In taking a break from the morass of Courtroom football for a night, it was a pleasure going to Radio City last night and experiencing the first round of the Draft. It was the first time I had ever attended a Draft despite working in and around the NFL — as a player and a team executive — for twenty years. As an agent, during the time I represented players the norm was that only the top pick, and perhaps one or two more players at most, would be invited. I certainly never had the top pick, and the one time I was poised to represent one of the top picks, Ricky Williams left me for Master P.
As a front office executive with the Packers, I certainly never went to the Draft. I was in our Draft room on the phone with other teams and agents, including that fateful call six years ago to Aaron Rodgers, who had been sitting all alone in that green room for five hours (and I had to make him wait another ten minutes to see if an offer for the pick came in). The two people sent to work the phones in New York for the Packers every year have been Chris Kirby and Bryan Nehring, from the video and equipment departments, respectively. I saw them last night and even took the headset to say hello to the room where I sat for nine years.
In the middle of the first round last night, I decided to take a stroll through the green room, where a record 25 players had been invited to attend. I took note of the sizes of the players' groups that each brought along with them. I worry about players with large numbers of people surrounding them at the Draft. The more people in that picture on stage with the player after their selection, the more I worry about their financial future.
I saw the agony and the ecstasy last night, from the joy of players being selected to the inexorable wait for their name to be called. And I felt even more for Aaron and what he went through in 2005.
As to the agents, it was good to catch up with many of them. Tom Condon and Ben Dogra of CAA led the first-round tally again with five picks, including four in the top 12 (AJ Green, Aldon Smith, Blaine Gabbert, JJ Watt) and Anthony Costanzo. Dave Dunn's group, Athletes First, had four (Von Miller,Jake Locker, Ryan Kerrigan, Nate Solder) and the new coalition between longtime agents Jimmy Sexton and Pat Day produced three (Julio Jones, Christian Ponder, Cameron Heyward). And Bus Cook, still pushing after all these years, bookends the first round with the top pick, Cam Newton, and the last pick, Derek Sherrod, which means Cook will negotiate with the Packers — we did a few deals over the years for a certain quarterback — once again.
The remaining question, of course, is under what system these rookies will be paid under? We may get more clarity today, but agents are rooting for an imposition of the 2010 work rules, which means that they are negotiating off of the 2010 rookie contracts, which is precisely the system the Owners are trying to change! Stay tuned.
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