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Chargers’ Spanos says some teams are controlled by agents

Robert Kraft, Clark Hunt, Dean Spanos, John Mara AP

Plenty of NFL owners and general managers have had issues with agents from time to time, but few go as far in their criticisms as Chargers owner Dean Spanos and General Manager A.J. Smith, who describe agents as somewhere between useless and destructive.

In a U-T San Diego story that examines the influence of Tom Condon and CAA on the Peyton Manning sweepstakes and other free agent movements around the NFL, Spanos and Smith sound the alarm about agents’ influence.

“Agents have a lot of control over different teams,” Spanos said. “It’s a bad situation, where certain teams are controlled by agents with key coaches and key players. It’s certainly a problem we need to continue to address. . . . There are other owners that feel the same.”

Of course, agents can’t really control owners or general managers at all: Any owner or general manager can choose not to do business with anyone he doesn’t want to do business with. Smith acknowledged that and indicated that the Chargers are ahead of the rest of the league in refusing to allow agents to manipulate them.

“An agent is only powerful, manipulative and influential if you allow it,” Smith said. “There is no ‘we’ in the [agent-team] relationship. The most important aspect of this whole deal is the team. That’s all that ever matters.”

Smith claims that agents don’t actually do their clients any good — at least not in San Diego, where Smith says the Chargers make players fair offers and then don’t change those offers no matter what the agent asks for.

“A player could be represented by superagent Tom Condon or his next-door neighbor,” Smith said. “It really is the same procedure for us. You either like what you’re hearing from us, or you don’t.”

If Spanos is right that some teams are controlled by agents, and if Smith is right that the Chargers don’t allow agents to influence them, then they should actually be happy with the state of things: The Chargers would have an advantage relative to the rest of the league.

If, on the other hand, working with agents instead of against them can sometimes be helpful to teams, and if that’s what the Chargers’ division rivals in Denver just did in the Manning chase, it’s easy to see why the Chargers would be disgruntled right now.

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38 Responses to “Chargers’ Spanos says some teams are controlled by agents”
  1. steelernationsparksjealousy says: Mar 26, 2012 8:42 AM

    Not the Steelers. We are the example of how an organization should be run. The rest of the league has been in our shadow for decades.

  2. east96st says: Mar 26, 2012 8:43 AM

    Gotta take a front office that has that many Super Bowl rings seriously. It’s clear from the end results, that no one does it better than San Diego.

  3. king7key says: Mar 26, 2012 8:43 AM

    Want some cheese to go with that whine…suck it up and do like most teams and play the game.

  4. jimbo75025 says: Mar 26, 2012 8:47 AM

    Scarily enough, I somewhat agree with Spanos here. Having agents representing 100+ players or whatever puts way too much power in the hands of someone who has no interest in the success of any team.

    Simple solution would be to limit the number of active NFL clients an agent or agency may have to 10 or so (grandfathering those contracts which already exist of course). In order to protect the players make sure that the agents cannot break contracts by dumping one player for another, etc. Something which should certainly be looked at for the next CBA.

  5. ssn760 says: Mar 26, 2012 8:48 AM

    San Diego -> Whale’s Vagina

  6. mikea311 says: Mar 26, 2012 8:49 AM

    “Smith acknowledged that and indicated that the Chargers are ahead of the rest of the league in refusing to allow agents to manipulate them.”

    so why did they trade away Eli?

  7. hillzmickelzon says: Mar 26, 2012 8:49 AM

    A.J smith will only win a superbowl if they bring back L.T there all time leading rusher and treat him right. i dont care about the chargers without L.T it doesent surprise me they cant sellout stop treating your hall of fame players like yesterday newspapers.. What L.T cant be 3rd down back? Bring L.T back for a farewell season and sell some tickets.

