Leigh Steinberg is one of the best
known sports agents. Beginning with
his representation of the NFL's top
draft pick in 1975, Steve Bartkowski,
Steinberg has helped negotiate
contracts for some of football's top
players. He has been labeled as "the
quarterback agent" with a list of
clients that includes such NFL stars
as; Warren Moon, Jeff George and
Daily sports writer Chad Safran
recently spoke to Steinberg about the
NFL and life as an agent.
Daily: The decision in the case of
MpNeil v. the NFL basically said
that players were being unfairly re-
stricted in their efforts for free
agency. How does this affect the
owners and players?
Steinberg: Free agency has been;
a long time in coming in football. II
*is already there in baseball and bas-
ketball. The NFL having lost the
McNeil case can basically set a Nov.
12 deadline in the Reggie White
case, which is a case where all the
players who's contracts expire Feb.
1 will be free agents.
Management is now going to
have to scramble to put together a
new collective bargaining agreement
that allows them at least some
limitations on free agency. The draft
of 1992 was the last draft agreed to
under the 1982 collective bargaining
With the prospects of neither a
draft nor control mechanisms on
those free agents, one would think
they would scurry before Feb. 1 to
go ahead and negotiate a new col-
lective bargaining agreement.
D: What is the current status of
the Reggie White case?
S: The players are saying that
once our contracts expire on Feb. 1
we should be total free agents with-
out any impediments. They are wait-
ing for Judge (David) Doty to rule
D: The NFL had a union, per se.
What kind of impact did the lack of
a union have on the players in these
9 two cases?
S: The decertification of the
union allowed the players to argue
not only was there no collective bar-
gaining agreement to. give away the
restrictions on free agency, there
wasn't even anyone to bargain with.
So, it was critical in winning
The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - November 16,1
usses the NFL
D: If free agency comes to the
NFL, will the small market team be
S: Three quick things. Number
one, the major source of income in
the NFL is television and it is shared
equally. Green Bay gets the same
amount as Detroit does even though
it is a much smaller market.
Second of all, the players have
talked about salary cap. In that case,
it would make no difference at all
because each team would have the
Third, the big endorsement mytt
of the big city is just a myth. In Los
Angeles, there wasn't a single player
who had his own TV or radio show
for the Rams or the Raiders. In
Indianapolis and Kansas City, there
were tons of opportunities for these
shows. So the point is that there is
only a myth.
There is only one ball, and a
quarterback needs to be a starter to
make money. It doesn't follow that
you are going to have Troy Aikman,
Jim Kelly and Warren Moon all try-
ing to play for the same team. They
need to start. It's pride, ego, fun.
D: You have had to deal with
many organizations in the NFL. Two
of these teams, the Dallas Cowboys
and Cincinnati Bengals, are known
for their contract negotiations. The
Cowboys sign their picks on draft
day. The Bengals, on the other hand,
tend to have very long negotiations.
Compare the two situations. Does it
get frustrating for you?
S: Yes, it does because the goal
of successful representation - it
doesn't take a genius to hold a
player out of training camp endlessly
or to take the team's compensation
- the trick is to maximally compen-
sate a player so it does not impend
on his normal progress and to try to
do everything possible to make him
part of the team.
There are several keys to negoti-
ating. The first key is to protect the
ability of a player to have a normal
The second is to be in training
camp on time, if possible, participate
in all the pre-training camp situa-
tions. The key is to have a player
walk into a city with his head held
I understand that the average
working person in this country
makes $30,000 and they are not to-
tally empathetic to an athlete com-
plaining he is making $1.2 million
compared to $1.6, which is why a
number of different times our ath-
letes have offered to take a cut in a
complete package to the extent that
the team owners would lower ticket
prices; so as to sustain a younger
group of fans so that more could see
the game live. This is the same rea-
son why I think it is important for an
athlete to show their commitment to
The key to a successful negotia-
tion is that it will not have much
publicity at all. It is only when they
are failing that they become news.
D: Why are NFL holdouts so
much more publicized?
