Former Dolphins coach Nick Saban got on his high horse yesterday at the SEC’s media day to cry and moan about agents who provide illegal benefits to college players. The NFL has largely sidestepped the issue, pointing out the players’ association registers and oversees agents. NFLPA Executive Director De Smith is engaging in some empty saber-rattling about cracking down on offending agents. But really, how likely are players to tighten the reins on the very same guys that got them paid?
Some well-intentioned, but misguided, souls have suggested that the NFL adopt a policy to discipline players subsequently found to have accepted some dirty, dirty scrill from agents. But why oh why, you ask, would the NFL voluntarily adopt a problem that has plagued college sports since its infancy? PFT suggests that “the league has a strong incentive to avoid the alienation of the men like Saban who preside over pro football’s free farm system.”
I’ve got to call bullsh1t on that theory. If Saban wasn’t in Tuscaloosa, then some other jackass in a headset would be running the show. The players are the commodity– college coaches are essentially minor league scouts. There’s no need for the league to curry these egomaniacs’ favor by doing their jobs for them.
Another reason why this is a horrible, horrible idea: the league already has enough methods of keeping players under a microscope without introducing a whole new layer of scrutiny. Think about it Vince Young got called on the carpet for punching a loudmouth hater at a strip club. What kind of horseflop was that? That’s EXACTLY the kind of guy NFL players should be punching. Not pregnant girlfriends; not middle-age guys named Irving working at mid-sized financial planning firms. Giving the league another cudgel to wield against players will do nothing to contribute to the quality of the game.
Lastly, PFT suggests that such rules “could go a long way toward deterring some of the kids who have in the past pocketed money without fear of any consequence.” If getting stripped of a national title and probably a Heisman isn’t sufficient disincentive for players, how is an outside chance of a slap on the wrist in the future going to change anything? College football is FUBAR. The last thing the NFL needs to do is wade into that hot mess.
“These agents,” Saban asked yesterday, “how are they any different than a pimp?” While I don’t have time to fully address the question, I will say that for one, Nick, an agent won’t throw you through a plate-glass window if you try to sneak out without paying for your BBBJ. [ Obvious exception: Drew Rosenhaus. ]
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