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Volume 24 No. 159

Labor and Agents

The NFLPA is still reviewing the applications of a number of NFL player agents, multiple sources said, after sending the vast majority of agents notice that they are now "fully certified" to represent NFL players in contract talks with clubs. Agents received an "interim certification" to represent NFL players in contract negotiations immediately after the NFL lockout ended last year. The NFLPA renounced its certification of agents for a few months during the lockout when it was decertified as a union. Agents then reapplied for full certification last fall, after the lockout ended, and agreed to submit to a more intensive background check. It is not clear exactly how many agents have their certifications under review or if these agents will receive their full certification. One agent said those who have not received notice were "nervous," adding that the union "is being really strict" on re-certifying. Sources spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss union business. Union officials did not respond to requests for comment. Most agents received an e-mail on Tuesday informing them they had passed the review of the background check that was completed on them. Some agents yesterday also received a new NFLPA identification card and a certificate. One agent said that they had received cards regularly in the past, but that they had not received the certificate for several years.

Agent Joe Panos, who was involved in recruiting five first-round NFL Draft picks in the last two years, has joined prominent NFL player representation firm Athletes First. Panos, who left longtime NFL player agency Lock, Metz & Malinovic under amicable terms late last month, said in a telephone call last night that he would start today. Neither Panos nor Athletes First would reveal terms of his employment agreement. Athletes First Chair & CEO David Dunn, in a statement to SportsBusiness Journal, said, "We were very impressed by Joe’s commitment to forming personal relationships with his clients while offering the same high level of services that Athletes First provides to our clients." Prior to becoming an agent in '09, Panos played offensive guard for the Eagles and the Bills. He said he first met Dunn seven years ago at the wedding of former NFLer Rob Johnson, who was a friend of Panos and a client of Dunn's. Panos said he spoke with four firms, including Athletes First, before deciding to join that firm and his relationship with Dunn was a factor in his decision. Panos and LMM will continue to co-represent Patriots DE Chandler Jones, Bengals G Kevin Zeitler and Packers DE Nick Perry, who were drafted in the first round this year, as well as Cowboys OT Tyron Smith and Eagles G Danny Watkins.