SBJ/20080818/SBJ In-Depth

The 20 Most Influential Sports Agents

 
TOM CONDON
CO-HEAD, FOOTBALL,
CAA SPORTS
Long regarded as the most powerful agent in the NFL for his blue-chip quarterback clients and record-breaking contracts, Condon, by merging his practice with up-and-comer Ben Dogra (No. 6), has created one of the largest and most star-studded athlete representation practices in modern sports history. CAA Football represents 130 NFL players, and Condon has personally represented six No. 1 overall draft picks since 1998. Condon was NFL Players Association president as a player, now represents NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw, and has deep contacts throughout the NFL.
 
ARN TELLEM
PRESIDENT,
WMG MANAGEMENT
Tellem led a team of agents that represented seven of the first 15 players selected in this year’s NBA draft, including No. 1 overall pick Derrick Rose. He is one of a handful of agents who have been able to build a successful practice in two sports. Clients include Tracy McGrady, Ben Wallace and Pau Gasol in the NBA, and Chase Utley, Mike Mussina and Hideki Matsui in MLB. In his leadership role at WMG, Tellem is looking to expand a global business that represents the best athletes around the world, including golfers, soccer players and action sports athletes.
 
SCOTT BORAS
PRESIDENT,
SCOTT BORAS CORP.
Boras’ reputation as a superagent took a hit last year when Wall Street deal-makers, including legendary investor Warren Buffett, reportedly interceded in the contract negotiations for client Alex Rodriguez. But he is far and away the most powerful agent in baseball and the most successful independent agent based on the value of contracts negotiated. Boras has made it clear he will continue to be a major force by leading the amateur draft with five first-round picks this year. Major league clients include J.D. Drew, Joe Crede, Manny Ramirez, Jason Varitek, Matt Holliday and Mark Teixeira.
 
DREW ROSENHAUS
PRESIDENT,
ROSENHAUS SPORTS
Rosenhaus may be the sports agent most familiar to the general public after representing several star NFL players unhappy with their contracts (Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson and Javon Walker to name a few). There is no doubt he is a top agent, with a client list of 110 active NFL players, including Kellen Winslow Jr., Jeremy Shockey, Willis McGahee, Marion Barber, Bernard Berrian, Frank Gore, Clinton Portis, Santana Moss and Edgerrin James. As of mid-2008, Rosenhaus and his brother and partner, Jason Rosenhaus, had negotiated 52 contracts (including extensions) valued at $588 million.
 
PHIL DE PICCIOTTO
PRESIDENT, ATHLETES & PERSONALITIES, OCTAGON
As head of one of the largest multisport athlete management firms in the world, de Picciotto oversees 35 agents who represent more than 500 athletes in the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, Olympics, golf, tennis and action sports. While other, newer agencies, such as Wasserman Media Group and CAA Sports, have grown through a rapid-fire series of acquisitions, Octagon has focused on slow, but steady growth. In the last year de Picciotto has expanded the company’s soccer division and focused on building a major coaches practice.
 
BEN DOGRA
CO-HEAD, FOOTBALL,
CAA SPORTS
Dogra has proved to be the top recruiter of talent in arguably the most competitive market in sports. For the last five years, Dogra has either led all agents or tied for the title of representing the most players selected in the NFL draft’s first round. Personal clients include 2006 No. 1 pick Mario Williams and last year’s NFL offensive and defensive rookies of the year, Adrian Peterson and Patrick Willis. Rarely quoted in the press, soft-spoken and thoughtful, Dogra is in many ways the atypical sports agent.
 
MARK STEINBERG
GLOBAL MANAGING DIRECTOR,
IMG GOLF
Steinberg is best known as agent to Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam, but he also leads IMG Golf, the most powerful global golf practice. IMG represents more than 66 golfers on the PGA and LPGA tours including Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Anthony Kim, Colin Montgomerie, Camilo Villegas, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Natalie Gulbis, Yani Tseng and Se Ri Pak. As Woods’ personal agent, Steinberg has negotiated some of the most lucrative endorsements in sports, including Gatorade’s first licensing deal, for Gatorade Tiger products.
 