  8. nflfollower says: Mar 26, 2012 8:50 AM

    Ha ha. We all know the chargers aren’t! That’s why they get so much done in free agency, ha ha. They FIGHT the agents, keep sticking it to em

  9. jacksaysfu says: Mar 26, 2012 8:52 AM

    I guess Vincent Jackson falls into the ‘ not like what your hearing category’ This team is starting to fall off & now that i know the 2 most important people in the organization are always right & refuse to listen to anyone else , now i know why your slipping .

  10. mjkelly77 says: Mar 26, 2012 8:54 AM

    More players should utilize tax accountants and attorneys to help with their contracts. It would be a lot cheaper than using an agent. Agents are leeches.

  11. CKL says: Mar 26, 2012 8:55 AM

    I think the central issue is sometimes things get personal, like any other business negotiation. Or a team or agent’s negotiating tactics turn off the other party to the extent they just don’t want to deal with the hassle (Condon & my team, who hadn’t done business together since 2004 until the Lloyd deal). I know there are teams that have problems dealing with Rosenhaus but my team is isn’t one of them. But I surely get why teams don’t want to deal with him. That guy is one of the most egotistical, obnoxious bleepers ever. “That song “It’s so hard to be humble” was written about that man.

  12. contract says: Mar 26, 2012 8:56 AM

    No team in the NFL has underachieved more than the San Diego Chargers over the past decade, so they obviously know what they are doing.

  13. teambringitstrong says: Mar 26, 2012 8:56 AM

    jimbo75025 says: Mar 26, 2012 8:47 AM

    Scarily enough, I somewhat agree with Spanos here. Having agents representing 100+ players or whatever puts way too much power in the hands of someone who has no interest in the success of any team.

    Simple solution would be to limit the number of active NFL clients an agent or agency may have to 10 or so (grandfathering those contracts which already exist of course). In order to protect the players make sure that the agents cannot break contracts by dumping one player for another, etc. Something which should certainly be looked at for the next CBA.
    —————————————————————
    It’s not the number of clients an agent or agency has, it’s the quality. And if you know what you were talking about instead of just an opinion then you would know that the NFLPA mandates that agents negotiate new contracts for new clients every 3 years.
    Stay out of grown folks’ business.

  14. electionconfidential says: Mar 26, 2012 8:58 AM

    LT, Brees, Sproles, Eli… the list of people that the Chargers have let get away goes on and on and on… blame it on agents if you like, but it seems to make more sense to blame it on A. J. Smith and the owner… can’t cure stupid.

  15. TaiwanMike says: Mar 26, 2012 10:14 AM

    So much for the Chargers having amicable relationships with just about any free agent. Or, could it be that players don’t want to go to San Diego because they have a reputation as a poorly-run franchise?

  16. kevpft says: Mar 26, 2012 10:19 AM

    “The most important aspect of this whole deal is the team.”

    Best joke I’ve heard all year, A.J. Smith, thanks for the laughs.

  17. cobrala2 says: Mar 26, 2012 10:23 AM

    Spanos is right to an extent but this also sounds excessive and out of touch. Some players rarely deserve an improved contract to reflect more appropriate compensation for performing beyond expectation. Do more players try to squeeze more money beyond their merit? Absolutely. But some players do deserve new contracts and this comes across as “oh well” to me.

    Not only do their lack of Super Bowls speak for them, but their lack of fans says even more… I’m convinced ALL the owners are rethinking their operations as we speak!

  18. TurdSandwich says: Mar 26, 2012 10:30 AM

    I love how Steeler fans share credit for things the team does…
    Easiest thing in the world is looking up what team has won a bunch and choosing to follow them..
    Cheers to fans of teams who are still climbing the hill…

  19. portnoychunk says: Mar 26, 2012 10:30 AM

    steelernationsparksjealousy says: Mar 26, 2012 8:42 AM

    Not the Steelers. We are the example of how an organization should be run. The rest of the league has been in our shadow for decades.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    The Steelers are an example of how to lose to Tim Tebow in the playoffs….last I checked.

