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SBJ/June 30-July 6, 2014/Labor and Agents
Roc Nation’s Miale moves beyond ‘negativity’
Published June 30, 2014, Page 10
|Miale has worked on marketing deals for Roc Nation athletes beyond her NFL clients.
Rival agents complained to the union as well as to the media, alleging she had violated the “runner rule” because Roc Nation Chairman Jay Z attended a meeting with Miale and Smith before Smith signed. The agents, quoted anonymously, said Miale was able to sign Smith only because Jay Z was her boss.
Media outlets nationwide carried stories when the union initiated the investigation last May. Jay Z even rapped about it on the “La Familia” track of his “Magna Carta Holy Grail” album, which came out in July.
“I anticipated there would be some sort of interest when we signed Geno, but I did not anticipate the kind of negativity that went on,” Miale said.
The NFLPA in December cleared Miale of any wrongdoing. “Of course, the stories that we actually didn’t violate any of the rules were few and far between compared to the stories that initially came out,” she said. Under NFLPA regulations, only certified agents can recruit players. The NFLPA cleared Miale, however, issuing a memo to agents saying that noncertified associates could meet with the potential client if the meeting took place at the agent’s place of business.
As for the rival agents, Miale saw them at the Super Bowl and at the NFLPA’s agent meetings earlier this year. “I went to the combine and the agent seminar as well,” she said. “It’s interesting because I was with a lot of the male agents I think that may have said a lot of things off the record or anonymously, but when I was there no one approached me.”
Miale said she knew that the NFLPA’s attorneys investigating the situation would find “we didn’t do anything wrong.” But, she added, “It was definitely a challenge at the time.”
Miale took some hits in the media during the investigation but did not speak out then. She agreed to an interview, the first she’s done, only after multiple requests were made to Roc Nation Sports over the last year.
She has moved on from the episode and is signing new NFL clients as well as working on endorsement deals for other Roc Nation Sports athletes.
Miale now represents three NFL players — Smith, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown — for playing contract as well as marketing work. She co-represents Nicks and Brown with CAA Sports’ Tom Condon. All of Miale’s clients contacted Roc Nation Sports after leaving their previous agents, she said.
|Miale made news when she signed New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith as a client for Roc Nation Sports.
In a male-dominated business known for its machismo, Miale, 35, is a bit of an anomaly. She is not a big talker or the loudest voice in the room, but when she speaks, she is thoughtful, straightforward and all business. In an hourlong telephone interview, she didn’t shy away from any questions, but she didn’t offer a lot about herself, either.
Asked whether he would describe her as shy and soft spoken, Roc Nation Sports President Juan Perez said, “She seems that way, but she’s not.”
Perez hired her instead of many other applicants, including NFL agents with more experience and clients, because he liked that she was a litigator, could negotiate endorsement contracts and was certified to negotiate NFL player contracts, as well. “I didn’t want someone who brought just one thing,” he said.
Perez said he also liked that she hadn’t worked for a long stint at a company with an ingrained culture.
“I wasn’t looking for a guy or a girl who had 20 years of experience,” he said. “I wanted some new blood, some fresh blood. And with the experience that CAA has, we thought, ‘We’ll put that together and it will be great.’”
At Roc Nation Sports, in addition to representing NFL players, she has worked on contracts for Robinson Cano’s endorsements with Wilson, Alaska Airlines, Panini and Topps; Kevin Durant’s deals with Kind Healthy Snacks and 2K Sports; and CC Sabathia’s deals with New Era, Topps, Sony and DirecTV.
The two adjectives that Perez and three others interviewed for this article used most often to describe Miale were “smart” and “hardworking.”
“I think she listens more than she is probably going to talk, and she retains the knowledge of the people around her,” Kuliga said. “She doesn’t need to be the center of attention, but when she says something, it’s profound and it’s what needs to be said.”
Miale interned two semesters and a summer at K Sports, working on deals for former quarterback Doug Flutie, who was an active NFL client of Kuliga’s at the time. As an intern, she worked on Flutie’s Reebok deal, including making revisions to the draft and doing market research, as well as appearance contracts, among other things, Kuliga said.
Miale grew up in Rhode Island and went to school at Providence College before going to law school in Boston. She served a one-year judicial clerkship with the justices of the Connecticut Superior Court before being hired by a Boston law firm. She was recruiting NFL players as a consultant for Madison Avenue Sports & Entertainment when the company decided to disband its representation division. Founder Joe Tacopina introduced Miale to Perez and Roc Nation Sports vice president Rich Kleiman.
Miale was certified recently by the National Basketball Players Association to represent NBA players in contract work and plans to recruit NBA clients. She is also in different stages of talks with companies for about a dozen new deals for Roc Nation Sports clients, she said.
“I want to just work hard for my players,” Miale said. “I don’t want to work for too many of them so I am not able to give them the individual attention that I am able to give them now.”
Smith, responding to questions by email, said that he talks to Miale often and that the fact she is a woman in a male-dominated business was not a factor in his hiring her. “She is talented and does her job well and that’s what I care about,” Smith said. “She is fearless and knows the game — so I know I am in good hands.”
Miale worked with Condon on Nicks’ one-year, $4 million deal with the Colts this past offseason.
“She did most of the background work,” Condon said. “Looking at the teams and making the determination of which teams would have a need [for a wide receiver], what their salary cap situation looked like.” He said that they shared the work of contacting the teams and doing the deal and that he was impressed with her smarts.
“Besides being intelligent and hardworking and quick on the uptake, she cares about the clients very much,” Condon said. “Obviously she is in a tough business for a woman and she seems to be making a lot of strong progress.”