SBJ/Feb. 17-23, 2014/Labor and Agents

Prospect Bridgewater signs trading card deal

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has all the characteristics of a top pro player and is one of the most marketable players in this year’s NFL draft. But it’s still not clear whether he will retain a marketing representative to advise him on potential endorsement deals.

That hasn’t stopped him from landing a trading card deal, as his adviser, former NFL safety Abe Elam, said he has negotiated at least one trading card deal agreement for Bridgewater.

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater waited until this month to sign with an agent.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Under Sage Trading Cards’ deal with Bridgewater, cards of the quarterback should be for sale at retail nationwide in early March, said company president Tom Geideman. Elam negotiated the deal with Sage and the company shot photos of Bridgewater last week at IMG Academy, where he is training, Geideman said.

The NFL player signing season has been marked by new agents entering the market and some non-traditional relationships, but none of the searches for representation have generated the kind of buzz inside the business that Bridgewater’s has in the last six weeks.

He was, arguably, one of the most sought-after players this year, as top agents from major firms, like CAA Sports and Lagardère Unlimited, and top NFL representation shops like Athletes First were said to have met with him soon after he declared for the draft as a junior on Jan. 1.

Most NFL draft prospects, and especially projected top five picks, sign with an agent quickly and are in a training facility shortly thereafter preparing for the NFL combine. But Bridgewater didn’t start training at IMG Academy until sometime during the weekend of Jan. 18 and didn’t sign with an agent until Feb. 4, when he hired veteran player rep Kennard McGuire.

Both the timing of Bridgewater’s NFL draft preparation process and the people advising him have some industry insiders scratching their heads.

Elam, as reported in SportsBusiness Daily in January, has officially been hired by Bridgewater as his adviser, but it is not clear what that job entails. Elam has not returned calls to his cell phone or requests for interviews made to his publicist.

Elam’s involvement has been of significant interest to the NFL agent community, as he advised his younger brother, Ravens safety Matt Elam, who was the 32nd pick of last year’s NFL draft. In the end, Matt Elam ended up not signing with any agent.

Abe Elam’s relationship with Bridgewater developed out of a friendship he had with Matt Elam who is around the same age and grew up in the same area in Florida as the quarterback, according to one source.

Both Elam and Clint Hurtt, the former University of Louisville defensive line coach, were present at Bridgewater’s interviews with agents, which took place at the University of Louisville in January.

It is not clear what Hurtt’s role was or what his current relationship may be with Bridgewater, but he took a job with the Chicago Bears as the NFL club’s defensive line coach in late January, a few weeks after helping Bridgewater with his agent search.

Hurtt did not respond to a call or questions sent through the Bears. 

"Clint Hurtt and Teddy have had a relationship for years," said Rocco Gasparro, University of Louisville assistant sports information director for football. "I know Clint helped Teddy in the process of selecting an agent and I do know a few of those interviews took place in the Louisville football complex."

McGuire, in a brief interview earlier this month, said he didn’t know why Bridgewater made some of the choices he did or comment on the timing.

“What I can tell you is Abe has put everything in front of Teddy and let Teddy make his own decisions as to when and who,” McGuire said.

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