  20. tinbender2000 says: Mar 26, 2012 10:46 AM

    So you’re a sought after free agent. There are 27 teams that will negotiate with you for your services. And 1 team that will tell you not to bother bringing your agent with you, you’re worth $X, take it or leave it.
    And here I thought negotiating contracts was part of the job description of a GM.
    Maybe if the Chargers had a real GM they wouldn’t suck so bad?

  21. VegasKJ says: Mar 26, 2012 10:57 AM

    A.J. Smith: This is our fair offer.
    Agent: Okay, this is our counter.
    A.J. Smith: Scr#w you guys, I’m going home!

    I don’t think the Chargers understand the concept of negotiating…

  22. christopher525 says: Mar 26, 2012 11:04 AM

    They make an offer and refuse to change it, even if it means players and coaches leave and want nothing to do with them any longer. Smart business move. San Diego, where they aim for mediocre…often times coming up short of even that.

  23. chargerdillon says: Mar 26, 2012 11:09 AM

    As a Charger fan by all means PILE ON!

    here’s my take (as a charger fan): “WAH I’m a billionaire owner and I expect people to take my million dollar deals regardless if they can get money elsewhere”

    “WAH I’m rich and you should want to be a Charger”

    “WAH I make all my money making business deals but i get offended if my deal isnt accepted”

    I’m a San Diego local, but i have no doubt in my mind after hearing this, either different owners of the Chargers or the Loas Angeles Chargers have a better shot of winning a superbowl over these clowns

  24. capslockkey says: Mar 26, 2012 11:13 AM

    Sounds like excuses for failure.

  25. fiennapain says: Mar 26, 2012 11:18 AM

    stay classy san diego

  26. rayguyreturns says: Mar 26, 2012 11:25 AM

    Let’s make this easy.

    All contracts should be 75% performance based, with a 25% league structured base salary.

    No more paying astronomical fees for non productive players who back off once the money is in their pocket (ie: Haynesworth, JaMarcus Russell, etc).
    The agents stand to win if their players do well as does the team. The losers will be the guys who quit on their team.

  27. m3phitic says: Mar 26, 2012 11:30 AM

    “Smith acknowledged that and indicated that the Chargers are ahead of the rest of the league in refusing to allow agents to manipulate them.”

    so why did they trade away Eli?

    ——

    Because they didn’t let Eli dictate where he would go. The Chargers selected him in spite of him and his agents. The Chargers then had the leverage which got them Rivers and a bunch of picks.

    So basically you bringing up Eli is proving the point that the Chargers are bullied by the agents.

  28. rajbais says: Mar 26, 2012 11:47 AM

    He’s not wrong. For example, the Bears and Dolphins have a lot of Rosenhaus clients!!!!

    Tom Condon “runs” the Colts, but he probably has a reputation of running all the crappy teams because they have had high draft picks.

    Guess the name of the agent for all the high draft picks before the SUPER ESCALATING rookie salary scale went awry???

  29. 49erstim says: Mar 26, 2012 12:18 PM

    @east96st… Well stated sir. I needed that hardy laugh today. :-)

    @chargerdillon… It sucks to have to sit back and watch your team underachieve from the top down. The fact that you still roll with the punches earns you respect man.

    He is right about agents being greedy leaches (paraphrasing), but these dudes don’t play ball at all at the negotiating table. That take it or leave it mentality lost them any shot at a SB. They had the talent for a few years nearly. Just a piece or two would’ve done ir. Rivets, Gates, LT and VJax… Damn. Feel sorru for all those guys.

  30. titanblitz says: Mar 26, 2012 1:29 PM

    It’s called FREE AGENCY….get over it.

  31. jamfed619 says: Mar 26, 2012 2:11 PM

    AJ Smith is 100% Correct with the “here’s my offer” point. I think that’s SOLID, and I’m sure there is negotiating involved too (as that’s an agents strong attribute).
    Granted, AJ isn’t buying USED CARS, he’s actually building a team & a competitive/winning product. AJ knows market value for players (and what the team can afford). The surrounding TEAM can actually sell the product for him.

