Monday, July 25, 2005


I'll spare you the lame "I'm holding out for more money from the Blogger people" jokes. That would be a waste of space and time, and way beyond my morals. Or something.

Drew Rosenhaus is a scam artist. He could take John Navarre and make him out to be Peyton Manning. And he'd have Navarre hold out in the process. At some point, he will take on the project of convincing Lamar Gordon that he is Ricky Williams, minus the excess marijuana in the glove compartment.

Rosenhaus, labeled a "super agent" by many who are in the business of covering the NFL, has dominated offseason headlines like no other agent before him. Rosenhaus has a bit of an ego - this is the same guy who once tried to convince everyone he was the guy they made "Jerry Maguire" after - and he isn't afraid to have his clients hold out of camp to get what they want.

With training camps starting as early as this week, the attention has fallen on Rosenhaus, who has as many as ten clients who are unhappy with their contracts, and who may consider holding out to pressure teams into redoing those deals. Among those players is Washington free safety Sean Taylor, who signed his current deal last year. Taylor had a fine rookie season, but got himself arrested in the offseason and could very well be facing jail time. That's just the guy I want to give a huge raise to, so I'm sure Daniel Snyder is all over that idea.

Another unhappy Rosenhaus client is Indianapolis running back Edgerrin James. James has one year left on his current deal. If he plays it out, he'll make $8 million this season. But he might not play it out. There are rumblings he could hold out for a long-term deal.

The catch? James signed his current contract four months ago.

Then, there's Philadelphia wideout Terrell Owens. By now, I'm guessing most of you that follow the NFL know about the plight of poor TO. First, his stupid agent forgot to submit paperwork that would have made Owens a free agent after the 2003 season. After that, the 49ers tried to trade him to Baltimore. The deal was done, but Owens wasn't happy. His agent was a moron, and the league was racist for trying to make him play for the Ravens. He whined and groveled until the league stepped in and allowed Owens' agent to work out a trade and a new contract with Philadelphia. The league smoothed it over with the Ravens and the deal happened. Owens signed seven-year deal worth $49 million, despite pleas from the union that the deal wasn't good and that Owens shouldn't sign it.

After a huge season, Owens fired his longtime agent and hired Rosenhaus. Shockingly, the calls started coming from Owens and Rosenhaus for a renegotiation. Owens "outperformed" his contract, Rosenhaus said, and the two were going to seriously consider a holdout after one year of a seven-year deal.

After the Owens story broke, Green Bay wide receiver Javon Walker saw dollar signs. After a rather quiet first two years, Walker broke through in his third year in the league, something wide receivers are prone to do. He made his first Pro Bowl and had his first 1,000-yard season. He decided to follow Owens' plan to get his deal redone with the Packers; he fired his agent and hired Rosenhaus. Walker, by the way, has two years left on the deal he signed before his rookie season.

While one could argue that Walker deserves a new deal, the Packers have made it clear that they are not going to renegotiate a deal when a player has multiple years left on that deal. They held their ground with Mike McKenzie last year, eventually trading him to the Saints (where he is considering another holdout this year!). And it appears they are going to hold their ground with Walker. On Walker's behalf, Rosenhaus uncorked this gem last week on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel:

"In every other profession it goes on. But people want to nail the athletes (because) they have a contract, and they make millions of dollars. It's all relative, baby. It's OK for Tom Cruise to make $50 million a movie? But a guy who risks his life can't get paid a decent wage? B.S. I'm not standing for it."

Now, I've heard a lot of things said about pro athletes that stretch the truth, or use words or phrases that could be possibly be considered inappropriate. Never before can I recall an athlete or agent for an athlete using the phrase "risks his life" to describe what said athlete does for a living. I'm not overly sensitive to the language we use in this time of war, but it strikes me as wrong in every way for someone to use that phrase to describe a football player, given what hundreds of thousands of our men and women are doing overseas right now.

So the Packers will miss Javon Walker "risking his life" at the start of training camp. I'm sure they'll "survive" without him.

Oh, yeah. One more thing. Hilariously, Rosenhaus has taken to blaming Brett Favre for the team's reaction to Walker's request for a new deal. Favre, if you haven't heard, has ripped Walker publicly for holding out, saying it's a selfish move and not a good way to do business.

So...he's wrong?

Rosenhaus has tried to refer to Favre's contract issues in the past. Strangely, no one has been able to find any. Favre has never held out, and Favre has never threatened to hold out. When people talk about public figures making up things to support their stance on an issue, this is what they're talking about. Rosenhaus has talked multiple times about nonexistent contract issues involving Favre, and I'll guarantee you that there are some out there stupid enough to believe it. And there are probably some out there that are stupid enough to believe that Favre's stance on Walker is the reason why the team won't renegotiate, as if all pro sports franchises are like the Lakers and allow star players to run the whole operation behind the scenes.

Oh, and Owens says it's okay that people hate on him, because "people hated on Jesus".

I'll give Walker credit for one thing: He's keeping his mouth shut.

He has an agent that, like him or hate him (and I think I've made my feelings clear), is more than willing to take all the public heat on behalf of the player. Rosenhaus has turned everyone against him, and he has distracted many from the fact that it is the player who hires the agent and supposedly makes all the final decisions - not the agent. Rosenhaus works for these guys, and outside of the fact that his behavior and his public comments do nothing but turn most of the football-following public against the players, he's doing a bang-up job for them.

The truth is pretty simple. Athletes hire Rosenhaus when they want to get a big contract done. He gets the deals done, in most cases. Teams know the intent of a player when they hire Rosenhaus (I'm going to get taken care of, and I am willing to hold out if I don't). Some agents will do everything they can to keep their athletes from holding out. Holding out can take a toll on a player's reputation, and it can take a toll on that player's body, because it's hard to stay in "football shape" working out at the local gym. The number of players who have hurt themselves with lengthy holdouts (Jamal Anderson, Antonio Freeman, Dorsey Levens, Philip Rivers, Don Majkowski, and Kellen Winslow come to mind immediately) is staggering.

This is too difficult a game to play at that high a level, and in this uber-competitive football world, there aren't many athletes who can hold out of camp and come back without hurting themselves. And most of them will only hurt themselves. The teams will survive. Some will thrive.

In fact, I'm on record: If Owens doesn't play for the Eagles this season, then it will be Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid (along with Jeff Lurie, I guess) hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at Ford Field in February. Write that down. Actually, you don't have to. I just did.

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