SBD/Issue 61/Law & Politics

U.S. House Subcommittee Takes On NFLPA-Agent Relationship

Arrington Testifies In U.S. House
Subcommittee’s NFLPA Hearing

Members of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Commercial & Administrative Law held a hearing Thursday on the NFLPA’s relationship with NFL player agents, and “suggested that in order to ensure more impartiality during the process of disciplining player agents, the union should consider selecting from a panel of arbitrators instead of using the same arbitrator every time,” according to Thomas Heath of the WASHINGTON POST. Testimony was heard from suspended agents Carl Poston and Steve Weinberg, as well as Giants LB LaVar Arrington. NFLPA General Counsel Richard Berthelsen represented the union (WASHINGTON POST, 12/8). While the NFLPA allows disciplined agents “to appeal to a ‘neutral arbitrator,’ Arrington said that the arbitrator is union-selected and may not be impartial.” But Berthelsen said arbitrator Roger Kaplan has “decided hundreds of player-agent disputes over fees and other matters, and has ruled in favor of agents far more often than not” (Baltimore SUN, 12/8). He added that the union’s rules “have withstood legal challenges made by a handful” of agents. But Committee member Sheila Jackson (D-TX) called it an “unfair system,” and said, “We’re looking at a situation that begs for legislative relief” (L.A. TIMES, 12/8).

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