Football players now engage in elaborate training in the period between their last game and the NFL scouting combine in February, and the agent takes on the financial and advisory role in the process. As recently as 2005, I was asked by a father what my training program was. My response: “From 1989 to 2005 I represented the very first player in the first round of the draft -- impossible to be selected higher -- and they all trained themselves at their universities with the help of the staff." He responded, “Then we can't select you.”

And a new era had begun.

Elaborate training facilities and programs have arisen to meet the need. Players usually are focused on nutrition, strength and weight training, and prepared for the combine drills in January and February. I monitor these sessions closely to chart the progress physically and skill set wise of a client. A state-of-the art program transforms weary bodies into RoboAthletes and the improvement is marked. We prepare players for the 20-minute interview process with teams using a former NFL exec. We give them our own intelligence test so they are prepared. One year I had a player score a 11 on the Wonderlic. We then had him tutored in test-taking and the next time he scored a 27.

We use a physician to monitor their injuries. The NFL is obsessed with speed. It is the variable that vaults or diminishes draft status most dramatically. So we hired a speed coach who produced the fasted player at the combine by having him "count steps." We also had a player set the record one year for most 225-pound lifts.

Previous Column: How To Be A Great Sports Agent

The first “second season” events are team bowl games. Then the focus turns to All-Star games like the Senior Bowl. For a week players are scouted daily at practices as well as the game. Playing in these games is voluntary. Attendance at the Scouting Combine is mandatory. Every single team executive, coach, asst. coach and scout is present in Indianapolis for the week. Players are weighed, measured, tested for banned substances and given intelligence tests. They receive the most thorough physical exams imaginable -- if they have a tender spot, multiple physicians will put stress on it.

Players choose whether to compete in physical drills including ...
1) 40-yard dash
2) Vertical leap
3) Horizontal leap
4) Lifts at 225 pounds
5) Lateral drills

Players can choose to display their position talents in workouts. For a quarterback, a session throwing to receivers is the "Super Bowl of Testing."

The action then returns to college campuses in March and early April for “Pro Scouting Days”. The same tests and drills given at the Combine are administered all over again. Clubs especially interested in a player may return to campus for a specialized workout. Teams compile their Draft Boards by position and by overall athletic rating and prepare to draft.

The key to being drafted high is to have an individual franchise "fall in love” with a player and desire him specifically, not simply to feel that he would be a good player for someone. All of scouting is a search for enough teams with real passion for a player to drive him to the top of the draft. Having the most accurate assessment of how a player is rated throughout the process is necessary to be flexible strategically. No one tells a draftee which scouting events he should perform at and in what order. The agent is crucial in understanding the process and which activities will show the player at his best.

Making sure that a player is courteous and cooperative and interacts well with teams is important. Character is key. A team is risking guaranteed bonus and a damaging hit to their salary cap if a player has behavioral problems or motivation problems. The player is applying for employment and the burden is on him to explain his past and deal with whatever concerns a team has. He also has to be rigorously disciplined in avoiding any incidents of any kind in this period.

Teams will be in touch with the agent in the weeks leading up to the draft, so it ought not be a surprise who is interested. If a team gets a sense that the agent is planning a difficult negotiation, it can point them in a different direction.

Successfully guiding a client through this process builds a bonding and confidence in the relationship that will last a lifetime. The ultimate question on the night before the draft is: "Was there one single thing we could have done more to have enhanced the chance for this hopeful player to be drafted any higher." If the answer is negative, get ready to enjoy the single most exciting, dramatic moment of a players’ career to that point. A day like no other.

-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @SteinbergSports.

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By Steve Silver
The Legal Blitz

Major League Baseball filed a seemingly innocuous lawsuit Friday that could actually have an enormous impact on several teams' lineups do to civil discovery rules. On March 22, MLB sued the now-shuttered clinic Biogenesis and its operators, including embattled "Dr." Anthony Bosch, in Miami Dade County Circuit Court accusing them of scheming to provide banned performance-enhancing drugs to players in violation of their contracts.

