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NFLPA chief referred lawyers to agent under union review

1/31/2013 10:22:07 AM
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NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith referred long-time former colleagues to defend Drew Rosenhaus during an NFLPA arbitration, Rand Getlin and Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports report.

That action has ruffled the feathers of multiple prominent agents who spoke on the condition of anonymity, expressing frustration at what they termed a significant conflict of interest. The agents have alleged that Smith’s referral – essentially aiding Rosenhaus in defending himself before an NFLPA arbitrator – is a clear example of Smith protecting an agent rather than impartially governing.

“It’s a major conflict of interest for the executive director of the NFLPA to be referring attorneys to Rosenhaus,” one agent said.

The paramount issue at hand is that the NFLPA may eventually have to sanction Rosenhaus in his case, which involves a dispute between the well-known agent and former employee Danny Martoe. Martoe was a longtime employee of Rosenhaus Sports Representation before being fired in 2012. He is now seeking more than $1 million in commissions and damages stemming from his work with Rosenhaus.

Union spokesman George Atallah confirmed that Smith referred attorneys to Rosenhaus, but noted that Smith regularly extends the courtesy of providing attorney referrals to others as well.

The fact that Smith assists others has not dispelled angst in parts of the agent community, largely because of the perception that the union is protecting Rosenhaus.

“He’s walking an extremely tight rope by referring an attorney friend of his to an agent in a situation like this,” another prominent agent said of Smith’s actions. “To me, there is no question that it’s an out-of-bounds move given his position as union president. Especially in a matter that’s going to be heard by the union.”

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