SBJ/September 24 - 30, 2001/Labor Agents

Agencies, athletes finding ways to help raise money and raise spirits

Among the many sports agencies planning ways to help the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were IMG and Athletes First.

A committee of top executives of Cleveland-based IMG, whose agents represent many of the world's most famous athletes, was formed last week to create a companywide plan to not only raise money, but "raise spirits," said IMG spokeswoman Linda Dozoretz. Athlete agents, IMG event managers and television executives are involved in the effort, she said.

"IMG officials are working on a number of proposals and we are opening it up to other members of the staff nationally and internationally," Dozoretz said. "There will be more than one project companywide, event-wide, athlete-wide."

IMG agents have been having conversations with athlete clients, who have been calling and asking how they could help, Dozoretz said. The company set up a special in-house e-mail address for suggestions.

The IMG relief effort may be completed and announced early this week.

Athletes First, the firm created by agent David Dunn, was in the process last week of setting up a fund that will grow with the on-field successes of the firm's more than 25 NFL clients. The fund, called Support for Community Operations and Relief Efforts (SCORE), will benefit the United Way's September 11th Fund, said Brian Murphy, COO of Athletes First.

Donations will be made based on NFL clients making touchdowns, field goals, safeties, interceptions, sacks and fumble recoveries, as well as how many wins each client's team has this season, Murphy said.

Athletes First executive director Joby Branion said the Newport Beach, Calif., agency is in talks with three companies about making donations. The exact scoring and dollar amounts to be contributed had not been worked out at press time.

Branion and Murphy urged anyone who wants to contribute to call (949) 798-5650 and to check the company's Web site, athletesfirst.net, for details.

Athletes First plans to announce the amount of money raised at a Super Bowl party in New Orleans next year, Murphy said.

 TIGER WOODS DONATES TO AMERICAN EXPRESS FUND: Tiger Woods has donated "a very, very significant amount of money" to a relief fund that was being set up by American Express, which was directly affected by the tragedy, said Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent. Steinberg wouldn't reveal the size of the donation.

Woods, who counts American Express among his endorsers, also agreed to appear in a special video created for AmEx employees who were trying to cope with the tragedy. American Express headquarters were adjacent to the World Trade Center. The company was among the many with employees missing after the attacks.

"[Tiger] was taped in a video voicing his concern for them and his compassion for them," Steinberg said.

  HOFFMAN TO DONATE ENDORSEMENT PROCEEDS: San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman will donate all of the proceeds he receives for the Papa John's Pizza endorsement he recently signed to relief efforts for victims of terrorist attacks, said Erik Burak, marketing director of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, which represents Hoffman in marketing and contract matters.

Hoffman recently signed a one-year deal to be a spokesman for Papa John's "Who is Your Hero?" essay contest in the San Diego area. Burak wouldn't disclose the financial terms of the deal, which includes radio and print advertising and an appearance by Hoffman.

Contact Liz Mullen with labor and agent news at lmullen@amcity.com.

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