S: This was a very special sum-
mer. It is because there is no free
agency. The only time that the
players, unfortunately, feel that they
have any power to hold services is
when they are rookies. The structure
is set up so that a player can only sit
out or sign a contract. He can't go in
and practice while he is negotiating
his contract. That is an NFL league
rule. There is no salary arbitration
that gives a finite result. There is
simply this free system of negotiat-
Because players don't have the
capacity to be free agents, they end
up stuck. We end up with a ludicrous
system where rookies make enor-
mous amounts of money, whereas
proven, productive starters make
much less. This summer the McNeil
case postponed everything. An ex-
ample would be that last year we had
all of our draft picks in 1991 in on
time to camp.
D: For the fans, it is very frustrat-
ing to see these players hold out.
Especially, the offensive linemen
and quarterbacks who need to learn
S: There is no question about it
that a quarterback or offensive line-
man who misses a significant
amount of training camp will not be
very effective. That's a choice the
clubs put the players in because of
It is not something that I love. I
consider it an unsuccessful negotia-
tion when I bring in the players late
and I've done unsuccessful negotia-
D: Do you take any of the blame
upon yourself when these players are
S: Oh, yes. As I said, I consider it
a failure if someone cannot reach an
agreement. I have had two long
quarterback negotiations with David
(Klingler) and Andre (Ware). I did-
n't feel wonderful about the delay in
either one. It happened in both cases
that the team told us that the player
wasn't going to start the first year
whether we had him in on the first
day or later, but I still didn't feel
wonderful about either one.
D: Why is so much of your em-
phasis put on the NFL, especially
S: We do baseball. We have been
rolemodeling quarterbacks. They
have a tremendous impact, and it's a
quarterback driven game. It's a bit of
a misnomer (the quarterback agent
label); at defensive line I have
Howie Long , Russell Maryland and
Ray Childress, at linebacker I have
Junior Seau and Derrick Thomas.
But the quarterbacks tend to have a
higher profile, and that's just the
way the game is structured.
D: What advice would you give
to a player who is thinking about
leaving college early for the pros?
S: I advise every player to stay in
school and just tell them to go
straight back. I tell them if they re-
ally, really want to finish their senior
year to go do it no matter what hap-
pens. So I advised David Klingler to
go back to school and he did.
I was ironically in the situation of
having Tommy Maddox, where re-
porters would call and ask "Is he
crazy for coming out of school
early?" and then five minutes later
they would ask "Is Klingler crazy to
stay in school?"
The reality of it is that a player
needs to look into his own value
system and figure out how important
education is in their senior year. If it
is very important to them, they
should simply stay in school. If it is
not and if they are playing a position
where they feel they might be in-
jured, then on an individual case-by-
case basis, they have to look at their
Tie leaves seniors
with ugly memory
Corwin Brown thought he was done with this.
His senior season. A fifth straight Big Ten title. National
championship aspirations. And the painful, burning memory of last
year's Rose Bowl defeat buried in his soul. No more shaking his head,
he had told himself this summer. Enough already.
But there he was Saturday, sharply dressed in a suit and tie as he sat
in a metal folding chair in the media room at Crisler Arena. Hunched
over with his elbows resting on his knees. Shaking his head again.
He stared at the ground. He didn't want to be there, with the
television cameras, the tape recorders, the notepads. At least not under
For Brown, the emotional leader of the Michigan defense, the last
postgame press conference in that building was supposed to be a
'I leave here with a lot of great memories,' the fifth-year senior was
supposed to be saying of his last run out of the tunnel in front of 100,000
fans. 'I'm sorry to see it all end.'
Not, 'I'm sorry to see it all end like that.'
Would that it were.
"We wanted to do this at the end of the season," Brown said softly, as
he looked up at a circle of reporters and held his index finger high.
Number one doesn't seem very e
likely anymore for Michigan after a
22-22 tie with Illinois Saturday, and
Brown knew it. He knew that the
offense had lost - not tied - the
game. And so had the defense,
especially during the final Illinois
scoring drive in the fourth quarter.
"I'll just have to go back and
look at the film and evaluate and
see what was happening," Brown
said. "I mean, they were just
moving the ball on us."
There was a long pause. He took
a deep breath. And then sighed.
"You know," Brown said, "I KRISTOFFER GILLETTFDily
don't know. Maybe we got tired, Hutchinson
maybe we didn't. I don't know.
But when you're playing to go to the Rose Bowl, trying to be No. 1, you
don't get tired. So I just don't know."
All he could do was shake his head in disappointment and disgust.
