Kellen Clemens Sees Potential Conflict Of Interest

For plenty of NFL agents, conflicts of interest are a way of life.  Whether it’s the same agent representing two players vying to be the first overall pick in the draft or the same agent representing two players on the same team competing for the same position or the same agent representing the head coach and a star player who might no longer be worth his eight-figure salary, there are plenty of situations in which an agent necessarily can’t do as good of a job as he could for one client, due to the possibility that he’ll undermine the interests of the other client.
But, to date, the NFL Players Association has allowed such conflicts of interest to exist, largely unfettered.  And so it falls to the players to recognize the situation, and act accordingly.
To his credit, Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens realizes that his agent, Dave Dunn, has a potential conflict of interest as it relates to his representation of Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.
“It was something that I even thought about prior to the draft, something my wife and my family considered, because Dave [Dunn] has a lot of quarterbacks,” Clemens said Thursday.  “It’s not something that is concerning [to me] at this point.  I feel very confident in him, and Mark does as well.  They are going to handle their business between those two, and Dave and I will handle our business between he and I, and I am confident there won’t be any conflicts of interest.”
But, arguably, there already is a conflict of interest because every agent should want his client to be a starter — and should be doing everything he can to make the case for the player to start.
Clemens needs an agent who’ll be doing just that.  And Sanchez needs an agent who’ll do the same, especially since his contract will have a big-money one-time bonus triggered by participating in 35 percent of the snaps this year, of which Dunn will get a fee.
Dunn, however, has no choice but to keep his head low and his mouth shut.  So, neither guy will be getting the best possible representation.
It’s a conflict of interest.  And one of the two players should hire a new agent.
Though, on the surface, Dunn and his colleagues at Athletes First might not appreciate our decision to raise this point, Dunn likely would be relieved if Clemens decided to hire another guy, so that Dunn could then begin doing everything he can to ensure that Sanchez will be the Week One starter.

25 responses to “Kellen Clemens Sees Potential Conflict Of Interest

  1. Out of the 5 passes he was allowed to throw last year, one of them was an INT. Send him to Minnesota or Tampa. This guy is wretched

  2. Since when do agents decide who lines up out there? His agent has nothing to do with it. If Sanchez outplays Clemens then he’ll start no matter what his agent does.

  3. no johnny boy, no. agents decide who starts. players and coaches have nothing to do with it. if the teams don’t do what the agent says, his player boycotts everything, holds press conferences with Greta Van Sustern and forces the team to trade them to the (Jets, Bears, Ravens – add Bus Cook joke here…).

  4. Johnny Boy makes a great point – this post basically just addresses the agent’s best interest.
    Whatever Dave Dunn does, the best QB is going to be on the field (look no further than Denver, whose likely backup QB will be making 10x more than their starter). The only thing that matters to him is getting his clients the most money…. which has little to no effect on anything that is going to happen on the field.
    So yeah, he’ll make the most money if he pulls a Rosenhaus to get one client off of their current team to make more money with another team.
    But Rosenhaus is the devil, and I don’t like the devil. Except booze. And strippers. Dammit I love the devil.
    (Rosenhaus strikes again!)

  5. Wahhh, cry me a river. If he stopped playing like shit then no one would have to advocate for him. I’d see his point if he were in danger of being cut off the roster, but I don’t think the Jets would have been looking for a QB if he’d demonstrated any sign of hope in the past, similar to the situation with Drew Stanton in Detroit, although he’s never really even been given a chance in live action.
    Drew Breeze was in the same situation, and he’s done just fine. The agent can’t sell a bad product to the coaches. They know what they have in clemens and apparently aren’t impressed.
    Hell, even the teammates have been saying they expect Sanchez to sieze the job. that’s not a good sign when guys you’ve been in the same locker room with for 3+ years are expecting a rookie to beat you out. Ultimately, clemens needs to look in the mirror for the reason for his supposed “conflict” of interest. Wouldn’t be a conflict if he could actually play. Chad pennington got pushed out the door for less while he got handed the job a couple of years back.

