While it's still relatively early in the existence of Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports, there are strong indications that this agency won't suffer the same fate as Master P's failed attempt at sports representation.
When Jay-Z first announced in 2013 the creation of Roc Nation, the natural inclination was to compare it to Master P’s No Limit Sports Management, which famously helped negotiate Ricky Williams’ rookie contract in 1999. Both were attempts by rappers to join the lucrative but potentially treacherous world of sports negotiations.
And while No Limit never took off, Roc Nation could have hardly asked for a better start. Some of the biggest stars from across all sports -- Kevin Durant, Robinson Cano, Skylar Diggins, to name a few -- have signed with Roc Nation.
And now the agency has added another superstar who is playing well and in line for a huge contract after the season. Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, a 2013 Pro Bowler who is tied for seventh in the NFL with six receiving touchdowns this year, has signed with Roc Nation.
Making the move all the more intriguing is that it was reportedly against the wishes of team owner Jerry Jones. In fact, Jones reportedly talked Bryant out of switching agents over the summer.
Dez Bryant wanted to change agents over summer and was talked out of it by Jerry Jones. He didn't feel personal connection to Eugene Parker.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) November 2, 2014
From Bryant's perspective the move make sense. Roc Nation has negotiated enormous contracts for Robinson Cano and Victor Cruz. Bryant, whose five-year, $11.8 million rookie deal ends after this season, should be in line for a serious windfall.
Bryant's signing, however, renews concerns among management and other agents about Roc Nation's increasing muscle.
Dez Bryant latest to sign with Jay Z's Roc Nation. Top agent just texted: "There's another one. Hope he doesn't like any of my guys"
— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) November 2, 2014
Even mega-agents like Drew Rosenhaus and Scott Boras have lost clients to Roc Nation (although one, Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown, returned to Rosenhaus after only a few months). Rob Gronkowski once joked about dropping Rosenhaus for Jay-Z.
"It's very different to be the creator of the umbrella versus those who stand under it," Boras said after one of his clients, Cano, left him for Roc Nation. He said that negotiating a huge contract for Cano wasn't necessarily a big accomplishment because Cano is one of the best players in baseball.
"When you're bringing the prettiest girl to the prom, you don't really pay attention to who he's dancing with, unless it's a very unusual step," Boras said.
For Bryant and other athletes, the possibilities offered by Roc Nation go well beyond the field. The marketing and media opportunities offered by the agency and its partner, CAA, are hard to beat.
"I feel like it fits me," Bryant said Sunday. "It fits what I'm trying to do, what I'm trying to accomplish in life. I want to be the best that I can possibly be. It ain't about a contract. It's about me branding myself and being an icon for these kids. I love kids and they look up to me.
"I come from dirt -- point blank, period -- and every day I'm writing my story and it's getting better. I feel like they were the best choice for me. They can help me get to where I want to be. That's what it is."