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Volume 22 No. 34
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Several agents fall victim to NFLPA test, get suspended

Several NFL agents have been suspended as a result of a new test that the NFL Players Association instituted this year, including Deryk Gilmore, who negotiated Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans’ $82.5 million contract.

It is not clear exactly how many agents lost their certification as a result of the test, but industry sources put the number around 16. The NFLPA did not respond to questions, including how many agents have been suspended, by press time.

The NFLPA for the first time required that all certified agents take a test, electronically over 12 days in June. Those who failed the test were required to go to Washington, D.C., to take a longer test in person with the incoming prospective agents. Those who failed the second test would lose their certification for a year.

NFL agent Deryk Gilmore, with client Mike Evans (left), has been suspended.
Photo: courtesy of deryk gilmore

As reported, the test has been a source of growing anger in the agent community toward the union. At the annual meeting at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, agents lined up at microphones to yell and complain about it.

Another agent who lost his certification was Fadde Mikhail, a longtime marketing agent for top NFL players, who had become NFLPA certified in 2013. Mikhail declined comment for this story.

Agents must receive certification from the union to represent NFL players in contract talks with clubs. Attempts to discover names of other agents who lost their certification were unsuccessful.

Gilmore, who has been certified since 2006 and runs his own firm, Day 1 Sports & Entertainment Management, has appealed the suspension. He is being represented in the appeal by attorney and NFL agent Jon Herbst. Herbst declined to comment, noting the ongoing appeal.

But Gilmore’s spokeswoman, Beth Levine, noted that there was no process in place to appeal after the first test in June.

“We have a leading agent, who negotiated several of the richest contracts in the NFL, caught on the bleeding edge of a controversial new policy that’s raised real due process concerns from all corners of the industry — including players,” Levine said. “We are confident the NFLPA will protect its players and their agents against the unintended consequences and confusion of the new policy — all as we work together to restore the collateral damage foisted upon a highly competent, 12-year veteran agent with impeccable integrity.”

Even if the suspension is overturned, some damage may not be undone as two of Gilmore’s clients have signed with other agents. New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams signed with Tory Dandy of CAA Sports, and Oakland Raiders rookie wide receiver Marcell Ateman signed with Mike Swenson of Wasserman.

Gilmore is well-known in the NFL agent community. He started out working for big NFL player rep firm Priority Sports before starting his own firm and has represented multiple first-round draft picks. The contract he negotiated for Evans in March reportedly included $55 million in guaranteed money and made him the second-highest-paid receiver in the NFL. In late August, Gilmore negotiated a five-year contract extension reportedly worth up to $50 million, with $23.5 million guaranteed, for New England Patriots guard Shaq Mason.

It’s not clear when Gilmore’s and the other suspensions took effect, but news of it rippled through the NFL agent community earlier this month. In a cutthroat industry, agents are loath to praise their rivals, but many praised Gilmore’s negotiation of Evans’ contract, saying it continued to raise the bar for wide receivers. Some expressed shock as well as sympathy for him. “It’s a guy’s livelihood,” said one agent, who asked not to be named discussing NFLPA policies.

HOWARD SIGNS WITH ICM: Washington Wizards star Dwight Howard and his production company, Mansa Productions, have signed with Hollywood agency ICM Partners for representation in all areas off the court, including broadcasting and entertainment work.

Longtime NBA standout Dwight Howard is looking to transition to the other side of the microphone.
Photo: getty images

Howard, a 15-year veteran and eight-time NBA all-star, will work with agents in different departments throughout the agency, including Esther Newberg in publishing, and Courtny Catzel and Matt Sorger in reality/unscripted television. Agent Adam Schweitzer will represent him for acting opportunities, and Mark Zimmerman and Randy Freedman will represent him for endorsements. Agents Lou Oppenheim and Michael Glantz will represent Howard for broadcasting work.

Oppenheim said Howard has been interviewed on shows such as ESPN’s “The Jump” but has not been on the other side of the microphone. Oppenheim, though, said he thinks Howard would be good at it “because he is smart, funny and willing to speak his mind.” He said there is interest in him as an analyst for either college or NBA basketball.

Howard has done acting before, appearing in television shows and films, including playing “Cold Turkey” in the animated film “Free Birds.”

Howard runs Mansa Productions with Kellon Akeem, who also is joining ICM as a client. 

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.