Agents say they have NFLPA's back in labor standoff

Posted: February 26, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - Friday brought another measure of just how ominously the NFL's labor spat hangs over the game: On the day that top draft picks at some of football's glamour positions were scheduled to meet the media, the biggest buzz surrounded a closed-door meeting of agents and the NFL Players Association.

In a rare show of unified purpose, four of the league's most powerful agents told reporters that they are behind the NFLPA and that players are ready for an extended lockout, even one that lasts the entire season.

"As soon as De Smith got this job, the NFLPA sent out a lot of communication, back in 2009, to be prepared for this moment, so we're ready," said agent Drew Rosenhaus, referring to the union's executive director, DeMaurice Smith.

Rosenhaus, who represents Eagles DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy, said the agents support the NFLPA and Smith and are working to make sure the players are ready if a lockout is imposed.

Alongside Rosenhaus stood power agents Joel Segal, who represents Michael Vick and other Eagles; Tom Condon; and Ben Dogra.

The lockout has created a dilemma for Vick and Segal. Under normal circumstances, the quarterback might be able to negotiate a new deal with the Eagles. Even with the franchise tag on him, Vick would face a fairly straightforward future. But now there is debate about whether the tag will be valid once the collective bargaining agreement expires. Segal declined to comment when asked how he would handle the tag and Vick, who would get a significant raise under the tag but not long-term security.

"Mike's always excited to play football," Segal said.

At nearby Lucas Oil Field, quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers met with the media, but much of the NFL press corps hovered outside the agents meeting.

The owners argue that so much money is now going to players that they don't have enough for investments such as new stadiums that they say will grow the game, and revenue, for everyone.

The players working out in Indianapolis this week will be caught in an odd middle ground if the lockout does begin March 4. Current players would immediately be barred from having any contact with their teams and coaches. Incoming rookies, however, could still hold workouts and interviews with teams leading up to April's draft. Contact would stop, though, after that date.

The meeting was designed to give agents an update on where the labor dispute stands and rules if a lockout is implemented.


Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214 or jtamari@phillynews.com.

Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JonathanTamari

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