Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Drew Rosenhaus and Scott Boras: Pulling Back the Curtain on "Super Agents"

You know this really has to bother me if it's pulled me away from previewing the upcoming Major League Baseball season. Baseball is far and away my favorite sport plus our beloved San Francisco Giants might just be a contender in 2009. Suffice it to say I'm pretty stoked to be looking down the barrel of Opening Day.

But something must be said about the tendency of certain sportswriters to take their symbiotic relationship with the powers-that-be a little too far.

Alas, it is our own FOX Sports and a guy who's slowly grown on me who are the guilty parties this time. Mark Kriegel isn't my favorite writer out there, but I'm not as critical of him as I once was.

The guy's got a decent sense of humor and can convey it in writing on occasion, but those little video clips of him ranting about this or that are more effective as far as I'm concerned. Regardless, his latest written piece on Drew Rosenhaus is flat wrong.

There is nothing—I repeat, NOTHING—impressive about the contract Rosenhaus just secured from the Buffalo Bills for Terrell Owens.

Occasionally, you'll read the same line of reasoning coming from someone like Ken Rosenthal about Scott Boras—the agent is genius because he inked a gaudy and/or superficially outstanding contract for a severely flawed yet supremely talented athlete.

We should appreciate these two men for their negotiating acumen despite the ham-fists with which they handle insignificant little things like ethics and social accountability.

To be honest, I understand what the Kriegels/Rosenthals of the media world are trying to do—many of the most high-profile athletes in their respective sports are rep'd by Rosenhaus or Boras.

If an individual who makes a living off inside information blasts one of these agents and finds all his/her sources clamming up, that person is up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

However, heaping praise upon someone like Rosenhaus (unless it's for saving someone's life—gotta give the guy credit for that) for doing something that only hurts the National Football League is irresponsible.

And, like I said, just incorrect.

Rosenhaus didn't do anything impressive. He found a desperate team for a desperate player and got an incremental raise from TO's previous deal. So what?

For all his warts, Drew can always point to Owens' production and try to place the numbers in a vacuum. Hey, you see some of Bleacher Report's very own writers doing the very same thing so you know there are receptive ears for such spin.

Throw in an ancient owner who is looking for one more improbable lunge at the NFL's brass ring and you begin to see that Rosenhaus did exactly what he's always done—prey on the weak when the strong wise up to his product.

Notice all the playoff teams and serious contenders were first in line to dismiss even the notion of interest in Terrible Owens. The Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, and more—these teams all found the nearest press outlet and issue firm nyets with regards to TO.

Buffalo, on the other hand, is absolutely breathless to do something, anything to pump some life back into a franchise that defined being on the cusp of greatness only to become a punchline. To reward a fiercely loyal fanbase that deserves better than to be the laughing stock of professional football.

I've got nothing against Buffalo, but that's the unfortunate truth when you lose four straight Super Bowls.

Buffalo had no spark and Owens is exactly that—true, it's usually a spark that detonates the whole kit and caboodle. Again, an easy fact to obscure when pitching to an aging owner with the cap room to spare, a lack of other playmakers, and with a client that couldn't say no.

None of that was the product of anything Drew Rosenhaus did. And the exact same thing can be said of Scott Boras. So both these guys get max dollars.

So what?

Most of you reading this could do the exact same thing if you had the advantage of working without a single brain cell wasted on the repercussions of your actions. After all, it's not like Rosenhaus or Boras is working with lemons here—for whatever reprehensible failings guys like Manny Ramirez and Owens have, they are elite at certain aspects of their chosen professions.

It doesn't take a genius to emphasis Manny's bat or Owens natural ability while stripping away all the nonsense. Not to someone who is looking for a reason to believe that his/her organization will be the exception.

If you want to say there's a hard part to the equation, the only possible difficulty could be finding the compliant buyer.

But that ain't hard, especially when beggars can't be choosers—the Los Angeles Dodgers had no choice but to sign Ramirez and Terrell had no choice but to take the first attractive offer, which opened Rosenhaus' field of vision to any willing taker of 31.

Where's the challenge in that?

I loathe both those guys, but I wouldn't mind taking a flier if the Giants were lifeless or the 49ers hadn't already been burned by Owens. Seriously, what's the worst thing that could happen in that case?

If I'm a Bills fan and Terrell Owens destroys my team, how is that any worse than what happened this year, when Buffalo disintegrated for different reasons? And that's exactly what 90-year-old Ralph Wilson was probably thinking (or at least his proxies).

As for the raise—it was $800,000. That might sound like a lot if you're just picking up professional sports, but it isn't. Not even in this economy.

The undeniable fact of the matter is that both Scott Boras and Drew Rosenhaus are snake-oil salesmen. And they're not even really good ones since their products actually do some of the things as advertised i.e. they don't have to create the entire transaction out of thin air.

The only thing that makes them stand out is that their one and only concern is getting the biggest money to protect their massive egos—by hook or by crook. And they usually do it, even if it takes planting false rumors or bilking the vulnerable.

I'm still not impressed.

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