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Former Agent Josh Luchs Reveals Ugly Side of Paying College Football Players

SI has a wonderful story front page on their Web site entitled “Confessions of an agent.” The investigative piece, which is definitely worth your time, will also be featured in the October 18th issue of the magazine. In the article, Josh Luchs talks about how he got into the business of being a sports agent, which college football players he recruited, how he did it, and what made him get out of the business.

If you want to do the hit list of players, it’s quite extensive. Being based on the West Coast and from LA, UCLA players were one of Luchs’ biggest targets to recruit and some of the players he confirmed paying.

One of Luchs’ biggest points goes against Nick Saban’s “pimp” comment, as he contends many players have their hands out asking for money. Luchs justified paying players when he was younger because he was trying to get clients and felt he was helping out the players and/or their families. As he got older, he got tired of trying to be close with college kids and partying with athletes, and decided he wanted to do things without paying players.

Luchs began working for agent Gary Wichard, who has been targeted in the North Carolina investigation, but the two had a falling out and Luchs lost a lawsuit against Wichard. After being suspended by the NFLPA for a year because he withheld a player agent check from Wichard to use in the court case, he decided to get out of the business.

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People Already Hate the Miami Heat

In the wake of his decision to leave Cleveland and join the Miami Heat Super Team, it’s no surprise that LeBron James has become a villian.  We already knew Clevelanders hated him, but the latest Q Scores that were released Tuesday morning reveal that most people dislike King James.  According to The Q Score Company, LeBron is now the sixth most disliked personality in the sports world, ranking behind Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, Batman and Robin, and Kobe Bryant.

Henry Schafer, the executive vice president of The Q Scores Company, said LeBron had been viewed favorably before his decision to join the Heat.  In January, the same poll found that 24 percent of people thought of James in a positive light while 22 percent had a negative opinion of him.  Now, only 14 percent view him in a positive manner compared to 39 percent who dislike him.  That’s a 77 percent decline in his popularity.

Schafer said that the ESPN special “The Decision” was “one of the most detrimental acts – not related to any anti-social behavior —  by a sports personality since the Q Scores were first developed.”

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Players Are Uniting, Have Weapons to Fight Owners

Prior to the Saints/Vikings season opener on Thursday night, the players gathered on their respective sidelines and held a finger in the air to show a sign of solidarity in the face of a labor dispute. The goal was for the players to get the fans on their side as they prepare for a fight with the owners regarding a new CBA.

While most people feel like the owners have the upper hand in the situation, the players’ union has some weapons in mind to fight back. Mike Silver wrote up a tome about the situation for Yahoo! Sports if you’re so inclined. In his lengthy column, Silv mentioned a few tricks the players may have up their sleeves:

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NFL Attendance Could Drop to Lowest Levels in Over 10 Years

It’s the economy, right?  It has to be the economy.  What else could possibly keep fans from paying $150 per ticket, $35 to park, $9 for a beer, and $4 for a pretzel?  The second coming of the Great Depression has to be the reason NFL attendance could drop to its lowest levels since 1998, right?  It could be that.  It also could be that people are tired of ticket costs increasing while the in-home experience is on the rise.

Eric Grubman, the executive vice president of NFL Ventures and Business Operations, told the USA Today that he predicts league-wide ticket sales will drop 1%-2% this season, with season ticket sales slipping a whopping 5%.  It’s the third straight year ticket sales have declined since the NFL set a record high back in 2007.

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Breaking Down America’s 50 Highest-Earning Athletes

Sports Illustrated has released its seventh annual “Fortunate 50″ list, which gives us a sense of the type of money American athletes made last year based on salary, winnings, endorsements and appearance fees.  Despite the epic downfall of his image, Tiger Woods remained at the top of the list with nearly $30 million to spare.  Phil Mickelson held strong at No. 2 on the list and can probably thank Tiger’s demise for any extra cash that may have been thrown his way over the past year.   Here are a few aspects of the list that stuck out to me:

Floyd Mayweather Jr.: Want an idea of how much money can be made in boxing?  Mayweather, who may or may not be ducking Manny Pacquiao, checked in at No. 3 on the list after not being ranked in 2009.  While most of the top athletes on the list rake in a ton in endorsements, Mayweather made only $250,000 in endorsement deals and the rest — $60 million — in salary and winnings.  A bout with Shane Mosley alone earned him $40 million.

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Niners Owner: Super Bowl and NFL Team in London is “Likely”

I sincerely hope Jed York‘s motivation for his latest comments was an attempt at boosting interest for this year’s NFL London game. His San Francisco 49ers will take on the Denver Broncos on Halloween in what has become a yearly event for the NFL. However, York not only expects the game to become more than an annual occurrence, he believes a Super Bowl will be held in England in the future.

What a disaster that would be. What’s next? Resurrect the NFL Germany game plan? If they want to try starting a team, I’m all for it. The NFL has been talking about it for a while now and I suppose it’s one of those situations where you won’t know until you give it a shot. I’d feel bad for the players who were drafted to London, but it would be an interesting experiment. As for the biggest American game of the year being held overseas — I’m not sure I like the sound of that. Here’s what York had to say during his recent trip to London, courtesy of ProFootballTalk:

There is easily enough of a fan base over here to stage two games a season. I think eventually there will be a Super Bowl outside the U.S. I couldn’t tell you when that would be. I can see it both ways. I’m not sure what will be first, a Super Bowl over here or an NFL team, but they both seem likely to happen.”

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MSG Stock Soars on LeBron James to Knicks Rumor

Reports surfaced on Wednesday night that LeBron James would have a one-hour show on ESPN to announce where he’s going to sign in free agency. Details have emerged that James’ announcement will take place in Greenwich, Connecticut, outside of New York City, making people believe he’s going to sign with the Knicks. On top of that news, Reds Army brought it to my attention that both Ocho Cinco and Jared Dudley have said on twitter that LeBron James is going to the Knicks. Even though nothing is official, the speculation has already resulted in heavy financial implications.

CNBC business reporter Darren Rovell pointed out that MSG’s stock was up towards the final hour of trading on Wednesday because of the rumors that LeBron’s going to NYC. MSG is Madison Square Garden, the cable company that airs Knicks games. As if the stock rising 6.5% for the day wasn’t enough, the trade volume has been up almost six times its normal average. Additionally, the options market for MSG was buzzing with thousands of calls contracts being purchased, all in anticipation that MSG’s stock will go up in the future.

If I were the SEC, I would be taking an extra careful look at the buys on Wednesday to make sure there was no insider trading going on based on the LeBron rumors.

Sources:
Did Ochocinco and Dudley just ruin LeBron’s “Look At Me” party? [Reds Army]
Market Bets LeBron Will Be A Knick? [CNBC]
MSG Stock [Yahoo! Finance]