Former NFL linebacker and current NFL agent Barry Gardner has launched his own agency, BeGreat Sports, and is co-representing 22 NFL players, including Redskins defensive end Jonathan Allen.
Gardner is co-representing the players with Blake Baratz, president of The Institute for Athletes. Gardner left The Institute for Athletes, where he worked since 2009, to form his own agency last month.
“My time there was awesome” Gardner said, adding that he wished the agency nothing but success in the future. Baratz declined to comment for this story.
Other NFL players they are co-representing include Rams rookie running back John Kelly and Redskins linebacker Mason Foster.
Gardner grew up on the south side of Chicago and was a walk-on offensive lineman on the Northwestern football team. But he switched to linebacker and ended up being named two-time first-team All-Big Ten as well as a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
Drafted in the second round, No. 35 overall, in the 1999 NFL draft by Philadelphia, Gardner played for the Eagles, Browns, Jets and then Patriots. “My first year in New England , I shattered my leg and ankle in the last preseason game,” Gardner said.
Gardner went to Arizona to recover at the Exos training facility and ended up working as a linebackers coach for the facility, which trains elite athletes. He formed The Institute for Athletes with Baratz in 2009.
At TIA, Gardner had the title of vice president, director of player development. He became certified by the NFL Players Association to represent players in contract talks with clubs in 2016. Even as a kid, he thought about owning his own business one day, he said.
“As my passion for this business grew, I knew at some point I would launch my own firm,” Gardner said. “As a former player, and at the time having been on the representation side for seven years, it was the logical next step in my growth both personally and professionally.”
■ KATZ BROTHERS FORM FIRM: NFL agents and brothers Michael and Jason Katz have left CSE Talent and formed their own NFL player representation firm, Katz Brothers Sports, the two confirmed last week.
“We have an exceptional client roster from Pro Bowlers to rookies, all of whom committed themselves to this endeavor because of our commitment to them,” the brothers said in a statement to Sports Business Journal.
The brothers represent about a dozen NFL players, including Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, Redskins linebacker Zach Brown and 49ers running back Alfred Morris, all Pro Bowlers, as well as Rams rookie linebacker Micah Kiser, winner of last year’s William V. Campbell Trophy, otherwise known as the “Academic Heisman.”
The Katz brothers joined CSE Talent in August 2016, where they established an NFL player practice. Prior to that, they worked at big NFL player representation firm Rosenhaus Sports, which is owned by brothers and NFL agents Drew and Jason Rosenhaus.
Danny Martoe, president of CSE Talent, declined to comment on the Katz brothers’ departure from the agency.
■ EXCEL SIGNS GOLFERS: Excel Sports Management has signed two young, recently turned pro golfers, Dylan Meyer and Harry Ellis, for representation. Meyer, who made his pro debut at the U.S. Open, where he tied for 20th place, will be represented by agent Alex Burge. Ellis, a Brit, was the youngest winner of the English Amateur when he was 16 and also won The Amateur Championship in 2017. He will be represented by agent Paul McDonnell.
■ CAA SIGNS LINDSAY: Creative Artists Agency has signed Rachel Lindsay, star of “The Bachelorette” in 2017 on ABC and now an ESPN broadcaster, and is representing her in all areas. Agent Michael Klein is leading the team representing Lindsay.