SBJ/January 14 - 20, 2002/Labor Agents

Boras makes foray into football but says he won’t try to recruit players

In what will surely be good news for NFL agents everywhere, baseball agent Scott Boras says reports of his plans to launch a full-scale football practice have been greatly exaggerated.

"We will not be actively recruiting football players or actively soliciting football clients," said Boras, who was scheduled last week to take a test to be certified as an agent by the NFL Players Association.

Boras

Boras is getting certified to represent Chad Hutchinson, the former Stanford quarterback and minor league baseball player, as he tests the NFL market. Boras added that he has hired an NFLPA-certified lawyer to formally accept offers for Hutchinson's services from NFL clubs.

Twelve NFL teams have already submitted "offers" for Hutchinson, Boras said, but he would not identify the teams.

Now, the bad news for the NFL agent community: Boras said two NFL players contacted him about representation after reading that he planned to get certified. Boras said he is considering whether to take on the players, whom he would not identify.

"Frankly, we are leaning against it," Boras said. "The problem with many sports agencies is the fact they spend a great deal of time soliciting players in multiple sports. It is time consuming. We are a company that is committed to doing one sport very, very well."

REICH STILL IN HOCKEY: Veteran baseball and hockey agent Tom Reich will keep his hand in the hockey business, despite selling Horizon Sports Group, which he co-owned with hockey agent Pat Brisson, to sports agency IMG last year. Horizon represented about 35 NHL players and 25 NHL prospects.

Brisson joined IMG and became co-director of the hockey division with longtime IMG employee J.P. Barry. Reich, who co-owns baseball practice Reich, Katz & Landis, didn't join the agency.

But Reich said he's not going to drop relationships that he has nurtured for years, including those with hockey clients such as Luc Robitaille and Chris Chelios.

"Those are some of the best relationships I have ever had in hockey," he said, "and I have no intention of letting those diminish."

Reich actually worked for IMG with partner Adam Katz in the early 1990s, but the two went independent after first selling their company to the agency.

Reich's new relationship with IMG will be less formal, but Brisson said it will be valuable.

"It will be up to him as to how much input he has," Brisson said. "I would be foolish not to take advantage of his experience. Tom has been more than a partner to me."

Reich said his involvement is "good for the deal." Like many sports agency acquisitions, the Horizon-IMG deal contains a provision in which the future performance of the company increases the value of the deal.

Reich is also free to represent players on his own.

EVERLAST LOOKING FOR ENDORSERS: Boxers have historically had a tough time getting endorsement deals, but the new ownership of longtime boxing apparel and equipment manufacturer Everlast plans to change that, at least a little bit.

"We are trying to be the big corporate player in the boxing world," said Adam Geisler, director of marketing for Everlast Worldwide Inc., which was acquired by Active Apparel Group last year for $60 million.

The company has signed welterweight champion "Sugar" Shane Mosley and heavyweight contender Fres Oquendo to endorsement deals. The company is in talks about deals with four other fighters, Geisler said.

Geisler would not disclose the value of the deals but acknowledged that "they are not high-figure endorsement deals."

Geisler said the company plans only to sign fighters with integrity. "We are looking for character in a sport that has had a difficult time marketing itself," he said.

HARRINGTON SIGNS WITH DUNN: Oregon quarterback and top 2002 NFL draft prospect Joey Harrington has signed with David Dunn and Athletes First. Valerie Harrington said her son, who interviewed agents with Octagon and IMG, chose Dunn because "their personalities just clicked."

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

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