SBJ/March 11 - 17, 2002/Labor Agents

Madden's former train companion helps him make trip from Fox to 'MNF'

Sandy Montag's first job at sports agency IMG 17 years ago was to work with broadcast client John Madden, the former Oakland Raiders head coach who happened to have a fear of flying.

"IMG hired me to ride with him by train," said Montag, who recalled that his first official IMG title was something like "gofer." A few years later, Montag became Madden's agent. He now is IMG's senior vice president in charge of broadcast talent.

Late last month, Montag helped negotiate one of the biggest deals in his career and in sports broadcasting: Madden's move from Fox to ABC's "Monday Night Football." Montag won't talk numbers, but the deal has been reported as worth about $20 million over four years.

The deal followed the decision of IMG and Montag client Pat Summerall, Madden's broadcast partner at Fox, to leave the network.

"After Pat Summerall decided to step down, John and I had been discussing what we should do," Montag said. "The more we talked about it, we thought if he was going to make the move and leave Fox, now would be the right time to do it."

The problem was that Madden had a year left on his contract with Fox. Still, Montag and Madden went to Fox Sports chairman David Hill and Fox Sports executive producer Ed Goren.

"We told David and Ed at Fox that this is something that John wanted to do at this point," Montag said. "They basically said, 'We'll do it for John.' "

The Super Bowl last month was the last hurrah for the team of John Madden and Pat Summerall, both represented by IMG senior vice president for broadcast talent Sandy Montag.

Montag said Fox was gracious, and allowing Madden to go was unprecedented in sports broadcasting.

While some published reports have speculated that Fox favored the move as a way to reduce its sports spending, Montag said he saw no evidence of that.

"From our standpoint, we did not get the feeling that Fox letting John out of his contract had anything to do with cost cutting," he said.

Fox spokesman Lou D'Ermilio said, "The reason we let John out of his contract is because his representatives made it clear that John's desire was to move to 'Monday Night Football,' and we didn't want to stand in his way."

Published reports and industry sources said Fox offered Madden a three-year extension at the same $5 million a year that he ended up getting at ABC.

Montag said the move to ABC will be good for Madden's sponsors, which include Outback Steakhouse, Ace Hardware, Tinactin, EA Sports and Pepsi, because he now has a set schedule of which games he will cover.

BORAS PICKS UP PAIR: Baseball agent Scott Boras signed Chicago Cubs outfielder Corey Patterson and Luis Montanez, a shortstop who was the No. 3 overall pick by the Cubs in the 2000 draft.

"Both of these players are going to be key elements to the future of the Chicago Cubs," Boras said. "Corey Patterson is already in the big leagues at a very, very young age."

Patterson is 22.

SHEA LEAVES, THREE SIGN: Olympic skeleton gold-medalist Jim Shea Jr. is shopping for a new agent after he and agent Keith Kreiter, president of Edge Sports, mutually decided to part ways, said Jim Shea Sr., the athlete's father.

"We have the utmost admiration for Keith," Shea Sr. said. "It was just time for Jimmy to move on."

Kreiter said the breakup occurred shortly after Shea won the Olympic gold medal for the United States in the sport of skeleton. Shea received a lot of press during the Games for being the first third-generation U.S. Olympian and was a guest of President Bush at his State of the Union address.

"Jimmy and I had a great run," Kreiter said. "I wish him nothing but the best."

Among the deals Kreiter signed for Shea were pacts with Sprint, Kellogg and Kimberly Clark.

Kreiter and Edge Sports have signed three new clients for marketing services: former NBA player Cedric Ceballos, short-track speedskating bronze medalist Rusty Smith and Randy Jones, one of two African-American men ever to medal at the Winter Olympics. Jones and teammate Garrett Hines, who also is African-American, both won silver as part of the U.S. four-man bobsled team.

SO SO DEF LANDS FIVE: So So Def Sports signed five NFL draft prospects, including Ryan Sims, a defensive tackle from North Carolina who is expected to be a high pick.

The Atlanta sports agency, headed by NFL agent Hadley Engelhard, also signed University of Georgia linebacker Will Witherspoon, Western Kentucky safety Mel Mitchell, Middle Tennessee State wide receiver Kendall Newson and Tuskegee University cornerback Roosevelt Williams.

TRISTAR ADDS 11: TriStar Sports & Entertainment Group and NFL agent Rich De Luca signed seven 2002 NFL draft prospects and four NFL veteran players for representation.

The draft prospects are Miami cornerback Markese Fitzgerald, Wisconsin wide receiver Nick Davis, Arkansas defensive back Corey Harris, Southern Mississippi linebacker Roy Magee, Missouri running back Zain Gilmore, Middle Tennessee State quarterback Wes Counts and Rowan University wide receiver Scott Lipford.

NFL veterans who signed with the firm are Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Troy Edwards, Steelers kicker Joe O'Donnell, Houston Texans linebacker Shane Elam and Oakland Raiders wide receiver Kevin McKenzie.

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

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