SBJ/Nov. 11-17, 2013/Labor and Agents

CAA Sports takes over off-the-field representation for Tebow

Liz Mullen
What is next for Tim Tebow?

The free agent NFL quarterback hasn’t been heard from much since the New England Patriots released him Aug. 31. But there is news of a change in agencies to handle his off-the-field work, which could suggest a more concerted focus on non-football opportunities for the popular yet polarizing personality.

CAA Sports, which has been representing the Heisman Trophy winner for contract work since 2011, is now representing him for all off-the-field work, as well.

A team of agents, headed by CAA Sports co-head Michael Levine, will represent Tebow in all areas.

Tebow was formerly represented by WME for non-football work, after the Hollywood talent firm signed him in February 2012. Since then, WME has secured endorsements for him with Nike, TiVo, Jockey, Soul Electronics and energy supplement company FRS. It was not clear why he decided to change firms.

CAA Football co-head Jimmy Sexton, who has represented Tebow for football work since before he was taken in the 2010 NFL draft, said Tebow’s priority is still to play quarterback in the NFL, but Sexton would not handicap Tebow’s chances of returning to the field. Sexton joined CAA Sports in 2011 and brought Tebow with him.

“While we continue to explore opportunities for Tim to return to the NFL, we have also received a great deal of interest in his off-the-field initiatives,” Sexton said. Sexton declined further comment on what that work could be.

Notably, prominent sports broadcast agent Nick Khan, along with Levine and Sexton, will lead Tebow’s representation at CAA Sports. Some have speculated that Tebow would be a possible fit as a football analyst for a major network.

> WME SIGNS BATTIER FOR OFF-THE-COURT WORK: WME, meanwhile, has landed a player some see as a future broadcaster, signing Miami Heat forward Shane Battier for off-the-court work.

A team of agents at WME, led by broadcast agent Jim Ornstein, will represent him. Battier was formerly represented by Tandem Sports & Entertainment, which continues to represent him on the court, and is also represented for speaking engagements by the Washington Speakers Bureau.

Battier, who has played in the NBA since 2001, is known as one of the most articulate players in the league and is believed to have broadcast aspirations. This past June, he served as an analyst for ESPN on its NBA draft broadcast.

He has one year left on his contract with the Heat and has said he is considering retirement from the NBA after this season.

Ornstein counts Fox Sports 1 analyst Andy Roddick, “Fox and Friends” broadcaster Elisabeth Hasselbeck and ESPN and NBC Sports Network basketball analyst Stan Van Gundy among his clients.

> ‘JOCK TAX’ BATTLE: The National Basketball Players Association is working with the NHL Players’ Association to overturn a tax on NBA and NHL players who play games in Tennessee.

Lawyers for the unions are eyeing the possibility of challenging the Professional Privilege Tax as unconstitutional in a federal lawsuit. Canadian news outlet TSN reported that the NHLPA was seeking permission from NHL player members to sue Tennessee over the tax. The tax of $2,500 a game, with a maximum tax of $7,500 a year, was first imposed on NBA and NHL players in 2009.

But the NBPA is working with the NHLPA on the issue and could join in a lawsuit, if it is filed.

“We are adamantly opposed to the so-called Tennessee jock tax, which is inequitable, unjustified, lacks basic accountability, and is unconstitutional, in our view,” NBPA counsel Dave Kiefer said.

NHLPA general counsel Don Zavelo said a lawsuit is one option the unions are considering, noting that the tax is especially burdensome for minimum-wage players. “For some players it means that they earn virtually nothing for games they play in Tennessee,” Zavelo said.

The NBPA and the NHLPA are also supporting legislation that was introduced in the Tennessee Legislature this year to repeal the tax. The Legislature is expected to take up the bill to repeal the tax when it returns to session in January.

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

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