Dear Mr. Peterson: Your Agent is a Bonehead
July 29, 2004 at 12:00 AM
Dear Mr. Peterson,
I don't know exactly what your agents have done to you. Perhaps injected you with some kind of undetectable drug that makes you forget your own convictions. Perhaps it's a simple case of brainwashing. Maybe your agents radiated enough stupidity that it somehow permeated your skull and made you lose sight of everything you said before this summer. Whatever the reason, training camp is only a short time away and there is one question that keeps jumping around in my mind like a pre-op Bill Grammatica. What is wrong with you? The typically stingy 49ers are offering you the largest contract in team history (a history that includes Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Joe Montana, Ken Norton Jr., and Ronnie Lott). They have offered you a contract that will make you one of the highest paid linebackers in the NFL today and one of the highest paid in NFL History (37.8 Million over 6 years with a 15.5 mil signing bonus). So what's the problem? Given all that has transpired this summer, it seems to me that you have one option left in order to salvage your season: dump your agent, Kevin Potson.
From what your agents are saying the problem is guaranteed money. I can understand that how this would be an issue. Players want to be paid as much as they can in guaranteed money because contracts in the NFL are built to be broken. Looking at the bonus the 49ers are offering, it looks like they are stepping up to the plate with a solid bonus. They are offering you 15.5 million while Brian Urlacher received 13 million in 2002, Ray Lewis received 19 million in 2002, and LaVar Arrington received 20 million in 2003. The thing about Arrington's deal is that the bonus was split over two payments. 15.5 up front and 4.5 million in 2006. If Arrington is not with the team in 2006, he never sees the second half of the bonus money. Plus, both the Arrington and Lewis deals are longer than yours (8 and 7 years respectively.)
So really, would be paid like one of the top three linebackers in the NFL. Again, I don't see a problem here. You are one of the top three linebackers in the league. Sooner or later you have to see through the crap your agents are feeding you and realize that you are an amazing and versatile athlete; but you have yet to prove you can single-handedly carry a team to the Super Bowl, like Ray Lewis, the only linebacker with a more lucrative contract.
Your agents continually cite the fact that you are versatile enough to play corner and safety. Thus, they say, you should be paid like Champ Bailey or (because of your importance) like Peyton Manning. Perhaps the Potsons don't watch much football, but you area a linebacker. You played corner and safety in a game where injuries forced reshuffling in the defensive backfield. Being versatile does not mean you "transcend your position" as your loopy agent suggests. Be honest with yourself, could you cover Marvin Harrison for a full game and contain him? Could you even contain a mediocre receiver like Dez White for more than 3 seconds? Contending that you should be paid like Champ Bailey is like saying 2 plus 2 is 22. It makes sense only to those who view things superficially with a warped sense of reality.
Holding out helps no one. It only serves to hurt the organization you supposedly care about. The 49ers have already said they will not budge from their current proposal. Your agent and the organization haven't spoken since spring. The 49ers believe they are offering you a fair contract, and I would have to agree with them. What's changed so much from just a few months ago anyway, when you were lavishing praise on the 49ers organization saying things like "From right then I knew that San Fran was a great place for me with great tradition..." and "It's a blessing to be mentioned as the franchise tag. It's an honor..." Now, all of a sudden, you're going to hurt your team and let your teammates down because your agents don't watch enough football to know the difference between a quarterback and a linebacker?
Not only are you contradicting yourself by holding out, but you are also hurting your team. Willy Robinson is implementing new schemes, new packages and new terminology that will help propel the above average defense from last year into a top ten defense that shuts down opponents week in and week out. The time missed at this juncture of the season is crucial. You can't expect to report to the team on Friday and play Sunday.
Don't you think it's a little odd that 3 of the 5 major holdouts this season are clients of your agent's firm? Does it seem odd that franchises consider passing up on talented rookies because the Potson brothers represent them? Doesn't that say something to you about who represents you? The writing is on the wall; your agents are the new plague of the Agent business.
Maybe a measly sportswriter like myself knows nothing of the complexities of NFL contracts and negotiations. But what I see is simply a very fair contract proposal with over 16 million in guaranteed money that averages 6.3 million a year. I see a team that needs you to be there for every snap in order to elevate the game of the defense. I see new defensive wrinkles being implemented without your presence. I see other stars that hold out for prolonged periods of time try and come back, miss assignments, and get hurt. I also see a team in flux that must shed it controversy and unite under a unified banner resolute on recreating a dynasty.
Your agents are boneheads. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you and the 49ers can get on with the task at hand: proving all of those power rankings wrong.
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