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Volume 24 No. 158

Labor and Agents

NFL Jets draft pick QB Geno Smith yesterday announced that he will hire Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports, a few weeks after he “fired his agents after plummeting in the NFL draft,” according to Manish Mehta of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Smith interviewed a “few established agents before making the announcement.” He said Jay-Z played “not that big of a role” in his decision. But Mehta writes the marketing appeal of “working for the high-profile entertainer’s company is impossible to dismiss.” Smith’s contract agent will be Kim Miale, who "doesn’t represent any players who have ever played in the NFL.” She does represent “two players who are not affiliated with any teams at this point” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/23). USA TODAY’s Mike Garafolo notes Jay-Z is not certified by the NFL Players Association, so Miale "will handle contract negotiations.” Smith prior to signing with Roc Nation Sports interviewed Lagardère Unlimited’s Joel Segal and “a few other agencies with plenty of NFL contract experience” (USA TODAY, 5/23). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Mike Sielski writes given the “connections that Jay-Z has and the power he wields in the entertainment industry, Smith's hiring of Roc Nation suggests he wants to maximize his marketing opportunities if (once?) he supplants” Jets QB Mark Sanchez. But Smith said such opportunities were "not that important to me, honestly.” Smith: “The only thing that's important to me is the image that is perceived around this locker room” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/23). In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan writes of Smith, "If the fame and fortune of Madison Avenue is what he truly craves, he has to realize that the only road there is through football success.” But Smith "insisted Wednesday that he is not putting his marketing horse before his football cart, but the seeds of skepticism have been planted” (Bergen RECORD, 5/23).

PROBLEM BREWING? Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported Roc Nation signing Smith "could become a bit of a dicey situation for Jay-Z." While Jay-Z owns the agency, he is "not a licensed agent by the NFLPA, and by all appearances he was heavily involved in recruiting Geno Smith to sign" with Roc Nation's Miale. If Jay-Z is "not certified to represent players, he's not allowed to be involved in the recruitment." Florio: "It's going to be interesting to see what the NFLPA does, if anything, to enforce rules that Jay-Z may have broken" ("PFT," NBC Sports Network, 5/22). XAM Sports PR & Marketing Dir Shawn Smith put out a series of tweets on her Twitter account that read, "All I know is I wouldn't be allowed to sit side-by-side w/recruit, instagram it, then sign him. … Waiting for @NFLPA to step in and address the #runnerrule. Rules need to apply to everyone. Period. Not rocket science. … I own my sports agency, have 2 masters degrees, negotiate contracts, have good standing. I Can Not Recruit. Period."