MARK BARTELSTEIN
CEO, PRIORITY SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Bartelstein heads up one of the most successful independently owned agencies, boasting standout client lists in both the NBA and the NFL. The firm represents 84 NFL players and 43 NBA players. Priority was built organically and has a good reputation in the industry. Bartelstein owns the firm with partners and NFL agents Mike McCartney, Deryk Gilmore, Rick Smith and Kenny Zuckerman, and partners and NBA agents Brad Ames, Reggie Brown and Aaron Mintz.
 
PETER CARLISLE
MANAGING DIRECTOR, OLYMPICS & ACTION SPORTS,
OCTAGON
Carlisle leads the most powerful Olympic athlete representation business in the country with icon swimmer Michael Phelps and rising stars Katie Hoff, Ryan Lochte and Allyson Felix. Carlisle started in the business as an agent representing snowboarders, and his clients reaped the benefits of national endorsements when snowboarding received mainstream attention after the 2002 Winter Olympics. He has been innovative in creating revenue-generating opportunities for his clients such as SwimRoom.com, the first social-networking site in swimming, and Disney’s Swim With the Stars swimming tour.
 
SANDY MONTAG
SENIOR CORPORATE VP,
IMG
Montag started at IMG in 1985 as an assistant to broadcast client John Madden. Today Montag oversees operations for all non-golf and non-tennis clients of IMG, including athletes, coaches, speakers, personalities and broadcasters. Under Montag’s supervision, IMG has expanded its broadcast division to more than 100 clients, including some of the best-known sportscasters. His personal clients include Bob Costas and, of course, Madden. He negotiated one of the largest sports endorsement deals, the Electronic Arts Madden video game, which is said to have generated more than $100 million in royalties for Madden.
 
SETH LEVINSON
PRESIDENT,
ACES INC.
Levinson and younger brother Sam run one of the most successful independently owned baseball agencies, with more than 50 MLB clients. Although they don’t get a lot of press, the Levinsons are known inside the industry for intense and thorough preparation for contract negotiations with clubs on behalf of their clients. Among the notable contracts the Levinsons have negotiated in the last two years is the six-year, $55 million contract for David Wright, which was a record for a player with less than two years of major league service when it was negotiated two years ago.
 
PAT BRISSON
CO-HEAD, HOCKEY,
CAA SPORTS
Brisson’s unit, which he leads with agent J.P. Barry, represents 65 NHL players including exciting young players such as Sidney Crosby and 2008 Rookie of the Year Patrick Kane. Brisson represented the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005, 2006 and 2007 drafts and has a good shot of doing it again next time after signing 17-year-old phenom John Tavares. Brisson negotiated some of hockey’s most lucrative endorsement deals for Crosby, including a Reebok agreement and a deal with Gatorade that made Crosby the first NHL player to appear in a national U.S. commercial since Wayne Gretzky.
 
DONNIE MEEHAN
PRESIDENT, FOUNDER, NEWPORT SPORTS MANAGEMENT
Meehan, who started representing hockey players nearly 30 years ago, has dominated the NHL agent business for years. His Ontario-based firm represents more than 110 NHL players, including Nicklas Lidstrom, Jarome Iginla, Chris Pronger, Wade Redden, Henrik Lundqvist and Dion Phaneuf. This year, Meehan’s Newport Sports represented nine first-round draft selections, including five of the first six players taken. He also represented No. 1 overall pick Steven Stamkos. Meehan did, however, suffer a loss in the last two years, when superstar Alex Ovechkin fired him in late 2006.
 
JOEL SEGAL
PRESIDENT,
BEST FOOTBALL
Segal is the only NFL agent to have a top-five pick in each of the last three drafts (Reggie Bush, No. 2 in 2006; Levi Brown, No. 5 in 2007; and Glenn Dorsey, No. 5 in 2008). Segal, who represents about 50 players, also negotiated more than $250 million in the offseason this year, including a $70 million, five-year extension for Will Smith and a $70 million, seven-year deal for DeAngelo Hall. Fallen superstar Michael Vick is a client, too, and his scheduled release from prison in the coming year, and potential return to the NFL, will keep Segal in the news.
 
