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SBJ/Sept. 16-22, 2013/Labor and Agents
Former Jets GM gathers clients
Published September 16, 2013, Page 6
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|Mike Tannenbaum reps coaches and broadcasters for Priority Sports & Entertainment.
Tannenbaum’s dismissal came after he spent his entire career — 19 years — in the NFL, starting as an intern with the New Orleans Saints in 1994. He was hired at the Jets in 1997 as director of player contract negotiations by former coach Bill Parcells. Tannenbaum, an attorney, was the youngest NFL general manager when he was named to that position in 2006.
The day he was fired, Tannenbaum received countless calls and texts. “My first noteworthy phone call was from Coach Parcells, who reminded me — my conversation with him was like 30 seconds — [and] he said, ‘This is not going to be a pity conversation, but what counts in life is what you do after you get knocked down,’” Tannenbaum recalled.
That day, Tannenbaum also received texts from agents at Priority Sports & Entertainment, whom he had faced across the negotiating table for years.
Tannenbaum was immediately presented with various opportunities, including jobs with NFL clubs as well as broadcast opportunities. But after discussions with his wife, Michelle, he decided to build a new division for Priority, a firm that has represented hundreds of NBA and NFL players but was looking to build out its offerings.
Tannenbaum’s new clients Manning and Dickau were both represented by Priority as players during their careers, and Priority’s relationships in the NBA helped Tannenbaum get a foot into the basketball world.
Although he would not discuss the financial details of his deal with Priority, Tannenbaum, who reports to company founder and CEO Mark Bartelstein, said his reasons for taking the job were more than economic. He enjoys working with his clients and helping develop their careers. “I am obsessed with professional development and people who are around me, they know that. That is why they will get an article from me at three in the morning,” Tannenbaum said.
Savage, former general manager of the Cleveland Browns and current executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, said Tannenbaum negotiated his recent broadcasting deals with ESPN and Sirius XM. Before signing with Tannenbaum in May, Savage never had an agent before. “He’s really been a terrific advocate for me,” Savage said.
There have been several agents who have gone from representing players to negotiating against them as front-office executives over the years, including Bruce Allen, general manager of the Washington Redskins, and Bob Myers, general manager of the Golden State Warriors.
But Tannenbaum could not think of anyone who has gone from being a general manager to an agent.
He said the workload is similar to that of a general manager; the hours are about the same — long — and seven days a week, 365 days a year. But the life of an agent is much less structured and more unpredictable, Tannenbaum said.
“Coming from the regimented world of the NFL and the schedule and working with the CBA, which would tell you what we could feed the players, how much we could pay them, when we could travel, what time the next meeting is, what time is lunch,” Tannenbaum said. “This is the exact opposite. When a client calls, you drop everything.”