SBJ/Feb. 3-9, 2014/Labor and Agents

Banner year shaping up for Bus

Cook reps Super Bowl QB, possible No. 1 pick

Bus Cook knows what people in the NFL agent business are saying about him, but he doesn’t very much care.

“I heard I am trying to sell my business,” Cook said last week in a telephone interview from his office in Hattiesburg, Miss. “I am not trying to sell my business. I don’t know who brings all these things up. I guess there are a lot of agents selling their businesses these days, or they are merging more than selling.”

Cook
Cook said he also has heard people are saying, in light of his recent high-profile signings that he is cutting his agent fees. That is not true, either, he said. Cook wouldn’t discuss the financial terms he has with clients, but said, “As far as cutting fees to represent players, I don’t need to do that.”

What Cook, owner of BC Sports, is doing is having one of the best, if not the best, years of his 23-year career as an agent.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, a Cook client, was scheduled to play in the Super Bowl Sunday. (Agent Mark Rodgers represents Wilson for marketing, but Cook can negotiate an extension for him starting at the end of the 2014 regular season.)

In early January, Cook negotiated a seven-year, $127 million deal, $53 million of it guaranteed, for another client, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

He also has one of his biggest draft classes ever, representing 12 players (see chart) with BC Sports agent Don Weatherell and his daughter, Madison Cook Howard, who received certification from the NFL Players Association last year to represent players. BC Sports represents about 30 NFL players, in addition to the draft prospects.

That dozen includes South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who could be the No. 1 pick overall in May.

Clowney’s signing was a
Eric Ebron
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Jadaveon Clowney
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
shock to many, as it had been widely reported that Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports was expected to land Clowney. In a brief interview in early January, Cook said he didn’t know what those reports were based on. “I think they are friends; I think they are acquaintances,” he said last week. “I don’t know how actively — if at all — he tried to recruit Jadeveon.”

In addition to Clowney, Cook signed Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, both projected first-round picks, and Auburn’s Tre Mason, who could be the first running back taken.

Cook has represented high draft picks before, including Cam Newton, who was taken No. 1 in the 2011 draft, but his usual draft class is about half the size of this one.

Cook always works hard, Howard said, but working even harder on recruiting players, and a bit of luck, helped create all of the signings.

“In September, he was barely here,” Howard said. “He was out there, really seeing these guys, spending time to see them and see them in games, and I think it really came through for him in the end.”

Cliff Stein, vice president of football administration and general counsel for the Chicago Bears, said that he doesn’t know why Cook signed so many players this year but that the eight-year, $132 million deal Cook did for client Calvin Johnson with the Detroit Lions last March, as well as the Cutler deal, could have something to do with it.

Stein has been on the other side of the table from Cook in the Cutler deal as well as others and enjoys negotiating with him. “He brings a unique and refreshing style to the agent business,” Stein said.

Stein describes the agent as always calm, never angry, down to earth and full of Southern charm. Stein has met with Cook in Hattiesburg, where he lives and works. Cook puts people at ease, but at the same time Stein notes that he is a sharp attorney who has negotiated some big deals for his clients.

“I think ‘the small-town country lawyer from Hattiesburg’ is a tool in his arsenal,” Stein said. “It’s disarming.”

Cook was practicing law in Hattiesburg when he signed Brett Favre as his first client in 1991.

Cook is now 65. His long career has seen highs, such as 2001, when he did big contracts for Favre, Steve McNair and former client Randy Moss, and lows, the lowest of which came in 2009 when McNair was murdered.

But Cook says he has no plans to retire. “I feel great, am in great health, no problems at all,” he said. “I am continuing on for years.”

Cook doesn’t know whether this year was his best year ever, but he says, “It’s been pretty great.”

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