SBJ/20110103/Labor & Agents

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  • Harrison and Dunn among retired pros taking to the Maxx

    Maxx Sports Entertainment, a firm specializing in representing athletes in marketing and broadcast work, especially after their playing careers are over, has built its client base by signing a number of retired pros in the last year.

    Former NFL stars Rodney Harrison and Warrick Dunn, as well as former NHL star Jeremy Roenick, have recently signed on as clients, said Mark Lepselter, CEO of New York-based Maxx.

    Lepselter has represented athletes for off-the-field and post-career opportunities for 15 years, and may be best known as former NFL player Tiki Barber's agent. "We feel we have a very diversified platform at Maxx and we are thankful that retired talent is giving us the opportunity to help them in the next stages of their careers," Lepselter said.

    Additionally, Maxx signed former MLB pitcher Brian Anderson, former NBA player Eric Snow and former NFL player Torry Holt.

    Lepselter recently negotiated an extension for Harrison to serve as a studio analyst on NBC's "Football Night in America" as well as a deal for Holt to serve as a studio analyst for the NFL Network.

    NFLPA OFFERS UPDATE ON CBA TALKS: NFLPA Executive Committee members Brian Dawkins and Mike Vrabel held a conference call with reporters last week in which they dispelled talk in the industry that the NFL and union were making progress on the league's proposal to expand the season from 16 to 18 regular-season games.

    "I think the safety of the players should be the No. 1 thing," Dawkins said. "Adding two more games to a season that is already as physical as it can be … careers are short. … I just don't see it happening."

    Vrabel said the owners' proposal that players give back an additional 18 percent off the top of revenue that makes up the salary cap when the owners are not losing money and won't open their books remains a key issue.

    "If this deal doesn't work for them and this last CBA is so bad for them … we need to know [why]," Vrabel said.

    ATHLETES FIRST SIGNS KERRIGAN: Athletes First has signed Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan for representation in the NFL draft. Website NFLDraftScout.com projected Kerrigan as a first-rounder last week.

    AUSTIN CHOOSES MAXIMUM: Maximum Sports Management has signed former University of North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin for representation in the draft. Maximum principal Roosevelt Barnes will be Austin's primary agent.

    Austin was at the center of the agent scandal at North Carolina in which more than a dozen players were suspended for at least a portion of the college football season. Austin was seen as a first-round draft selection before this season but never played a down; he was suspended and then dismissed from the program in October for violating NCAA rules regarding receiving improper benefits.

    Although a number of agents' names have surfaced in industry circles in relation to the UNC NCAA scandal, Barnes' name and the names of other Maximum agents have not been among them. Austin was projected as a second-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com.

    SMITH TO ALL PRO: All Pro Sports & Entertainment has signed Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith for representation in the draft. All Pro principal Peter Schaffer will represent Smith, who was ranked as the No. 2 cornerback and the No. 12 overall senior on NFLDraftScout.com last week.

    PLAYERSREP WILL REP PATRICK: PlayersRep has signed former Louisville cornerback Johnny Patrick for representation in the draft. Agents Nate Haber and Andy Simms will represent Patrick, who is ranked the No. 4 overall corner and projected as a second-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com.

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

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  • Elliott joins team at Crown Sports

    Jeremy Elliott has joined player representation agency Crown Sports Management as vice president of player relations.

    The former Career Sports executive will work with many of Crown's top golf clients, who include Davis Love III, Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover and Boo Weekley, among others.

    Elliott spent the last six years building Career Sports' golf division in Atlanta. He brought in players such as Matt Kuchar, Ryuji Imada and Parker McLachlin to establish the agency in golf before leaving late in 2010.

    Elliott, a former golfer at the University of North Carolina, joins a Crown Sports team led by CEO Mac Barnhardt and president Jimmy Johnston.

    Crown's stable of golfers has won two majors in the last two years — Glover won the U.S. Open and Cink won the British Open, both in 2009.

    Crown is based in Sea Island, Ga., and Elliott will work from Chapel Hill, N.C.

    — Michael Smith

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  • Bramlett signing may draw Team Services futher into golf

    Fred Fried will represent Joseph Bramlett, the first golfer of African-American heritage to graduate from the PGA Tour's qualifying school in 25 years.

    Bramlett's potential impact on golf, as the only PGA Tour member of black descent other than Tiger Woods, is clear. But he might be making an impact on Fried's agency, Team Services LLC, as well.

    Fried, the former ProServ and SFX executive, co-founded Team Services in 2002 and the firm primarily has been known for selling naming rights to buildings like the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, 3Com Park in San Francisco and the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland, Fried's alma mater.

    One thing Team Services has not done until now is represent athletes, although it's something with which Fried has extensive experience from his previous stops. Over the years, Fried has directed the marketing activities of Michael Jordan, Steve Young, Boomer Esiason and Dan Jansen, among others.


    GETTY IMAGES

    Joseph Bramlett has drawn comparisons to
    Tiger Woods on several levels.

    Now Bramlett is the first athlete client at Team Services and Fried is not discounting the possibility of more work in the golf space.

    "We would consider expanding in golf," said Fried, who co-founded Team Services with his partner, E.J. Narcise. "It'll be interesting to see how this goes. If you're doing things the right way, a natural question for companies to ask is whether or not you have other golf clients. … We're not a player rep business. In fact, we made a conscious decision not to be a player rep business, but this time we made an exception."

    For now, Fried's complete attention is on Bramlett, 22, a long-hitting 6-foot-4 graduate of Stanford. Fried signed Bramlett without any competition from traditional player rep agencies.

    A mutual friend introduced Fried to Bramlett's father, Marlo, two years ago and they struck up a relationship that led to talks about representation. The Bramletts never interviewed other agents.

    "We found similar value points and connections on several fronts," Fried said. "Joseph has some unique opportunities in front of him."

    Bramlett already is drawing comparisons to Woods. Both went to Stanford, come from racially mixed families and wear the Nike swoosh, but Fried is quick to point out that Bramlett and Woods traveled significantly different paths to the tour.

    Woods left Stanford after two years, won on tour during his first season and never had to go to qualifying school. Part of Bramlett's charm is that he overcame a serious wrist injury in college, and doggedly advanced through all three stages of Q school to earn his tour card.

    Bramlett played Nike equipment and wore its apparel as part of the school's all-sports deal with the brand, and that association will likely continue into Bramlett's professional career. Fried is deep into talks to have Nike on Bramlett's bag, joining other Nike golfers like Woods, Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover, Justin Leonard, Paul Casey and Anthony Kim.

    Fried envisions two or three more sponsors — endemic and non-endemic — coming on board in 2011 during Bramlett's rookie season.

    "There will probably be fewer corporate relationships in the first few years than what Tiger had," Fried said. "Tiger came out, won twice and was exempt, and then won the Masters. He's a totally different case than a guy who is thinking about top 125 on the money list."

    Fried also will seek relationships that will help Bramlett promote the game to the African-American audience.

    "There is an underlying importance culturally to him succeeding," Fried said.

    Bramlett will be featured in NBC's coming golf show "Ticket to the Tour," which looks at newcomers on the PGA Tour. While the PGA Tour will be promoting its young stars in 2011, Bramlett is not expected to be among them, said a tour spokesman, because he has not yet hit a shot as a tour member.

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