08 Jun 2004
by Bruce Allen
It hasn't been a good offseason for famous NFL agents the Poston brothers. They bungled the contract of Redskin linebacker LaVar Arrington, by not fully reading it before having their client sign it, costing him millions. Orlando Pace of the Rams publicly stated that what he wanted from the Rams and what the Postons were demanding were two very different figures. They've had the distinction of representing two of the most popular players in New England Patriots history, and having already gotten Lawyer Milloy out of town, they seem on a path to have the same happen with Ty Law. Law has consistently made headlines this offseason by demanding more money from the Patriots and even requesting a trade, release or buyout to get him out of his contract so that he can get more money. Recently Terrell Buckley, who had been represented by the duo, apparently worked out his own deal with the Patriots, not even using the Postons, and saving himself the representation fee he would've had to pay.
The Postons have been hurting in the Public Relations department. However, it seems that they realize this, and they have been on a campaign, both publicly and privately, to repair the damage that has been done. In Boston, one place where they have become publicly reviled, they have made a couple of appearances on local TV and radio programs, seeking to put a public face and good spin on their tactics. They are trying to make themselves appealing to local fans, for example by insisting that they want Ty Law to remain a Patriot. It seems they've also tried to get into the good graces of certain media members who can make them look good and say and write positive things about them.
In the Sunday NFL notes in the Boston Globe, Patriots beat writer Michael "Not David" Smith wrote first about the Terrell Buckley situationÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ spinning it to look like the Postons were good guys for letting Buckley negotiate his own deal with the Patriots. They "let" him do that? Who's the boss in that relationship? Buckley is the boss in the client/agent relationship, and if he wants to negotiate his own deal, he can do it without seeking the approval of the Postons. Smith then moved onto Ty Law, and how the cornerback will likely be in for mini-camp this weekend, and seemingly expressed understanding for the Patriots position by commenting on how large Law's cap number is this season and how tough it will be for the team to carry. Later in the piece, Smith worked in mentions of two other Poston clients, Reggie Williams and Kellen Winslow. Is it a coincidence? I don't think so. The entire column seemed to be little more than a Postons puff piece and infomercial.
I've been a big fan of Michael Smith since he joined the Boston Globe (Me too. - Ed.). He's been a breath of fresh air in many ways. However, I sense at times he's falling into some of the same patterns and developing some of the same unhealthy relationships that some of his Globe brethren have been known to do. Smith has been one of the few writers able to get consistent quotes from the Postons, and that's good reporting. But, while most other sportswriters have been hammering the Postons for mishandling clients and not reading contracts their clients sign, Smith seems to have aligned himself with them, and is determined to give them positive press whenever possible.
Smith is apparently not the only reporter the Postons might've tried to get into their corner this weekend. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com pointed out an article in the Charlotte Observer by Pat Yasinskas, who, after mentioning the Postons and their poor reputation, added the comment that negotiations with Panthers first round pick (and Postons client) Chris Gamble might not be so difficult. What prompted Yasinskas to write this bit is not clear, though Florio says that whispers around the league say that the Postons might've fed the information to Yasinskas in hopes of softening their image.
It's a curious situation. By convincing writers and media members to write positive things about them, what are the media people getting out this deal? Should the public have to try to decipher reports by football writers to see if what they say is true, objective coverage, or if it is being influenced by promises of information or other consideration from the subjects being discussed? You might be able to tell simply by looking at which articles have quotes from the Postons. They'll give quotes to those who will give them something: positive ink. Michael Smith has been one of the very few in Boston who has been able to regularly get quotes from the duo. Perhaps now it's becoming clear why that is.