SBJ/August 29-September 4, 2011/Labor and Agents

‘Madden NFL 12’ cover star Hillis makes another agent change

Liz Mullen
Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis made headlines in the spring when NFL fans voted him over better-known stars Michael Vick, Adrian Peterson and Aaron Rodgers to be the cover athlete on EA Sports’ “Madden NFL 12.”

Now, the subject of who represents Hillis — and whether that agent will be able to get him a long-term deal worthy of his recent on-field performance — has become a much-discussed contest. Hillis, a late seventh-round pick in the 2008 draft, is scheduled to make $600,000 this year, sources said.

Hillis was voted by fans to be the “Madden” cover athlete after rushing for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns and catching 61 passes for 477 yards and two more TDs in 2010. The totals made him a star among fantasy football players and, among agents, fueled talk of a need for a pay increase.

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Peyton Hillis’ numbers last year have fueled talk that he will look for a pay raise.
“Take the ‘Madden’ cover out of it,” said one prominent NFL agent. “I don’t care if he’s on the ‘Madden’ cover or president of the United States: For his production last year alone, there needs to be an adjustment; a significant adjustment.”

Hillis originally was represented by veteran agent Jimmy Sexton, but he fired him sometime after this year’s draft and “Madden” announcement and hired Kelli Masters, who was registered to represent NFL players starting in 2005. She co-represents Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy with CAA Football co-head Ben Dogra.

Around the time training camp started, Hillis fired Masters and hired Kennard McGuire, sources said. McGuire and Masters did not return phone calls for comment. Masters did tell SportsAgentBlog.com that she no longer was representing Hillis.

Multiple sources said Hillis is seeking a new long-term contract.

Because the “Madden” cover was determined by a vote of fans and not through a negotiation, the value of the deal was said to be predetermined, and sources said the value is somewhere in the low six figures. The bigger value of that deal for Hillis, some marketing experts said, is in raising his profile.

Hillis’ brother Kyle Hillis, who agents said has been acting as his business manager, oversaw the “Madden” deal, sources said. Kyle Hillis did not return a call to his cell phone. EA Sports officials would not comment.

Peyton Hillis, through the Browns, also declined comment for this story, and Browns general manager Tom Heckert was not available for an interview last week.

If Hillis is unable to negotiate a long-term extension with the Browns, he could be an unrestricted free agent next year.

GOAL SIGNS REED, NIKE DEAL: Goal Marketing, a New York-based golf representation firm, has signed Patrick Reed, a two-time All-American who recently turned professional, and negotiated for him a three-year equipment and apparel deal with Nike.

Reed will wear the Nike swoosh on the front of his cap. In addition to the Nike deal, Goal negotiated a deal with TaxSlayer.com that gives the online tax service a primary position on Reed’s golf bag.

“We are extremely excited to sign him,” said Goal agent Kevin Canning, who will serve as Reed’s primary agent. “He is probably the longest kid that came out this year; driving a golf ball is a major strong point of his game. He is the total package.”

ALL PRO SIGNS BURNETT: All Pro Sports & Entertainment has signed linebacker Kevin Burnett for representation and negotiated for him a four-year, $21 million deal with the Miami Dolphins.

All Pro agents John Rickert and Peter Schaffer represent him. He was formerly represented by agent Ricky Lefft.

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