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.