Plenty of agents pay players in order to induce them to hire said agents. Not many plead guilty in court to doing so.
According to the Associated Press, former NFL agent Terry Watson resolved pending felony charges in North Carolina with a guilty plea on 13 different counts; in exchange, a felony count for obstruction of justice was dismissed. Watson received a suspended sentence of six-to-eight months and probation for 30 months. He also will pay a $5,000 fine.
Watson was accused of providing $24,000 in cash and travel accommodations for former UNC players Robert Quinn, Greg Little, and Marvin Austin in 2010, in violation of North Carolina law.
“Years ago when this all began, people in the athlete agent industry scoffed at us for looking into these cases,” North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall said in a statement, via the AP. “They said, ‘This is how it works and you can’t change it.’ But today, everyone in that business knows that when you come to North Carolina, you had better follow the law. And if you don’t, we can and we will enforce the law.”
Paying players has become a way of life for multiple NFL agents, with others who had resisted eventually adopting a “when in Rome” approach because of the advantage that cheating provides to the cheaters. (Which explains pretty much every instance of cheating.) Some agents avoid breaking NFLPA rules and/or violating the law by using “marketing guarantees,” which gives the player an advance against his future endorsement earnings — and which often forces the player to show up at every strip-mall autograph signing possible in order to earn the money that satisfies the cash he received up front.
Watson left the business in 2013, after the charges were filed and the NFLPA removed his certification.