SBJ/December 9 - 15, 2002/Labor Agents

Octagon's snowboard signee has great things ahead — like teen years

Octagon has signed a 12-year-old snowboarding phenom who already has an endorsement deal with Mountain Dew and is in talks with two other major companies about deals, agent Peter Carlisle said.

Luke Mitrani made it into the qualifying rounds of the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships in March, when he was only 11, Carlisle said. Mitrani has been invited to join the U.S. snowboard team, and Carlisle thinks he is the youngest ever to get that honor.

Luke Mitrani, who already has a deal with Mountain Dew, is getting interest from others, says his agent, Peter Carlisle.

As part of his deal with Mountain Dew, Mitrani will wear the beverage's logo on his helmet. Carlisle said there are two other "significant, mainstream deals" in the works, and one may be completed in the next month.

Carlisle said he initially had reservations about signing a client so young, but he did so at the urging of Mitrani's father, Al. "His father called me and said a lot of companies are calling and a lot of agents are calling and we want to speak to you about it," Carlisle said.

Carlisle said Mitrani's marketing potential may be at least as big as his other clients, who include men's 2002 Olympics halfpipe gold medalist Ross Powers; Kelly Clark, who won the gold medal for women's halfpipe; and Chris Klug, a bronze medalist.

"As more and more companies come into this [alternative sports] space, they want the next best thing," Carlisle said. "If they can get the next up-and-comer, that is what they want."

  NFLPA FILES COMPLAINT: The NFL Players Association disciplinary committee has filed a complaint against agent Steven Weinberg for subjecting his NFL player clients to legal garnishment claims by a former business partner.

NFL agent Howard Silber has been trying to collect a judgment of more than $200,000 against Weinberg, his former partner, by garnisheeing fees that NFL players owe Weinberg. Some players have been served with legal papers as their teams have arrived at Dallas hotels to play the Cowboys.

U.S. District Court in Dallas awarded Silber a judgment of $213,048 plus interest in February. Weinberg represents about 35 NFL players, including Washington Redskins running back Stephen Davis.

Weinberg has about 30 days to respond to the NFLPA disciplinary committee's complaint, which was issued in late November. Penalties, if assessed, could range from a letter of reprimand to decertification, said Richard Berthelsen, NFLPA general counsel.

Weinberg and his attorney did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Berthelsen said there were legal actions filed against at least four players. "They have had to obtain legal counsel and deal with the [situation] because Weinberg is not paying a debt which a federal court in Texas says he owes," said Berthelsen.

The players union was forced to undertake the expense of hiring a Dallas lawyer, who has worked out an arrangement so NFL players are no longer being served with legal papers when they are trying to prepare for a game, Berthelsen said.

"The real expense is the impact on the players," Berthelsen said. "There is no reason for them to be harassed. The players' interests are in conflict with the agent's interest not to pay any money to Silber. But the players are being used as pawns in the process."

Silber said he regrets having to serve Weinberg's players with garnishment demands. Berthelsen "is 100 percent right," said Silber. "The players are innocent in this."

Silber said he and his lawyers had no way to gain access to Weinberg's assets and were forced to try to recover the judgment by going after the fees players owed Weinberg.

DYE HIRES MARKETING DIRECTOR: Veteran football agent Pat Dye Jr. hired Michael Perrett to head up marketing work for his Atlanta-based ProFiles Sports Management Inc., which represents 32 NFL players.

Perrett will work on getting shoe, apparel and other endorsement contracts for Dye's clients, who include Marcus Stroud, Garrison Hearst, Keith Brooking, Dexter Coakley and Charles Grant. Perrett formerly did marketing work at IMG Football.

Bill Johnson formerly handled marketing duties for ProFiles but has been spending more time on recruiting and contract issues since becoming a certified contract adviser a few years ago.

"We want someone who will spend 110 percent of their time on marketing," Dye said.

  SPEAKERS BUREAU OPENS: Former RLR Associates agent Greg Friedlander has started a company called All American Speakers that matches athletes with companies and groups seeking public speakers for events.

Freidlander's company has launched a Web site at allamericanspeakers.com and has so far snagged two clients: Starbucks and a Georgia hospital that wants a cancer survivor to speak at a fund-raiser.

"I will be working with agents and I will be bringing business for their clients," said Friedlander, who represented sports broadcasters at RLR.

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

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