  6. Yeah, I can see comments are already addressing the obvious:
    Whether an agent’s fiduciary responsibility to his or her client has anything to do with coaching decisions after a player has a binding contract with the team.
    I don’t think so. I’d analogize it to entertainment law where agents representing hollywood types routinely engage in less than arms length transactions between clients and other interested parties. It’s lightly regulated under state law but still very much allowable because a robust entertainment industry has a great deal of value, and state legislators have responded accordingly over time.
    Otherwise, how strict should the regulation be?
    Do you start regulating what positions an agent can represent? Do you start preventing a pro-bound player from picking who he wants to represent him because the prospective agent has a client on the team? What if it’s an O-line player? Should an agent only represent one tackle per team? One guard per team? One player per team? The agent can’t necessarily control what team drafts his client, so what if the team drafts his client Sanchez while he also has client Clemens? Should that agent have nothing to do with contract negotiations for Sanchez at that point?

  7. I know illiteracy is a big problem and so the responses so far shouldn’t surprise me.
    Mike didn’t say or even imply that the agent decides who starts and who doesn’t. He said the agent makes a case for the player. And when ONE agent is making the case for TWO players at the same position on the same team, it IS a conflict of interest.
    Whether Clemens sees it as a potential conflict or whether he feels there is no conflict is beside the point: it IS a conflict of interest.
    But Florio (and maybe a small minority of readers) seems to be the only guy who cares.

  8. so if every nfl player had a different agent we wouldn’t have to worry about this problem…

  9. You all are missing the point. The agent like a lawyer has a responsibility to advocate on behalf of his client. Part of that doing that might mean making the argument that he Clemens should play ahead of Sanchez or that either client should take some action that would be not be in his other client’s interest.
    Let me give you an example. It would be in Clemen’s best interest for Sanchez to hold out and sign a deal late as it would likely give the starting job to Clemens. This strategy of holding out for all he can get will also line the agent’s pockets at least in the short run. But such a strategy may hurt Sanchez or be against his desire to get into camp as soon as possible.
    I agree with Florio. He may belabor the point here in to many posts. But there is a conflict interest here. In regards to attorneys in situations where there may be hint of impropriety that might endanger the public trust or confidence the lawyer must withdraw representing both clients. Such dual representation with obvious conflicts of interest would never be allowed for lawyers and I see no reason why it should be allowed in football. At the very least players in such situations should be made aware of the problems and be given an option of signing some type of acknowledgment and waiver.
    The problem with football there is such a limited amount of clients it is inevitable there will many conflicts. More serious are the draft conflicts where one agent represents multiple top 10 draft picks.

  10. Agents can make all the ‘cases’ they want for their client to be the starter, it doesn’t have any effect on who actually becomes the starter. Non-issue…

  11. I agree with Florio here. When your agent is sitting there marketing one of his QBs (i.e. Sanchez) to sign with the same team as one of his other QB clients (Clemens), he’s pushing Clemens out and acting against Clemens’ best interests. Or put more simply, he’s honoring his duty to represent Sanchez at the expense of his duty to represent Clemens. That’s as pure a conflict of interest as I’ve ever seen.

  12. Fireman Ed says ‘the bigger point is”
    JETS= Just End The Season
    Happy 40th Jets fans!!

  13. Agents work for clients in many other fields besides sports. In those industries i could see your point because it’s a lot of politicking going on to get a client work. however, for sports agents, the players’ work speaks for itself. Maybe the relationships that these agents build over time with teams and front office personnel helps when trying to find a landing spot for guys, but I really don’t think coaches and front office people are going to stake their reputations on advocacy by the agent.
    Moreover, Clemens can fire Dunn at any point. i agree that there’s a conflict when these guys are pinning several different draft pick clients against each other, but in the league your level of play will generally equate to your financial success or failure, playing time, etc.