    Do you think AJ was “selling” Eddie Royal a contract to come to SD? No, the offer was laid on the table and Philip Rivers sold the contract.

    Watching Football is about FOOTBALL, not payroll. Really, who cares what the super star is getting paid? That’s for management to control. But, as NFL fans get to see the product, they sure like to know who’s getting paid what and how much… Therefor, most fans think they’re a salary cap-oligist.

  32. sdboltaction says: Mar 26, 2012 2:15 PM

    Being a Charger fan on these boards is like getting beat with a soap on the rope in a southern jailhouse 50+ man shower….

    Stupid Aj Smith.

  33. voxnovo says: Mar 26, 2012 3:45 PM

    I enjoyed this post, especially Mr. Smith’s authorial skill and cleverness as displayed in the final two paragraphs.

  34. tomsd1 says: Mar 26, 2012 6:01 PM

    Geesh: If only De-anna Spanos would stress more about her Lord of NO Rings and what’s happening at the Charger Fortress, she wouldn’t have to worry about the Mannings and Tom Condons of this world dissing her. In fact – De-anna should at least show she has an iron skirt and step in to shut up the Lord of NO Rings, lest he be becomes even more influential in alienating additional players and agents, even beyond All-Pro WR Vincent Jackson and key RB Michael Tolbert.
    “An agent is only powerful, manipulative and influential if you allow it,” Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith said. “… There is no ‘we’ in the (agent-team) relationship. The most important aspect of this whole deal is the team. That’s all that ever matters.”

    BTW – do any of these names sound familiar?

    “At that time, Condon’s IMG agency represented Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson, Donnie Edwards, head coach Marty Schottenheimer, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, among others in the organization.”

  35. tomsd1 says: Mar 26, 2012 6:05 PM

    And they only reason they signed oft-injured Eddie Royal was there was a firestorm brewing here in SD when the Lorf of NO Rings ran off All-Pro Vincent Jackson, and they had to throw around a lot of guarandeed signing bonus $.

    So we lose a #1 receiver (who is 6’5″ and 230 plus pounds, and is fast and can jump and can also run after the catch) – and get two #3’s in return, one of whom is usually injured, Such a deal, and while we are at it – let’s also run off our best RB – Michael Tolbert – and sign somebody’s fullback and claim we made a net gain.

    Surrrrrree!!!!

  36. dcboys99 says: Mar 26, 2012 8:55 PM

    Agents are for the players! Not supposed to be no agent team relationship. Going to have to actually negotiate or your going to have 0 rings like you have now!

  37. backindasaddle says: Mar 26, 2012 9:23 PM

    “If, on the other hand, working with agents instead of against them can sometimes be helpful to teams, and if that’s what the Chargers’ division rivals in Denver just did in the Manning chase, it’s easy to see why the Chargers would be disgruntled right now.”
    _________________________________________________________

    Manning made the choice to go with the Broncos. Point blank. Had nothing to do with the agent. That is where Manning chose to go.

    The comments by Spanos and Smith are dead on. The Patriots famously gave Tom Condon a big fat plate hard balled crow to eat when they wouldn’t cave in to his demands on the Ben Watson rookie contract. That was beautiful because Condon figured HE was going to break the Patriots and the Pats just dug in and would not let the sleazy agent dictate to them. I remember when it was going on and I loved it when the Pats won and Condon threw a hissy-fit.

  38. jamesjenia says: Mar 28, 2012 10:55 AM

    San Diego (more accurately- The CHARGERS) will never Win a Super Bowl as long as A.J. Smith and Spanos are there.

    That is the truth, everyone who’s been a fan for the last decade knows this to be true.

    They can use any “Excuse” they want, or “Blame” anyone (Agents) they want … The Bottom Line is …

    They will never pay to field a team that can actually Win a Super Bowl.

    And since “The Bottom Line(Profit)” is obviously far more important to them then winning a Super Bowl for the Fans …

    Well, You do the math.

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