At first this lawsuit appears laughable. MLB actually has the nerve to sue someone else because its players use performance enhancing substances. The Complaint alleges that “soliciting Major League Players to purchase or obtain PES, and/or by selling, supplying and/or otherwise making available PES to Major League Players” caused MLB to suffer unspecific economic damages including, “the costs of investigation, loss of goodwill, loss of revenue and profits and injury to its reputation, image, strategic advantage and fan relationships.”

I’m pretty sure having Bud Selig turn a blind eye to steroid and PES use for decades is what ruined MLB’s image. Or the four-hour games, lack of instant replay, and the creation of winning monarchies by blowing up the notion of a salary cap. But I digress.

What makes this lawsuit so huge is that MLB filed it solely in hopes of obtaining the documents Bosch reportedly turned over to various news outlets. Specifically, MLB wants to use civil discovery avenues to access the following:

In January and February of 2013, the Miami New Times, a free Miami-area newspaper, published what it claimed were excerpts from handwritten records maintained by Defendant Bosch while he was affiliated with Biokem and/or BioGenesis, which the Miami New Times stated it had received from a confidential source. Other media outlets, including Yahoo! Sports and ESPN.com, have published additional records purportedly maintained by Bosch. Upon information and belief, the excerpts published by the Miami New Times and others -- which reflect Defendants’ sales of PES to Major League Players -- are authentic business records, and come from personal notebooks and records maintained by Bosch while he was affiliated with Biokem and/or BioGenesis.

By filing this lawsuit, if Bosch has not already destroyed the documents then he is now on notice to preserve his business records for discovery or face an adverse inference jury instruction and/or sanctions.

These documents could potentially implode many MLB rosters. Among those implicated by these missing documents are New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, outfielder Melky Cabrera of the Toronto Blue Jays, Washington pitcher Gio Gonzalez, Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon, Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz and San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal. Most have denied the Biogenesis link, although Rodriguez has admitted using performance-enhancing drugs earlier in his career and Colon, Cabrera and Grandal were each suspended for 50 games last year for testing positive for elevated testosterone levels.

The lawsuit also contends that former star Manny Ramirez, who is now signed to play for a team in Taiwan, obtained a prohibited substance from Bosch in 2009 that ultimately resulted in Ramirez’s 50-game suspension by MLB when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The suit marks the first time MLB has gone on the record saying Ramirez tested positive for the female fertility drug HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin.

It is hard to imagine that MLB really cares about whatever dollars it can recover from this now defunct clinic. The documents linking MLB players to Bosch are vital to MLB’s continued investigations into the PES rumors. Most likely they are gone, but this is a very creative strategy by MLB’s lawyers to use subpoenas, depositions, and discovery rules to their advantage.

THE OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER OF BASEBALL v. BIOGENESIS OF AMERICA, LLC

-- Follow Steve Silver on Twitter @thelegalblitz.

More Stories from The Legal Blitz :
-- Recent Lawsuit Ruling Brings NCAA Athletes One Step Closer To The Money They Deserve
-- Copyright Battle Brewing Between NASCAR And YouTube
-- The Dumbest Lawsuit Ever
-- Flacco Sacked By Hefty Taxes

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Tags:
Bud Selig

From schoolyards to office buildings all across this country, millions of people are involved in basketball predictions as the circus known as the NCAA tournament has come to town. Sixty-eight college teams compete for the right to advance to the Final Four and be crowned champion of the U.S. in men’s basketball.

The games have begun and the economic bonanza will follow. Billions of dollars will change hands among bettors, and the NCAA and its schools will be infused with new riches.

The first source of revenue is broadcast rights. In 2010 CBS Sports and Time Warner‘s Turner Broadcasting signed a $10.8 billion deal to broadcast every game of the men's basketball tournament for 14 years. Time Warner and CBS will split coverage until 2024. That is more than $770 million per year, which is an increase of 1,877 percent more than the past 30 years. In 1982, CBS paid just under $50 million for three years of rights. Adding the inflation value to the CBS 1982 package, the comparison is $39 million a year compared to $770 million.

