SBJ/20090928/Labor & Agents

Ornstein: Marketing cash keeps pressure off holdout Crabtree

Marketing agent Mike Ornstein says he has made NFL receiver Michael Crabtree enough money in endorsement deals that the still-unsigned first-round draft pick won’t be pressured to play football for a while.

“He has made over 750 grand in marketing dollars,” Ornstein said.

Crabtree was selected No. 10 overall by the San Francisco 49ers but has not come to terms with the team on a new contract.

“It is not that he doesn’t want to play, but he is not under the gun to,” Ornstein said.

Crabtree has been more active in ads than
on the field.

Ornstein signed Crabtree last spring with independent agent Peter Miller for marketing work, and has signed deals with Subway, Jordan Brand and trading card companies Upper Deck, Topps and Panini America.

NFL agent Eugene Parker represents Crabtree for playing contract work. Ornstein said he and Miller are not involved in what have been described as contentious contract talks with the 49ers.

Ornstein may be best known as the former marketing agent to Reggie Bush. He negotiated several deals for Bush as a rookie, including Subway, Hummer, PepsiCo, Adidas and Visa, before Bush fired him in 2007.

Ornstein told SportsBusiness Journal last spring, “Michael Crabtree is the Reggie Bush of this draft.”

Still, Ornstein allowed, he could have done more deals for Crabtree if he had already signed with the 49ers. “We are not able to do much marketing for him right now because he is not playing,” he said.

 ORNSTEIN CO-REPPING T.O.: Ornstein also confirmed last week that he has been co-representing Buffalo Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens for marketing work with Robert Bailey, who works with Drew Rosenhaus on off-the-field work for Rosenhaus Sports clients.

“We have been working for him for about eight months,” Ornstein said.

Owens has signed a deal with Pure Power Mouthguard and is close to announcing an agreement with a new energy drink, Ornstein said.

Of the energy drink deal, Ornstein said, “That is a pretty big deal. He is going to do commercials and be a huge endorser.” Ornstein would not reveal the name of the drink but indicated it was a new company, adding, “It’s a six-figure guarantee with lots of stock options.”

Owens does not have a shoe deal, although he wears Jordan Brand. Ornstein, who previously worked as a marketing executive for Reebok, said he will turn his attention next on trying to negotiate a shoe deal for Owens.

“Shoe money is so frigging tough to get right now,” Ornstein said. “Never seen a year like this, and there will never be another year like this.”

Ornstein said that Owens hired him to help him rebrand himself in Buffalo after he was cut by the Dallas Cowboys. As part of that effort, Ornstein has involved him in a charitable effort named 81 Tackles Hunger, to feed hungry people in western New York.

Ornstein was not involved in creating Owens’ reality show on VH1, “The T.O. Show,” but said he plans to capitalize on it. “Say whatever you want about T.O., but he is an exciting guy who attracts attention,” Ornstein said.

 NHLPA ON CALL: The NHL Players’ Association will hold two conference calls soon, and it is expected that players will discuss the selection of a new executive director, as well as why the former one, Paul Kelly, was fired.

The executive board of the NHLPA, the governing body of the union, made up of player reps from each of the 30 NHL clubs, was expected to hold a call today and another on Sunday. Under the union’s constitution, any NHL player may participate in any executive board meeting.

Meanwhile, CAA Sports agents Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry released a statement expressing concerns about the way in which Kelly was fired. Brisson client Sidney Crosby also released a statement, saying players “all deserve a good explanation.”

About 3 a.m. Aug. 31, 22 of 27 player reps voted to fire Kelly after hearing two presentations critical of his leadership.

Brisson, in an interview, said he is recommending that his players ask questions of their player reps about what happened leading up to Kelly’s dismissal. CAA represents about 65 NHL players.

“We had about 90 percent of our clients asking, ‘Why? What happened?’” Brisson said. “I think the question most of them are asking is, ‘Why did this have to happen in the middle of the night on Aug. 31?’”

Meanwhile, sources said that Detroit Red Wings player rep Chris Chelios asked player reps to take more time before voting to fire Kelly. However, press reports that Chelios was leading an effort to reinstate Kelly were false. Chelios declined to comment.

 CAA SIGNS DAHL: CAA Sports has signed Atlanta Falcons guard Harvey Dahl for representation. Tom Condon and Ben Dogra will represent Dahl. Dahl was represented by James Grogan.

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

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