    The agent lobbies harder for Player A than Player B. Why? well, because he gets the idea that Player A is more valuable to the coaches. Lets say Player A and B have different agents. Player A is STILL more valuable to the coaches- it has nothing to do with the agent! The interests of the agent do not conflict because the value is determined by the coaches.
    The agent is simply there to get the player the best deal under a given set of circumstances- circumstances that have little to do with the agent and everything to do with the player and the value the coaches place on them.

  15. Zinn says;
    “It would be in Clemen’s best interest for Sanchez to hold out and sign a deal late as it would likely give the starting job to Clemens”
    This would be in Clemen’s best interest regardless of the agent situation.
    In court, the lawyer or judge because through their OWN actions they can manipulate the situation to serve themselves. Although football agents have a vested interest in the deal their clients get, the agents’ own actions are not the final word on the outcome. THERE IS NO CONFLICT OF INTEREST!

  16. The problem, as Mofo so well pointed out, is that this is impossible to regulate. The decision ultimately must lay with the player, for they should be able to pick whomever they want to represent them.
    If the argument is the 20 yr olds don’t understand the conflict of interest than it should be up to the Players Association, or some like group to put in programs that make NFL prospects/players aware and cognizant of the issue.
    Ultimately the player must have the ability to pick whomever they want to represent them.

  17. I’d love to see Clemens outplay Sanchez and get the start. Doubt he really even gets the chance though.

  18. I’ve never heard of an agent talking a team into starting his player. Bottom line, once the contract is signed it’s the players job to become the starter with what he does on the field.
    Doesn’t it serve Kellen better that his agent knows the conversations that are going on between the team and the other QB on the team? I’d say he’s better off in that position than having an agent that goes into negotiations blindly.

  19. For the guy who said Drew Brees was in the same situation.
    That’s not entirely correct. Brees and Marty Schottenheimer had the same agent – Tom Condon.
    Philip Rivers is represented by Jimmy Sexton.
    If owners can be subject to collusion lawsuits, based on conduct among multiple teams, then agents (and players) should be subject to similar restraints based on having multiple players (or coaches) with the same agent. It should work both ways.

  20. beselfish says:
    May 7th, 2009 at 10:26 pm
    Zinn says;
    “It would be in Clemen’s best interest for Sanchez to hold out and sign a deal late as it would likely give the starting job to Clemens”
    This would be in Clemen’s best interest regardless of the agent situation.
    In court, the lawyer or judge because through their OWN actions they can manipulate the situation to serve themselves. Although football agents have a vested interest in the deal their clients get, the agents’ own actions are not the final word on the outcome. THERE IS NO CONFLICT OF INTEREST!
    You miss the point here. It is Clemens best interest for Sanchez to holdout as long as possible. It is likely in Sanchez’s best interest for Sanchez to sign early. The agent here can holdout Sanchez and maximize his contract but do damage to Sanchez interests long term while at the same time helping Clemens. There is a potential conflict of interest here and in many other circumstances where the agent advocates for either player or works at obtaning marketing deals for either player.
    But in the specific example I gave you there is a potential conflict and if for whatever reason Sanchez does not sign quickly there is the appearance of a conflict of interest and a question as to who the agent is working for. In law one of the main purposes behind preventing dual representation is to make sure there is no appearance of a conflict and to protect the integrity of the atty-client relationship. The same thing should apply here and the player should clearly know who the agent is working for.
    Another reason is the exchange of confidential information. What the agent may know about one client might be beneficial if used by another client to leverage a better deal. In any agency relationship there should be trust and confidentiality. With no rules and regulations in regards to conflicts the principal agent relationship is compromised and the player ends up not getting all that he is paying for.

  21. Shouldn’t Clemens focus on whether he can actually play instead of acting like he is a pro bowl qb? I’m getting tired of his rants..

  22. I don’t think David Dunn gives a damn what Florio does or does not point out….

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