The NCAA itself will bring in $777 million this year, 90 percent of which comes from the tournament television and other media rights. Last year $478 million of the revenue went back to Division I schools, with more than a third of that based on the schools' success in the tournament.

In 2011, according to Kantar Media, CBS and Turner were able to generate $738 million in advertising for the tournament. GM, the top advertiser, spent almost $58 million in advertising the March Madness event. The cost of an ad for the championship game was $1.24 million. This year, the expansion in content platforms allows fans to watch the games on live streaming on their computer, mobile phone, tablets and cellular phones. Last year, there was a $3.99 fee to watch all the games on the March Madness app. The high point in viewership for
the tourney was more than 30 million fans that watched the 1992 final game
 featuring Michigan versus Duke.

The universities benefit mightily in the exposure. When Virginia Commonwealth University made the 2011 Final Four, donations to its athletic department increased 376 percent and overall giving to the school by 46 percent. Alums remember their university allegiance and feel pride when their team is involved. After Butler University made it to the finals in 2010, its applications increased 41 percent and the value of the publicity and exposure it received was estimated at $639 million.

Coaches have bonuses in their contracts for making the tournament -- Florida's Billy Donovan receives $37,500.
The host city will be a beneficiary. More than 75,000 fans packed the Superdome last year in New Orleans. That marked the first hosting by the
 Superdome of the event since Hurricane Katrina. The mayor’s office estimates that the games infused $134 million into the city.
 Regional host cities also benefit.

And then there's gambling. The Final Four is second only to the Super Bowl in amount of wagers placed in Las Vegas with some $80 million wagered. That is an infinitesimal percentage of the overall dollars wagered as this event reaches far beyond hard-cord college basketball fans to reach into every sector of American life. Estimates are that some $12 billion will change hands over the course of the tournament.

And what do the actual participants in this event–the players receive? They have a scholarship that at a school like Duke, costs around $228,000 for four years. Of course the most talented players in college basketball attend school for one year now and then enter the pros.

Is the system fair to players? You decide.

*Sources from this article came from Darren Rovell, Brad Turtle and Ben Steverman.

-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @SteinbergSports.

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Dear Brian Urlacher,

We first met in the fall of 2000, when you were a mere rookie out of New Mexico and I was a mere freshman at Northwestern University. Drafted ninth overall in that year's NFL Draft, you quickly emerged as a beloved icon within my dorm on Sheridan Road and for Chicago Bears fans across the country.

You were the personification of everything special about the Midwest, the consummate general of Soldier Field, and the better half of every Bromance [1] with your teammates. Unfortunately, last Wednesday, Chicagoans from the South Side to the Gold Coast learned in 140 characters that our beloved leader is departing.


But, Brian, your departure is distinct from the other icons to whom Bears fans have wished farewell. Dick Butkus (1973), Walter Payton (1988) and Mike Singletary (1993) did not leave Chicago. These icons left the game. Whether you, the management or the McCaskeys are to blame is irrelevant. What matters here is that you will be missed, and that you always will be welcomed back with caramel popcorn from Garrett’s, cheese fries at Wiener Circle and a pint in Wrigleyville. Here's why:

Your Numbers

Brian, your No. 54 jersey sold faster than anyone else's first and foremost because of your results. In your rookie season, you finished with 123 combined tackles, eight sacks and two interceptions. Following the Bears' "Defense is Offense" Super Bowl run of 2006, you reincarnated the Monsters of the Midway with 123 combined tackles (yes, 123 again) and five interceptions, all highlighted by the epic Brett Favre pick-six at Soldier Field.

During a 13-year stretch, you set Chicago records for 1,779 stops in a career and 151 combined tackles in a single season.

