The Anti-Conflict Of Interest Spin Begins

As we’ve mentioned several times of late, agent Tom Condon currently has a conflict of interest.  He represents Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford and Baylor tackle Jason Smith, two of the guys who could end up being the first overall pick in the draft.
And so at a time when Condon is negotiating with the Lions on behalf of Stafford, Condon should be trying on behalf of Smith to get the attention of the Lions, possibly by offering to dramatically undercut the demands he’s making on behalf of Stafford.
Based on some of the comments that are being posted, the effort to take some steam out of the conflict of interest has begun.  As one reader has stated (but as we haven’t personally confirmed), Michael Smith of ESPN recently tried to explain that there’s no conflict because Condon represents Stafford and Ben Dogra represents Jason Smith.
[UPDATE:  We’ve learned that Michael Smith didn’t raise the distinction within the context of the conflict of interest question, but as to whether Condon was negotiating on behalf of Jason Smith when Condon was in Detroit.  Our apologies to Michael Smith, who actually once called out Condon for the many potentially conflicting hats he wears.]
Superficially, such an observation would be right.  Fundamentally, it would be inaccurate.
First of all, Condon and Dogra are the principals of the CAA football business.  Being represented by one is the same as being represented by the other.  Indeed, if they were partners in a law firm, Condon would not be permitted to represent a client whose interests conflicted with a client represented by Dogra.
Second, Dogra and Condon are listed as the agents for Stafford, and Condon and Michael Latrigue are listed as the agents for Smith.  So both the firm and one of its agents — Dogra — are mired in the conflict of interest.
Now that the NFL Players Association is being run by a lawyer (DeMaurice Smith), we hope that said lawyer will develop regulations aimed at forcing agents to step aside from such situations — or, at a minimum, to fully disclose the situation to the clients and to obtain their written consent to the joint representation.

19 responses to “The Anti-Conflict Of Interest Spin Begins

  1. i see what you are saying but what do you propose as a solution? agents can only represent one player? thats not fair. when the players signed with their agents this situation may not have been foreseen and wouldn’t be fair to the players to restrict who they sign with. but at the same time i can see now how jason smith could be upset because he wants his agent to negotiate for him to be the 1st pick.

  2. As long as the clients give written, informed consent, then it shouldn’t matter. The clients can choose whoever they want to represent them. It is the agents responsibility to inform them of the conflict of interest and perhaps suggest they seek counsel from another agent before signing the informed consent.

  3. I’m assuming both these guys are lawyers — doesn’t the bar have ethics rules preventing this?

  4. This is not an agent issue, this is a player issue. It is the player who selects their agent, and the agent serves at the will of the player. If the player does not feel that their agent is representing them satisfactorily, then the player has every right to obtain different representation.
    And it is not as though Stafford and Smith did not know they were each under consideration for the top pick back January. Each player therefore had ample time to recognize the situation of which you have written, and take whatever action they chose to serve them best.
    Since they have chosen to each maintain their relationship with Condon’s office while understanding the situation and simultaneously looking out for their own unique interests it can only mean that they think the benefits of being represented by Condon outweigh the drawbacks.
    Ultimately Florio, it is up to the player to decide who they choose to represent them, and if your idea was carried out to the fullest extent of its logic you would be a proponent of enforcing a bylaw that restricts a draft prospects choices in determining who best serves his interests.

  5. Wow. Two days in a row without a crash! Nice job, Napoleon. Bet you a buck your website crashes again before an NFL’er gets arrested. Ok?
    The funniest thing about this post is, where’s the deception? Not one thing in post ends with one of the players being surprised. So, in legalese, what’s the damage? Answer: there is no damage. “Eyes wide open”, “no harm, no foul”.
    Make up some other stuff.

  6. Calm down, Florio. This is making a story out of nothing. As long as the players feel they are being represented fairly, it should not be any concern of anyone elses. What do you propose, that agents should only be allowed to represent one potential first round pick? This is a ridiculous story. I can’t believe I’m wasting my time commenting on a complete waste of time story …………….

  7. hope against hope there florio.
    demaurice is the new capo gino. already trying to make his first contract much longer…
    players reps got ook by a slick powerpoint multimedia brief.
    baffled by bullshit!

  8. it’s called capitalism right? no different than nascar teams trying to win the same race i would think.

  9. Florio,
    As a lawyer and a football fan I’m 100% with you in this crusade. 21 year old football players don’t recognize the ramifications of the conflict of interest you’ve presented. It’s obvious from the comments that many readers, likely older and better educated, don’t either.
    However, I don’t think the problem lies with Condon. The guy seems to do a kick ass job getting clients EVEN when the seeming conflicts make hiring him less attractive. Kudos to him for his success. No one has accused him of dishonesty or dirtiness (at least this year) … just the possibility of mischief.
    The NFLPA should be protecting the players. Either by instituting waiver requirements from players, ‘chinese walls’ (which could be tweaked to work better than they did on Wall Street), and other NON-EDUCATIONAL rules that protect against the conflicts you’re discussing.
    Education and disclosure alone is insufficient because of the timeline.

  10. While I see the conflict, it is certainly less critical than attorny/client. Liberty isn’t at stake.
    Additionally there is an almost forced conflict. Is competing for first in the draft any different than competing for any roster spot? Sharing a limited pie (limited by salary cap rules) among two or more clients? It’s a slippery but short slope.

  11. One is a OT the other is a QB. How can there be a conflict of interest? The terms of a deal for a tackle do not resemble that of a QB. For one thing, the team can ultimately only choose one of the two player positions on the table (in this case OT or QB). Because of this, the agent cannot possibly be lobbying for one player at the expense of the other’s interest.
    No confiict here. Apples and Oranges.

  12. While I agree the agents can be snakes preying on both their clients’ naivete and team management simultaneously, the only “negative” outcome I really see in a situation like this is that one player ends up being slightly less grossly overpaid than another.
    Remember kids: it says right on the box that Condons can only safely & effectively be used once!

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