Family Ties, Homophobia and Fax Snafus: A Look At Why Athletes Fire Their Agents
Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson fired longtime agent Drew Rosenhaus on Sunday; for those of you who have “Didn’t want to pay him the money that he owes” in your office’s “Why will DeSean Jackson sever ties with Drew Rosenhaus?” pool, it looks like you’re going to be splitting the pot with whoever has “To work with Jay-Z”. Congrats!
As Rosenhaus learned firsthand, one great way to torpedo a business relationship is to request the agreed-upon remuneration for a service that has been provided. But that’s not the only way to go about it. Just or not, athletes will always find cause if they want to move on—and as these examples prove, it could be anything from failing to land sponsors to not being their mom.
Agents Fired: Chubby Chandler (2011), Horizon Sports (2013)
Reasons for firing: Girl talk (Chandler), Family ties (Horizon)
Switching agents amid curious circumstances is old hat for Rory McIlroy, who has done the deed twice in two years. The first split occurred in 2011, when McIlroy, citing dissatisfaction with his brand and sponsorships, fired Chandler. Said the surprised agent at the time, ”I don’t know whether it was his girlfriend [tennis player Caroline Wozniacki] getting in his ear or someone else but I thought we were doing a pretty good job, to be honest.”
The second axing occurred in May of this year, reportedly because the golfer plans to form a management company that will be staffed by friends and family. McIlroy’s move away from Horizon came at an interesting time, as the agency had recently finalized a $250 million deal with Nike.
Agents Fired: Tony Fleming (By Dee Milliner), Jeff Nalley and Erik Burkhardt (by Geno Smith), both in 2013
Reasons for firing: Unreasonable self-appraisals
Shortly after falling into the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, Geno Smith fired agents Jeff Nalley and Erik Burkhardt at Select Sports. A pact with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports soon followed (though the NFLPA is now investigating Jay-Z’s courtship of Smith).
Two weeks later Smith’s new teammate, Dee Milliner, fired agent Tony Fleming. Though he wasn’t projected by most analysts to go in the top five, Milliner was neverthless salty about being picked ninth overall. The former Alabama cornerback ended up signing with Pat Dye and Bill Johnson.
Enjoy, Jets fans.
Agents Fired: Marty Magid (2013)
Reason for firing: Antiquated first-world problems
Earlier this offseason, the former Broncos outside linebacker fired agent Marty Magid after the rep missed the NFL-mandated deadline for faxing a re-structured contract to the team, thereby making Dumervil a free agent. Per USA Today, Magid blamed the Broncos for not sending a correct copy of the signed contract until less than a half hour before the 4:00 pm deadline. At that point, Magid and Dumervil, who were in different cities, had to scramble to complete the deal. While the pair claimed to have sent the fax through at 3:55 pm, this was too late for the Broncos, who were forced to release Dumervil in order to avoid a $12 million cap hit.
The sad story did have two silver linings: Dumervil will make $8.5 million this season in Baltimore ($500,000 more than he was slated to make with Denver), and the NFLPA has since inked a deal with an electronic signature company that will shepherd player negotiations out of the Mesozoic.
Agent Fired: Scott Boras (2013)
Reason for firing: Becoming bigger than the game
Did it make business sense for Cano to drop the legendarily shrewd Scott Boras in favor of a Roc Nation-CAA combo as he plays out the last year of his contract? When it comes to negotiating with the Yankees (and other suitors), perhaps not. But as far as becoming nice ‘n famous (and, by extension, rich) goes, it sure doesn’t hurt. As Cano diplomatically put it in a statement, ”At this point in my career, I am ready to take a more active role in my endeavors on and off the field.” In the process, Cano joined a prestigious list of players who have fired Boras, including Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield, the latter of whom called Boras a “bad person”.
Agent Fired: Todd Reynolds (2011)
Reason for firing: Intolerant of intolerance
In 2011, Uptown Sports agent Todd Reynolds wrote on Twitter, “Very sad to read Sean Avery’s misguided support of same-gender “marriage”. Legal or not, it will always be wrong.”
In 2011, Reynolds’ client Andrew Brunette, who was then a forward on the Wild, was very sad to read his agent’s misguided antipathy towards “same-gender ‘marriage’” and promptly replaced him.
Agent Fired: Malki Kawa (2010)
Reasons for firing: D-I-S-R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Unhappy with the just $5,000 in sponsorships that had been secured for his televised fight in 2010, UFC fighter Matt Mitrione fired agent Malki Kawa before he even left the ring. In the locker room, Mitrione elaborated (around the 3-minute mark):
“He did the worst job ever with sponsorships,” Mitrione said. “We were asking him about [sponsorships for my shorts] and the answers that I get were, ‘Hey, your wife’s bothering me about stuff that’s not her business.’ For real, dude? My wife? That’s not her business about my money? That’s a trip.”
Agent Fired: Don Meehan (2006)
Reason for firing: Oedipal complex?
In 2006, the Washington Capitals’ superstar winger fired veteran agent Don Meehan and entered into long-term contract negotiations with the help of … his mother. It ended up worked out OK: Ovechkin inked a 13-year, $124 million contract with the Capitals in 2008, and the following year signed with IMG.
Agent Fired: Sal DiFazio (1999)
Reason for firing: If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense
In 1999, shortly after watching Ray Allen pay renowned lawyer Johnny Cochran Jr. just $500 an hour — as opposed to $2.8 million in commission — to oversee his contract negotiations with the Bucks, then-Laker Eddie Jones fired his agent Sal DiFazio. It was just the “sensible thing to do,” Jones said. Those words turned out to be prescient: a few months after dropping DiFazio, Jones filed a lawsuit alleging that $1 million had been stolen from him by one of the agent’s former employees. The suit would prove to have merit, and DiFazio resigned his status as a certified agent in 2000.