Your Leadership

Brian, in the 189 regular and postseason games you played in a Bears uniform, you personified leadership. You hid injuries from doctors to remain in the game, and in 2012 you admitted on HBO's Real Sports that, "If I have a concussion these days, I'm going to say something happened to my toe or knee just to get my bearings for a few plays ... First of all we love football. We want to be on the field as much as we can be."

In snow and sleet, you were resilient, selfless and compassionate –- the most cherished values in the Land of Lincoln.

Your Bromance(s)

Brian, your teammates adored you more than Paul Rudd sweated Jason Segal in “I Love You, Man.” Charles Tillman and you shared public displays of affection before Brad Pitt and George Clooney made a "mancrush" mainstream.

Shucks, Brian, you even dated women we read about in Us Weekly at a checkout line in Dominicks.

You criticized yourself before the Bears secondary, you hosted team barbeques and you even testified in court on behalf of a teammate. Your loyalty was second to none, and your sense of humor echoed Chicago’s DNA. You could have harmonized with Jake and Elwood of the Blues Brothers or shared a drink with John Goodman and Chris Farley on "Bill Swerski's Superfans" at Ditka's.

***

Brian, since the negotiations went sour last week, I reconnected with old friends from college regarding our shared memories of you. Every Sunday you helped us forget all that was horrible in our world –- from "dimpled" chads in the 2000 presidential election to a Bears offense quarterbacked by Rex Grossman. As my roommate Mike once told me, you were the one Chicago athlete our girlfriends could date.

Brian, my story is merely one of millions shared by Bears fans –- young or old, White Sox or Cubs fans, forever faithful or recently converted. In the past week, you made me reminiscent for a city I haven't seen in years, and residents of Illinois reminiscent for an athlete, management and ownership it hasn’t seen in years[2].

Whoever you decide to bless next with your bald head and big smile, please remember your Bromance with the Bears ... and know that signing with the Packers (or Vikings) will make you a Frenemy.

We will miss you.

-- Sweet "Home" Chicago.

-- Evan Fieldman is the Vice President of Business Development & Legal Affairs at ThePostGame. Born in Framingham, Mass., he is a Celtics, Red Sox and (since the fall of 2000) a Bears fan.

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Traditional agentry has too often been lampoonish, cartoonish, greedy and destructive to clients and sports itself. Some of the basic concepts that are slavishly adhered to are just wrong. The battle in sports ought not be labor versus management. The critical challengers for the NFL are Major League Baseball, the NBA, Home Box Office, Walt Disney World, and every other form of discretionary entertainment spending.

Sports are not like the need for food on the table or transportation to work. They require fans to invest time, emotion and money on viewership, attendance, and purchase of related products. The job of representing athletes doesn't work maximally unless agents see themselves as Stewards of the Sport. The focus needs to be on building brands, raising popularity and interests and creatively exploring every ancillary revenue stream and possibility.

Viewed this way, any individual player negotiation that turns acrimonious and hostile in the press is self-destructive. With the country in its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, fans will not empathize with an athlete angry because he's only being offered $10 million instead of the $15 million he believes he deserves.

Depending on method of calculation, the median family income in this nation is $51,143, which means any offer more than several hundred thousand dollars seems enormous. Worse is the spectre of millionaires fighting billionaires in collective bargaining. Missing any games due to labor impasse hurts sports and brand. As P.T. Barnum said, "The show must go on."

At the point where my practice had superstars for many teams throughout a league like the NFL, I approached owners and said that we need to be partners in building the brand. To truly compensate players the economics of the pie need to be as large as possible. With enough economic largesse, contract negotiations could be smooth and private, bringing value to both sides.

By putting yourself in the position of seeing the world the way an owner sees it, it becomes possible to contribute possibilities toward enhancing the bottom line: Exploding the television contracts, imagining every revenue flow that could come from a stadium, exploring every way that merchandising and use of social media could be enlarged.

There have been 619 players that have entered the free agency process in the NFL. The A+ superstars in football generally never become free agents. Irreplacable players have their contracts redone by teams before the final year so as to not risk losing them. In those few cases where team and player have such different perspectives as to what is fair, a team will use a franchise tag to stop the player from entering free agency.

