appreciates and is aggressive toward new streams of revenue, and is getting a toehold into an international market relatively untapped by our country's most popular sports league.

As to concerns that some, especially players, seem to have about logistics: (1) we are a long way from the adverse conditions we faced in the World League, when we had to put tables with pillows at the end of beds to keep players' feet up when sleeping due to less-than-ideal arrangements; (2) I expect the union will gain tax and per diem allowances for London players in the next CBA; and (3) we can probably count on two hands how many current players will be in the NFL when a London team may materialize. Let's chill on how hard it would be to have a team in London.

I read DeSean Jackson is being sued by Drew Rosenhaus for over $400,000? Can this be true?

This report, from Yahoo! Sports, exposes the seamy underbelly of a rough business. As a client from 2009 until March 2012, Rosenhaus provided significant funding to Jackson, who was headed for a lucrative contract extension (he secured a $51 million deal that included a $10 million signing bonus a year ago). Now, after a divorce between the two, the repayment of those loans has become an issue.

This episode illustrates how agents subsidize players even while in the NFL. And the sad reality for agents like Drew is that if a player like Jackson can't get loans from him, he'll find another agent from whom he can.

There is some solace for Rosenhaus. He will continue to receive fees from that extension, as per NFLPA regulations governing player-agent relationships, without having to service what was clearly a high-maintenance client in Jackson. Of course, based on the nonpayment of previous loans, we wish Drew luck chasing down those fees.

Franchise players like the Broncos' Ryan Clady and Bills' Jairus Byrd are being noncommittal about coming to training camp. Can the teams fine them?

No. They are unsigned players and thus free to miss any mandatory -- or voluntary -- event without discipline. This is the tradeoff of the franchise tag. For a team, it can take a player off of the free agent market and retain his rights. The player, meanwhile, makes a very large one-year salary, although without security of a longer term deal, and can show up when his salary kicks in at the start of the season in September. For Clady, his weekly game check will be substantial: $578,000. Thus, while he may be coy about showing up for camp, he'll be there when the real games are played. And Peyton Manning will exhale.

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