SBJ/April 11-17, 2011/Labor and Agents

NFL memo lays out punishments for unauthorized contact

Liz Mullen
NFL clubs and their top executives who violate the NFL’s lockout rules by talking to NFL players or their agents can be subject to discipline, including the executives getting fired or the club losing a draft pick, according to a league memo obtained by SportsBusiness Journal.

“Please be advised that violations of these rules will subject you and your Club to discipline, including, but not limited to, fines, suspensions, loss of draft picks and/or termination for cause,” states the memo, penned by Dennis Curran, the NFL’s senior vice president of labor litigation and policy. The memo was sent to all NFL club head coaches, general managers, presidents and CEOs on March 14, the Monday after the Saturday that the NFL locked out the players.

The rules prohibit speaking to any agents or players about football or business-related issues, including contact by telephone, email, text message, Facebook, Twitter or instant messaging, according to the memo.

NFL club executives have, however, been talking to agents who represent NFL draft-eligible players since the lockout began March 12. Asked about that, Greg Aiello, NFL senior vice president of communications, responded in an email, “The draft is part of the 2006 CBA,” referring to the fact that although the collective-bargaining agreement expired in March, before this month’s draft, it provides that a draft can be held. Aiello declined to respond to further questions about Curran’s memo.

Since the lockout began, NFL general managers are required to keep a “call log” of any contact with agents. Curran, in his memo, wrote, “You must maintain a call log of any calls from Players or agents and whether the call was answered. The call log must be made available to NFL Security upon request.”

Curran suggested, in the memo, that NFL club executives have an assistant answer or screen their calls.
The memo also prohibits NFL club staff from making any public comments about either the CBA negotiations or the rules in place during the lockout.

“You can expect that other Clubs and the media, as well as NFL Security, will be vigilant in monitoring your communications and activities to ensure compliance with these rules,” Curran wrote.

In addition, Curran noted in the memo that a number of prominent NFL player agents have made declarations in support of the players’ motion in the Brady v. NFL case for a judge to issue an injunction ending the lockout. The memo states that agents “may attempt to bolster their position through conversations with you.”

NFL player agents Joby Branion, Tom Condon, Neil Cornrich, Vann McElroy, Neil Schwartz and Don Yee all submitted declarations in support of the players’ motion for a preliminary injunction to end the lockout — which is the motion that was heard in a St. Paul courtroom last week.

CAA SIGNS TOM WATSON: CAA Sports has signed legendary golfer Tom Watson for representation and to develop opportunities for him across a variety of platforms, including licensing, endorsements, speaking appearances, television and business development. Watson has won eight major championships, including five British Opens, and holds 39 PGA Tour victories. Watson will be represented by a team of agents led by Andy Pierce and Mike Rielly.

OCTAGON BASEBALL SIGNS PLAYERS: Octagon’s baseball practice has signed a number of players, including Detroit Tigers second baseman Carlos Guillen. Octagon also signed Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Travis Schlichting, Oakland A’s infielder Adam Rosales and Seattle Mariners pitcher David Pauley.

Octagon agent Wil Polidor will represent Guillen, agent Lou Nero will represent Schlichting, agent Steve Hilliard will represent Rosales, and agent Fred Wray will represent Pauley.
 
Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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