SBJ/Dec. 20-26, 2010/Labor & Agents

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  • NFLPA issues complaint against Keels over $200,000 loan

    The NFL Players Association has issued a disciplinary complaint against up-and-coming agent Alvin Keels alleging that he arranged for a $200,000 loan that he knew or should have known was paid for by an NFL player, in violation of the union’s agent regulations.

    An attorney for Keels says Keels borrowed money from a private equity firm, BluePrint LLC, and had no idea that the money came from an NFL player.

    “BluePrint represented to Alvin that it made loans to, among others, professional athletes, not that it used professional athletes’ money to make loans,” said Keels’ attorney, David Cornwell. “Alvin did not know and had no reason to know that BluePrint used an NFL player’s money to fund its loan to his company, Global Management Group.”

    Philadelphia-based BluePrint is owned by Rudy Thomas, who represents some NBA and NFL clients as their business manager, including Minnesota Vikings safety Madieu Williams. Keels is alleged to have borrowed the $200,000 from Williams, who is not a client of Keels. NFLPA regulations prohibit agents from borrowing money from NFL players, regardless of whether the players are their clients.

    Thomas, reached by phone last week, said, “The situation is between Madieu Williams and Alvin Keels. … I wasn’t really involved. I don’t have a business relationship with Alvin.” He added that Williams was still a client of his.

    Attempts to reach Williams for comment were unsuccessful, but Williams’ attorney, Eden Brown Gaines, said Williams is no longer working with Thomas and is pursuing a lawsuit against him.

    As to Thomas’ statement that he did not have a business relationship with Keels, SportsBusiness Journal obtained a promissory note between Keels and BluePrint, which Thomas signed.

    Williams filed suit against BluePrint in October in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment, among other things, concerning the $200,000 loan. Keels is not named in the lawsuit, but a Nov. 2, 2009, e-mail from Thomas to Williams attached to the lawsuit says, “You are due a note repayment today. I will talk to Alvin Keels and get back to you shortly.”

    Thomas said the lawsuit was “just a formality” and had been “thrown out,” but that was not reflected in the court record online last week, and Thomas did not provide court documents to support that contention.

    Gaines said, “Mr. Williams is not a client of BluePrint. The lawsuit is still active. Mr. Williams did not loan money to Mr. Keels.”

    U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer recently issued an order for BluePrint to show cause by Jan. 4 as to why a default judgment of more than $252,000 should not be entered against the company, after no one appeared on BluePrint’s behalf to answer or defend against the lawsuit.

    A source said the NFLPA complaint against Keels alleges that he knew the money was coming from a player. Cornwell says he did not know.

    “It strains logic and fairness for the NFLPA to discipline Alvin, especially since the NFLPA, and not Alvin, has the duty to police financial managers for NFL players,” Cornwell said.

    Under union rules, Keels can answer the complaint. The NFLPA’s Committee on Agent Regulation and Discipline then decides whether to discipline Keels, who would have an opportunity to appeal any punishment to an arbitrator.

    BRANDON FLOWERS LEAVING OCTAGON: Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers has terminated Octagon as his agency, but as of early last week had not hired another agent.

    “Brandon did inform me via text that he is going another direction. We wish Brandon and his family the best of luck in the future,” said Andy Ross, Flowers’ former agent at Octagon.

    PAEA SIGNS WITH ATHLETES FIRST: Former Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea, a projected first- or second-round 2011 draft pick, has signed with David Dunn and his firm, Athletes First, sources said.

    Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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