Twice this season. Two times too many, he has had to do that.
"Next to a loss, this is the worst thing. I wanted to go out with a win.
But we clinched the Big Ten title, so I'm happy for that."
It wasn't enough, though. Not for Brown, or for any of the 13
Wolverine seniors who played their last football game in the Big House.
"When you play your last game in this stadium, you don't expect to
have a game like this," said Chris Hutchinson, Brown's co-captain on
defense, who was standing 15 feet away from Corwin, shaking his head
in unison. "You can look at it and say, 'You know, it's great. We
clinched the Big Ten championship and the Rose Bowl.' But then again,
a tie is just kind of..." His voice trailed off.
A tie just kind of leaves you searching for words.
Here was Chris Hutchinson, the cornerstone of the defensive line, an
all-America candidate who finally made it through an entire season
without a suffering a serious injury. This was supposed to be his day to
go out in a blaze of glory.
Instead, he stood fielding questions, after he had finished sucking
down a small bottle of cough syrup.
Two of the team's leaders. One standing somewhat sheepishly, with
his hands stuffed in his pocket. The other - the fiery, emotional one -
in the folding chair, saying over and over again, "I don't know, I just
"You could see it in their eyes," Hutchinson reflected, "when they
started running the ball, that, you know, maybe they've got shot, maybe
they've got a shot. We just never did a good enough job - to take the
game away from them and say, 'This is ours."'
And so it is shared. Even though Illinois walked up the tunnel after
the final gun feeling much more content with the 3 1/2 hours that had
just been spent on the frozen field.
There was the silver lining to the cloud for Michigan - the Rose
Bowl berth - but it wasn't enough.
Hutchinson turned around and pointed to his duffel bag on the floor
behind him. A single rose rested on top of it.
"Whenever you have a rose in your hand," he said, "and it's your
senior year and you're going to the Rose Bowl, and especially in my
case, that's what you dream of - being a captain in the Rose Bowl. You
know, I can't complain."
Then he smiled. He knew it was only half of what he was thinking.
Brown knew it, too.
"We didn't just want to go back to the Rose Bowl," he said.
The best laid plans...
* Tankers continue winning ways versus Badgers
Iy Brett Johnson
Daily Sports Writer
It keeps going and going and go-
No, not that certain bunny from a
battery commercial, but the Mich-
igan men's swimming and diving
program. Friday afternoon, the Wol-
verines (2-0 overall) started their
Big Ten season off with an im-
pressive victory over Wisconsin,
Before the meet, Michigan coach
Jon Urbanchek was confident that
the team would have a good meet.
"We always expect to win,"
Urbanchek said. "We've only lol
three dual meets in the ten years I've
been here- two to IU (Indiana) and
one to Ohio State."
The meet went well for the
Wolverines with Royce Sharp, Eric
Wunderlich, Gustavo Borges, and
Eric Namesnik leading the way. In
the opening event, the 400-yard
medley relay, Michigan placed first
Namesnik, an Olympic silver-
medalist, continued his success by
winning the 200 individual medley
and the 200 butterfly. His win in the
butterfly provided the most exciting
race of the day. Namesnik was able
to outreach Wisconsin's Robert
Pinter, an Olympian from Romania,
and win the race by 0:01. Mich-
igan's Brian Gunn finished third,
less than 0.3 off Namesnik's pace.
Wunderlich and Sharp also made
great contributions to the victory. In
addition to their help in the 400
medley relay victory, Wunderlich
won the 200 breaststroke and placed
second to Namesnik in the in the
200 IM. Sharp dominated the 200
backstroke, winning by five seconds.
The diving team competed for
the first time this year and came up
with a good performance. Before the
meet, Michigan diving coach Dick
Kimball said Wisconsin, who had
already dived this year, would be
"Wisconsin has two good divers,
Tom Wright, and redshirt Terry
Butler," Kimball said. "We want to
see where the kids are at this time."
Butler turned out to be
Michigan's toughest competition. In
the one meter, Michigan divers
placed second, third, and fourth be-
hind Butler and in the three meter,
placed second and third, also behind
Butler. Eric Lesser was Michigan's
only diver to place in both events.
He finished fourth in the one meter
and second in the three.
- m ~u ~ m w inum a ..w - .....1 1
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