SBJ/March 4 - 10, 2002/Labor Agents

NFLPA doesn't think Elway or agent violated rules in secret Broncos bargain

The NFL Players Association does not think that former quarterback John Elway or his agent violated any rules in a secret deal that gave Elway the right to buy 10 percent of the Denver Broncos at a deeply discounted price.

"We have been advised that the agreement did not involve any playing services by Elway," said Richard Berthelsen, NFLPA general counsel. "As such, we don't view it as a violation by Elway or any agent acting on his behalf."

Marvin Demoff is Elway's contract adviser.

The NFL collective-bargaining agreement prohibits secret deals in which players are paid for their playing services.

The NFLPA enforces the labor agreement for agents. The NFL, which enforces the teams' compliance with the agreement, would not comment on whether it is looking into the deal.

 McGWIRE'S A HIT: Sports Placement Services received about 70 phone calls in the two days after announcing it had signed baseball great Mark McGwire for representation, said Harlan Werner, CEO of the Los Angeles-based firm, which specializes in representing sports legends.

"We are getting calls on everything, including movie roles," said Werner, whose company represents Muhammad Ali, Joe Namath, Sandy Koufax, Jim Brown and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

One reason for the big interest, according to Werner: "During his record-breaking season, he turned down in excess of $25 million in deals. He wanted to concentrate on baseball and be the best he could be for his teammates."

Now that McGwire has retired from baseball, he is more open to endorsement deals, although he will be selective, Werner said.

  McNEIL FORMS ATHLETE NETWORK: San Diego Chargers veteran Pro Bowl defensive end Ryan McNeil has formed the Professional Business and Financial Network, an association to help professional athletes establish businesses and careers after their playing days are over.

"It is basically a membership-based organization for professional athletes, both current and former, in all sports and for both genders," McNeil said. The organization will be funded by member dues, the amount of which has not yet been established, and sponsorships, he said.

The organization's first Business Skills and Development Conference, planned as an annual event, is set for May 5-7 in Dallas. Speakers will include NFL greats Roger Staubach and Franco Harris, both successful businessmen and entrepreneurs, McNeil said. Subjects to be discussed at the conference include starting your own business and maintaining your business.

McNeil, already the owner or part-owner of a technology company, a real estate firm and a business consultancy, said he has been thinking about creating this kind of organization for three years. He envisions a network in which a player who wants to become a restaurant owner, for example, can call a retired athlete who has a successful restaurant business.

Athletes who have spent most of their adult lives playing sports usually have not gotten the experience needed to be successful in business, McNeil said. "There is a huge learning curve we have to overcome," he said.

For more information about the organization, go to www.pbfn.org.

  INTERPERFORMANCES SIGNS TAYLOR: Interperformances Group has signed University of Toledo running back Chester Taylor, who was named most valuable player for the North team in the Hula Bowl, for representation.

Chicago-based Interperformances also signed Memphis wide receiver Ryan Johnson, Florida wide receiver Brian Haugabrook, Valparaiso fullback Brett Durham, Indiana cornerback Marcus Floyd and Ball State wide receiver Corey Parchman.

Interperformances agents Herb Rudoy, Alonzo Shavers and Todd Melloh will represent the players.

  LOFARO SIGNS TWO BUY.COM PLAYERS: Lofaro Sports Management, a boutique agency founded by California lawyer Tom Lofaro, has signed Buy.com Tour players Chad Wright and Michael Walton for representation.

Lofaro, who founded his sports practice in September 2000, now represents six players on the Buy.com Tour. "Buy.com is a tougher sell, as opposed to the PGA Tour. ... But [Buy.com] players are very marketable, and they do get deals," he said.

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

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