SBJ/July 14-20, 2014/Labor and Agents

Octagon hires trio of former NFLers to replenish division

Octagon has hired three former NFL players — All-Pro center Jeremy Newberry, defensive tackle John Thornton and cornerback and club scout Charles Fisher — as it reignites its NFL player representation division. 

Fisher

Newberry and Thornton were certified to represent NFL players for contract work last year by the NFL Players Association, and Fisher is expected to apply for certification. They will work with veteran Octagon agent Ken Landphere and agent Mike Swenson, who was hired earlier this year. 

“We are adding these three former players who have developed very significant business experience after their player days and are in an ideal situation to assist top football players in their development on and off the field,” Octagon President Phil de Picciotto said. 

Fisher and Thornton went to the same college, West Virginia, and were both drafted in the second round in 1999. Thornton last played for the Bengals in 2008. Fisher’s playing career was cut short in 2001, but he later worked as a scout for the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. 

 
John Thornton (left) and Jeremy Newberry were certified last year to represent players.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES (2)

In 2009, Thornton and Fisher founded a company, JockBiz Sports, which served as a management company, advising NFL players on issues including which NFL agent to sign with for representation. Octagon is hiring Thornton and Fisher, not acquiring their business. 

Notably, Fisher and Thornton were involved in advising New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith on his second agent search last year, which ultimately resulted in him picking Kim Miale of Roc Nation Sports. Thornton said his experience in managing players will help him in his new career as an agent for Octagon.

Newberry
Thornton

“I have sat in on everybody’s presentation,” he said of agents trying to sign NFL players. “I know how they pitch and what they pitch.” 

Newberry was an Octagon client during his playing career, in which he was a two time All-Pro selection.  

Octagon had a large football practice, but agents Doug Hendrickson and C.J. LaBoy left in March to join Relativity Sports’ NFL practice, and 40 to 50 players are said to have joined them at Relativity. Octagon is involved in litigation with Hendrickson and LaBoy regarding a dispute involving fees for former Octagon clients, including Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. 

Veteran agent Andy Ross also left Octagon in May to start his own NFL practice. There is no litigation between Ross and Octagon. 

It is not clear exactly how many NFL clients Octagon has now, but the company has a 30-year history in representing NFL players and personalities. Clients include Super Bowl-winning coaches Brian Billick and Bill Cowher, hall of famer Emmitt Smith, current Bengals and Falcons coaches Marvin Lewis and Mike Smith, respectively, Stanford University coach David Shaw and former coach and current ESPN talent Herm Edwards. 

Octagon’s new hires are excited about expanding the business. 

Swenson, a 27-year-old agent who was certified by the NFLPA in 2012 and joined Octagon in March, called the hiring three former NFL players revolutionary. “With these guys, [Newberry] being an ex-Pro-Bowler, 11-year vet, one of them being an ex-scout, I think we are all going to bounce great ideas off of each other, learn a lot from each other and we all bring something different to the table,” Swenson said.

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