SBJ/April 7 - 13, 2003/Labor Agents

Condon expects crowd of teams when freshly healed Leftwich works out

Marshall's Byron Leftwich, considered one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL draft, will participate in a private workout for all NFL teams today. Leftwich is then scheduled to visit the Cincinnati Bengals, who hold the top draft position.

All 32 teams have been invited to watch Leftwich's workout, said Tom Condon, IMG Football president and Leftwich's agent. Leftwich, who suffered a hairline fracture to his lower left leg last college football season, will meet with the Bengals on Tuesday.

"I don't think the Bengals bringing him there has a huge significance," Condon said. "I think his workout on Monday will have a huge significance."

Leftwich did not work out at the NFL combine in February because he was still recovering from the leg injury. Condon said Leftwich will run, jump and throw for the teams Monday.

"I would expect he gets a big turnout," Condon said. "I would be surprised if all the clubs weren't represented."

Leftwich is one of 14 players IMG has signed for representation in the NFL draft this year.

The others: Nebraska defensive end Chris Kelsay; Florida State defensive end Alonzo Jackson; Notre Dame cornerback Shane Walton; Hawaii offensive guard Vince Manuwai; Penn State defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy; Oklahoma cornerback Andre Woolfolk; Florida State wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Talman Gardner; Eastern Illinois quarterback Tony Romo; Virginia linebacker Angelo Crowell; Florida tight end Aaron Walker; Oklahoma State defensive tackle Kevin Williams; and Oregon running back Onterrio Smith.

IMG Co-CEO Bob Kain, in an interview with SportsBusiness Journal last week on the state of the company, cited the football division as one of the top-performing segments of the worldwide sports marketing firm. "We have a very good football draft, a great class," he said. "Hopefully, we will have one of the best drafts we have ever had."

In addition to the large draft class, IMG Football has had a robust free-agent season. Condon said IMG Football has negotiated $158 million worth of free-agent contracts in the last few weeks, of which $55 million was either signing bonuses or guaranteed money.

  IMG TOUTING ROOKIE PERKS: Octagon, which flies rookie football clients to the Super Bowl, is not the only company that advertises perks for NFL draft picks who sign with the company.

IMG's football division is offering rookies $11,500 worth of goodies, including a cell phone, Reebok athletic wear, a Lombardo Custom Apparel suit, Bolle sunglasses, Tivol jewelry and Headgear apparel and headgear. It's all part of the "IMG Football 2003 Rookie Client Marketing Package," listed in IMG's recruiting brochure.

The page out of the IMG Football brochure states that the player will receive the products in exchange for making appearances and/or giving the product exposure during media interviews and public appearances.

NFL Players Association regulations prohibit agents from offering inducements or anything of value to a player or his family to influence him to sign a representation agreement.

IMG Football's Condon said the items are not an inducement because the players agree to perform a service in order to get them.

  WARE SIGNS PROSPECTS: Terence Newman is one player the Bengals are interviewing before the draft, and the Kansas State cornerback is looking forward to the interview, said David Ware, his agent.

"Terence would love to go No. 1, sure," Ware said. "He should be one of the first five players picked, and Cincinnati has talked about taking him first overall."

Ware also represents Florida wide receiver Taylor Jacobs, Colorado running back Chris Brown and Iowa quarterback Brad Banks.

  W& C ADDS DOSS: The sports division of Washington, D.C., law firm Williams & Connolly has signed Ohio State safety Mike Doss for representation, marking a new foray into football for the firm, best known for its star NBA clients.

Lon Babby and Jim Tanner represent about 15 NBA players, including stars Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, Shane Battier and Andre Miller. Unlike most agents who charge players a percentage of the value of their contracts, Babby and Tanner bill player clients by the hour.

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

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