SBJ/April 8-14, 2013/Labor and Agents

Maxx signs ex-GM Graves, NFL players for broadcast work

Liz Mullen
Maxx Sports Entertainment has signed former Arizona Cardinals general manager Rod Graves as well as several current NFL players for broadcast work.

The players are Detroit wide receiver Nate Burleson, Baltimore defensive lineman Chris Canty and free agent linebacker Bart Scott.

“Rod is a real likable individual who has been around the NFL for 30 years and brings a lot of credibility from the front-office perspective,” said Mark Lepselter, founder and president of New York-based Maxx, which specializes in representing broadcasters.

Former Arizona Cardinals general manager Rod Graves “brings a lot of credibility,” says Maxx’s Mark Lepselter.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Graves was let go by the Cardinals at the end of last year. He’d been Arizona’s general manager since 2007 and with the organization since 1997.

As for Burleson, Canty and Scott, Lepselter said the three have no plans to retire from the NFL any time soon but have hired him to start getting broadcasting opportunities now.

Agents say more and more players in multiple sports are hiring broadcast agents while they are still playing.

“Identifying players who are near the end of their career and signing them as broadcasters is an industry trend,” said Lonnie Cooper, founder and owner of Atlanta-based sports marketing and talent representation firm CSE, in an email. CSE counts sports broadcasters, coaches and MLB players among its clients.

A big reason for the development is that there are so many more opportunities for broadcasters than in years past. Networks are expanding their number of hours of sports programming as well as their platforms, including digital and radio. So while it used to be that just big-name players would get a chance for a second career in broadcasting, that dynamic is evolving, too.

“It’s been fantastic with the broadcasting industry, with all of the networks expanding their platforms,” Lepselter said. “There is a lot of competition in the marketplace, and it only helps our side of things, and the talent,” he said.

> JL SPORTS SIGNS NFL PROSPECTS: JL Sports, an NFL player representation firm owned by agent Joe Linta, has signed Harvard tight end/fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who impressed NFL talent experts at the Senior Bowl earlier this year.

Branford, Conn.-based JL Sports also signed Southern Illinois linebacker Jayson DiManche, Stony Brook running back Miguel Maysonet, California (Pa.) safety Rontez Miles, Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor, Michigan State offensive guard Chris McDonald and Iowa offensive tackle Matt Tobin.

Linta and JL Sports agent Tom Kleine will represent the players.

Linta has made a career out of signing players who were not highly rated but went on to become starting NFL players with long careers. Among them, Linta negotiated Super Bowl MVP and Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco’s six-year, $120 million extension last month. Linta said when he first started recruiting Flacco in college, Flacco was a projected seventh-round pick. (He ultimately was picked No. 18 overall out of Delaware in 2008.)

This year, Juszczyk and DiManche are getting the attention of some NFL clubs despite not being highly rated. Juszczyk has set up 11 pre-draft visits with teams, and DiManche has visits planned with a personnel director and several linebacker coaches after he recorded an 11-foot broad jump and a 39-inch vertical leap, Linta said.

CBS Sports senior NFL draft analyst Rob Rang said those numbers are impressive for a linebacker.

As for Juszczyk, Rang said, “I don’t know how to pronounce his name, but I’ll tell you, he’s a player. He played really well at the Senior Bowl and any time you have a player from Harvard or an Ivy League school play well, it opens up some eyes.”

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

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