In the competitive environment of recruiting new clients, Eugene Parker will have a bulls-eye on his back — a big one. Other agents will take their shots by reminding top recruits of the Michael Crabtree saga in the hope of eliminating Parker and his firm, Maximum Sports.
The longest rookie holdout I personally endured was about eight days. It finally took me getting on the phone directly with head coach Bill Parcells to get it resolved. The impasse did produce a shorter-term deal with more money and was our only tool to let the team know we felt its offer was unfair and significantly below market.
The following year, I was recruiting a Big Ten player who told me that another agent had told him I had a history of holding out players. Considering that guard Todd Rucci had been my first and only holdout, I found this surprising. I eventually learned that every move you make as an agent is scrutinized and twisted and may eventually be used against you on the recruiting trail to tarnish your image.
So will the Parker holdout of Crabtree harm his career? The answer is an unqualified no. It may actually help him.
Although the agent community will be taking its best shots at Eugene, he most likely will end up with a new high-profile client. Here’s why:
In the eyes of the player, he simply provided a service to Crabtree that he wanted. Once the draft was over, Parker showed Michael the contracts from the previous year and the expected increases per slot for this year. Michael then set goals based on those numbers. He told Parker he wanted the following:
— $20 million for three years (he got $19 million)
— $19 million in guaranteed money (he got $17 million)
— $30 million for five years (he got $28 million)
Eugene told me that when Michael set these goals, he made it very clear there was a downside risk, including missing the 2009 season and going back in the draft in 2010. Michael told him he was “willing to take that risk.”
What finally got Michael to sign was Eugene convincing him that the three-year number is the most important by industry standards and is essentially guaranteed because just about every first-round pick will be on the roster for three years.
Every draft produces a few players who want to be treated differently than the system provides. These players will be attracted to an agent like Parker because he’s willing to give them what they want, despite the negative attention it might draw from the media and the fans.
Years ago, when Drew Rosenhaus landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated with a title that read, “The Most Hated Man in Sports,” many agents thought it would be a professional death knell for Drew. To the contrary, he actually used the article to his advantage by reminding would-be clients that agents don’t have to be liked because they’re fighting for the best interests of their clients. His business took off shortly afterward, and he attracted those players who wanted an agent who was willing to take a bullet for them. Parker’s business may grow as well, especially with veteran clients because they really appreciate an agent who can take shots from the media and the league.
I’m not saying I agree with these methods or even the Crabtree holdout. I have a different style than Drew and Eugene. My point is that there will always be a client (player) who will be attracted to hiring these guys because their “style” matches their image of themselves. So Eugene may be walking around with a few arrows in his back on the way to signing new clients, and Drew will steadily hold his large stable of 100-plus clients for the foreseeable future.
Remember, these agents are providing a service that players want.
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