It is only those players A- and below in value who are allowed to enter free agency. They are lucky and may get better contracts than more proven, productive stars. The auction bargaining mentality that gives players the only true leverage they will experience turns B+ players into A+ contracts.

The role of the agent in this process is profound. The first job is to contemplate the prospect of free agency in the negotiation of a prior contract. The goal is to time a player's maximum arc in respect to achievement and future promise at the point of complete contractual freedom. Knowing free agency is coming gives an agent ample time to research and anticipate who the most interested parties will be.

Injuries and other signings can alter the possibilities. Research into the coach, general manager, pay structure, and modus operandi of each team is vital.

Long before the process begins, the agent needs to focus a player on an introspective thought process designed to explore a player's deepest hopes and aspirations. They key is to have the player clear on what his own top values and priorities are. This is not generic, what fulfills one person may be different from another and what another player values is irrelevant in this discussion. It is all about pleasing a client. I ask them to prioritize the following values and considerations:

1) Short term financial gain
2) Long term economic security
3) Family
4) Geographical considerations: Weather, lifestyle, urbanization, proximity to home.
5) Profile
6) Endorsements
7) Legacy: Charity and community
8) Second career

And then it's the football issues:
1) Starting
2) Winning
3) Quality of coaching
4) System the team plays
5) Facilities
6) Teammates

Usually players are motivated by a combination of these factors but some things must be more important than others. It is only by listing the values that it is possible to evaluate the possibilities. Otherwise cognitive dissonance may take over, swinging from option to option back and forth -- this creates stress. An athlete could make any decision to relieve the stress.

Free agency in its early days allowed players a leisurely time to move from team to team and create leverage. The Jacksonville Jaguars and their executive Michael Huyghue changed the dynamic. They realized they could be shut out of signing any of the players they coveted at a position by player indecisiveness and travel. They created a new dynamic -- they targeted the few most critical players, invited them in on Day One of the process, offered a premium deal, and made it contingent on the player accepting it on that visit. Their offer was good enough that most players signed. The premiere money is available in the first few weeks and after that it dries up.

-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @SteinbergSports.

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The Final Four is a business. It is a big business with corporate sponsors, local hotels, restaurants, and yes, even ticket brokers, relying on it for a living. And, while we are watching the culmination of a three-week long dream run for college kids chasing their place in history, March Madness is an economic windfall for TV, corporations, powerful alumni organizations, and the local economy where the games are held. There is only one way the average fan can get tickets at a reasonable price:

Cinderella.

Here's why.

For all her charm, Cinderella doesn't "travel well." Schools like Butler don't travel well. Neither does VCU. Indiana, on the other hand, does travel well. What does that really mean? Teams that travel well have the ability to move big economic numbers. They sell out room blocks and buy ticket strips weeks and months in advance. Schools like North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA and Kansas have large national fan bases, deep in boosters and powerful alumni who travel wherever the team goes and gobble up tickets.

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Tags:
NCAAB, Tickets

In Part One of this series, I suggested that the increased size, speed and strength of today's NFL players are creating a dramatically more impactful and damaging set of collisions. We have known for years the devastation of these collisions. They wreck on every joint in the human body. It has become crystal clear that the effects of blows to the head affect emotions, memory, reasoning -- what it means to be human -- in frightening ways.

The ticking time bomb and undiagnosed health epidemic that is developing consists of the cumulative effects of millions of sub-concussive blows that are rarely recognized or treated. The potential reticence of parents to allow their children to play football at all, combined with the legal and insurance liability highlighted in current lawsuits, poses a long term threat to the game of football.

David Epstein wrote Thursday on SI.com that new studies reveal the deleterious effect of low-level hits. Epstein highlighted studies from the University of Rochester and Cleveland Clinic that showed elevated concentrations of the S100B protein in the blood streams of college football players that suffered subconcussive hits.

The presence of this protein is an indicator of brain injury. Antibodies rush to reject the unwanted protein

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