SBJ/March 10-16, 2014/Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40: Ahmad Nassar

Ahmad
Nassar

Organization: NFL Players (NFLPA)
Title: EVP, general counsel
Age: 34
Where born: Cincinnati
Education: University of Michigan (B.A., economics, Near Eastern studies), University of
Chicago (J.D.)
Career background: Law clerk for Judge Denise Page Hood, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan (2004-05); Latham & Watkins LLP, associate (2005-07); Patton Boggs LLP, associate (2007-09); NFL Players Inc., associate general counsel (2009-10), VP, business and legal affairs (2010-13), current position since September 2013
Family: Wife, Bayan Jondy; daughter, Amany (7); son, Hasan (5)

Favorite apps: Uber, WorkFlowy, Evernote, PBS Kids.
Favorite way to unwind: Watching mindless action movies.
Guilty pleasure: Checking my phone even when I don’t need to.
Worst habit: I check my email every time my phone buzzes. I can’t turn it off. If I see a red light or hear an alarm, I’m on it.
Group supported: Unity Productions Foundation.
Person in the industry I’d most like to meet: Mark Cuban.
I have a fear of … : Needles.
Most adventurous thing I’ve ever done is … : Volunteering to do relief work in Kosovo in 2000 and Turkey in 2012; also happens to be the most rewarding thing I’ve done.
2014 will be a good year if … : Michigan football and basketball win it all. And the Tigers, Lions, Pistons and Red Wings too. Also if Detroit emerges from bankruptcy with a plan that is fair to retirees and puts the city on firm financial footing into the future.


KEVIN A. KOSKI

Asked to describe Ahmad Nassar, NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith didn’t hesitate. “Driven, earnest, brilliant, funny and family man,” Smith said.

As executive vice president of business affairs and general counsel of NFL Players, the NFLPA’s for-profit licensing and marketing arm, Nassar has overseen every major legal and business issue for the commercial side of the largest union in sports. Nassar was the lead negotiator for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl television contract with ESPN as well as all sponsorships related to the annual January game, which features players vying to be drafted into the NFL. He is the lead negotiator for NFL Players’ licensing agreements with Nike, Topps, Panini, YouTube and Fanatics. He also led negotiations on NFL Players’ 10-year commercial agreement with the NFL, a deal that was negotiated at the same time as the collective bargaining-agreement that ended the NFL lockout in 2011.

SBJ Podcast:
Executive Editor Abraham Madkour and project editor Mark Mensheha talk about the Forty Under 40 selection process and the class of 2014.

That deal, Nassar said, is one of the things he is most proud of, as it is paying NFL Players about $40 million a year and that amount is expected to continue to increase. Nassar estimates the agreement ultimately will bring NFL Players about $500 million over the lifetime of the deal.

“It’s a better deal for the players overall … in both a financial sense and an opportunistic sense,” Nassar said, noting the new agreement allows for a wider range of sponsorship activation with NFL players, not just on a national level, but also on a local basis.

When you meet him in person, Nassar comes across as soft-spoken, pleasant and approachable. But beneath that exterior, Smith said, is a razor-sharp mind.

“Ahmad is not only a great, smart lawyer, but he is brilliant in the way in which he can analyze and pull apart complex issues and provide that type of complete analytical rigor to a complex problem,” Smith said. “And that is something that doesn’t come easily to most people.”

— Liz Mullen


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