Friday, January 14, 2011

Show Myself The Money? NFL agent Bob LaMonte and Representing Both Sides of Cleveland Browns Negotiation

Is there a conflict of interest when the same NFL agent represents a team's president, executive VP, general manager and the person whom the team is hiring as coach?

Welcome to the world of the Cleveland Browns!

Bill Lubinger of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has the story and interviews several persons, including Rick and me:

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The middle man in the Browns' 10-day coaching search was Bob LaMonte, whose influence in Berea now stretches from the team's boardroom to the coach's office.

The seasoned NFL agent represents the Browns' executive team of President Mike Holmgren, General Manager Tom Heckert and Executive Vice President Bryan Wiedmeier. He also represents Browns coach Pat Shurmur, who will be introduced today.

How is it that an agent can sit on both sides of the table without a conflict of interest?

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NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the players union regulates agents, not the league. And, according to union rules, dual representation is not prohibited as long as an agent discloses the names of any coaches, general managers or other management types he or she represents.

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"My expectation," said Scott Rosner, associate director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, "is that it would be an arm's-length negotiation."

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Sports lawyer Rick Karcher, who directs the Center for Law and Sports at the Florida Coastal School of Law, said agents would suggest such representation is an advantage because it provides valuable connections, allows for insight other agents wouldn't have and allows them to serve as a helpful mediator when two clients clash.

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Michael McCann, director of the Sports Law Institute at the Vermont Law School, said the remedy is just that simple.

"The fix is easy, at least in theory," McCann said. "Get a new agent."

To read the rest, click here.