NFLPA Using Threat of Future Decertification to Keep Agents in Check
We’ve talked about what the lockout and decertification processes mean for the NFL and NFLPA, but one aspect of the sport that hasn’t been discussed much is the agents. Initially, when reports emerged suggesting the players union would decertify, there was concern that without regulation from the Players Association, agents could run wild.
People speculated that agents could theoretically steal each other’s clients, recruit on college campuses, and do things they normally wouldn’t be allowed to based on the rules outlined by the NFLPA. There was also concern that players wouldn’t have to pay their agents since they were no longer governed the NFLPA. Well fear not LBS Nuts, things won’t be as bad as you were worried they might be.
Larry Brown Sports spoke with agent JR Rickert who has numerous NFL, NBA, and MLB clients for answers to these questions. Rickert said the agents were advised about many of these issues during a seminar in Indianapolis. Most notably, Rickert explained that the NFLPA essentially is holding a threat over the agents to caution them against breaking the rules.
“At some point after this is all over, they’re going to go back being a union and anybody who hasn’t followed the rules and regulations and spirit of it along the way, they may not be certified,” Rickert said. “[The NFLPA has] the power and ability when they become a union again, to decide who they want to certify and who they don’t.”
Another interesting point Rickert raised is that agents who are also attorneys are subject to the bar association for the state in which they practice. As he noted, any agent that breaks his bar association’s policy risks being disbarred. Additionally, all representation agreements between players and agents are subject to law in the state in which it was signed, though an agent would have a lot to risk if he or she took a client to court.
As for the concern that clients could change hands or be easily poached, decertification wouldn’t logically serve as a reason players to switch agents. Perhaps Rickert summed things up best when he said that this is uncharted territory for most agents and a time of uncertainty. But with the fear of potential decertification looming over agents, things will hopefully remain status quo.