SBJ/April 15 - 21, 2002/Labor Agents

Octagon leads list of prospects for draft with, fittingly, 8 players

Octagon, a company that grew its football practice through two major acquisitions in the last two years, leads all sports agencies in representing the top 100 NFL draft-eligible players, according to a list released by the NFL Players Association.

The list of the 100 top players, as ranked by Pro Football Weekly, and their agents, as registered with the NFLPA, shows Octagon with eight prospects. Octagon agent Mike Sullivan, whose agency Sullivan & Sperbeck was acquired by the company in December 2000, represents three. They include expected No. 1 pick David Carr of Fresno State.

David Carr is part of Octagon's haul.

Ray Anderson, whose company was acquired by Octagon in November, also represents three, including highly rated Northwestern linebacker Napoleon Harris. Doug Hendrickson, an agent Sullivan hired last year, represents two players on the list.

There is a four-way tie for second among IMG, LMM Sports, Athletes First and independent agent David Ware, each with six players on the list of 100.

IMG, which has repped 17 first-rounders in the last four years and a record six first-round picks last year, counts safety Roy Williams from Oklahoma and running back William Green from Boston College among its clients.

LMM Sports, an Arizona-based agency owned by Ethan Lock, Eric Metz and Vance Malinovic, had a breakout signing period this year with six players, including big offensive guards Toniu Fonoti from Nebraska and Kendall Simmons from Auburn.

Athletes First, the agency started by David Dunn after he left former partner Leigh Steinberg, also had a big year in its first year of business. Athletes First signed projected top-10 picks Mike Williams, an offensive tackle out of Texas, and Oregon's Joey Harrington, who is expected to be the second quarterback selected.

David Ware, an Atlanta-based lawyer who has co-represented Barry Sanders in the past, appears to have the biggest year for an agent not affiliated with a larger agency. Ware signed six players, including expected first-rounder Phillip Buchanon, a cornerback from the University of Miami.

Both Ware and Jacksonville Jaguars executive-turned-agent Michael Huyghue claimed for weeks to have signed Buchanon, and both men sent paperwork to the NFLPA listing the player as a client.

The argument was finally resolved last week when the NFLPA received a letter from Buchanon officially terminating Huyghue. Huyghue did not return a call for comment.

New York-based Sportstars represents five players on the list of 100, and agent Pat Dye Jr. has four.


CINDRICH EXPANDING: Cindrich & Co., an agency headed by veteran NFL agent Ralph Cindrich, has started a basketball division and is in talks with agents about going into the baseball business.

Pittsburgh-based Cindrich has hired basketball agent Steve Haney, who brought about 15 players with him, Cindrich said. The company now represents 20 to 30 basketball players, many of them European players and former NBA players.

The company is recruiting some college players expected to be selected in the June NBA draft, Cindrich said.

Cindrich said he also is in talks with baseball agents about hiring them to form a baseball practice. The company represents about 50 NFL players.


EX-PLAYER EYES ROUND 1: Former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tim McGee, who became an agent four years ago and retired from football three years ago, may have reached a milestone in his new career.

McGee, owner of Complete Sports Management, represents John Henderson, a defensive tackle from Tennessee, who is a projected first-round pick.

"He is my first first-rounder, for sure," said McGee, who was a player rep for the Bengals.

McGee started as an agent by doing some of his own deals. He was in business with his former contract agent, Steve Zucker, but is now on his own.

He represents 11 NFL players.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@amcity.com.

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