CASEY CLOSE
HEAD OF BASEBALL,
CAA SPORTS
Close, best known as agent to Derek Jeter, oversees CAA’s baseball division with more than 70 major league clients, including young stars Ryan Braun, the 2007 National League Rookie of the Year, and Ryan Howard, the 2006 National League MVP. The agency is thought to have represented the most all-stars this year with eight. Close oversees 20 employees, including agents Jeff Berry, Nez Balelo, Greg Landry, Joe Urbon and Brodie Van Wagenen. This past winter CAA won a $10 million arbitration award for Howard, the highest award for a player in MLB history.
 
BILL DUFFY
PRESIDENT,
BDA SPORTS
Duffy’s reputation as one of the top agents in the United States was damaged this year when ESPN reported that his agency gave a runner more than $200,000 in cash and gifts to secure highly ranked NBA prospect O.J. Mayo as a client. Duffy has denied the allegations, but it is unclear how the story may affect his future. That said, BDA represents more than 35 NBA players, including Yao Ming, Steve Nash, Tayshaun Prince, Greg Oden, Rajon Rondo and Carmelo Anthony. The firm also represents 50 basketball players overseas and has a budding WNBA division that counts Candice Wiggins and Diana Taurasi as clients.
 
JILL SMOLLER
SPORTS HEAD,
THE WILLIAM MORRIS AGENCY
Smoller oversees the sports division at Hollywood talent firm William Morris, which focuses on signing a few athletes with crossover appeal. Unlike rival Hollywood firm CAA, WMA focuses solely on off-the-field work and operates in conjunction with the athlete’s playing contract agent. WMA has in the last two years signed several top athletes for marketing, including Alex Rodriguez, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett, Yi Jianlian, Vince Young, Lisa Leslie and Andrew Bynum. WMA is perfectly poised to take advantage of the trend of athletes looking to keep their existing playing contract agent, but diversify their representation.
 
EUGENE PARKER
PRESIDENT,
MAXIMUM SPORTS MANAGEMENT
Long considered a top NFL agent, Eugene Parker enjoyed a resurgence in the last two years, representing five first-round picks this year, including No. 7 Sedrick Ellis and No. 22 Felix Jones, as well as picking up top veteran players, including Pro Bowler Jason Peters and St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson. Parker and his longtime partner, agent Roosevelt Barnes, have a reputation of doing high-quality contracts. Other clients include Devin Hester, Richard Seymour, Larry Fitzgerald, Walter Jones, Derrick Brooks, Laveranues Coles and Rex Grossman.
 
DANNY LOZANO
PARTNER, BEVERLY HILLS SPORTS COUNCIL
Lozano, with partners Jeff Borris, Rick Thurman and Dan Horwits, owns Beverly Hills Sports Council, which has more than 70 major league clients, including seven selections to this year’s All-Star Game. Lozano’s personal clients include 2007 National League MVP Jimmy Rollins, 2005 NL MVP Albert Pujols, four-time AL all-star shortstop Michael Young and 2007 AL Golden Glove winner Orlando Cabrera. Last year, Lozano negotiated a six-year, $85 million deal for Young with the Texas Rangers.
 
MAVERICK CARTER
CEO, LRMR Innovative Marketing & Branding
Carter co-founded LRMR with NBA superstar LeBron James, a lifelong friend. Carter, 26, oversees James’ relationships with sponsors Nike, Upper Deck and Coca-Cola and has in recent years negotiated James’ deals with Cub Cadet, State Farm and Microsoft. LRMR focuses on representing athletes in marketing, as more athletes seek to separate their on-the-field and off-the-field representation. LRMR recently signed No. 3 NBA pick O.J. Mayo, who is represented by CAA basketball agent Leon Rose for playing contract work. Other clients include Miami Dolphin Ted Ginn Jr.
 
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