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Who is the Most Hated Man in Professional Sports?

Honesty, Humility and Hunger. When ber sports agent, Carl Poston came to campus last Monday he cited “three Hs” as guiding his vision. Remarkable words from a man that has been vilified in the media for sky-rocketing salaries and the lack of loyalty between fans and players. Agents are often the scapegoats for all that ails professional sports today and Poston and his partner-brother, in particular, are easy targets because of the enormous success they’ve had. Highlights include:

Negotiating contracts with an aggregate value over $1 billion for 100+ clients
Penny Hardaway: $70 million/7-years
Lavar Arrington: $80 million/8-years
Ty Law: $50 million/7-years

Partnering with Nike to launch the iconic Lil’ Penny campaign in the mid-90’s

Being named to Sports Illustrated’s “Top 100 Most Influential Minorities in Sports”

Success, however, hasn’t made Poston less controversial. During his hour-long talk one even detected a perverse sense of pride in the notoriety he’s achieved from his more divisive contract negotiations. Patriot fans will never forgive him for the departure of All-Pro safety, Lawyer Milloy, on the eve of the 2003-04 season. Critics called his contract demands on the behalf of Milloy “unreasonable”, and said he was “unwilling to work with the team.” Poston, however, has a different perspective. His is an uncommonly ruthless and competitive world. He dismisses the beat writers who argue that he should be thinking about larger, over-arching issues when he negotiates – the financial health of the team, the salary-cap, fan’s desire to maintain a bond with their players, etc. Poston is unapologetic: his loyalty is to his client, and to his client alone. Everything else is “just part of business.” After all it’s his job “to be tough and to look after the interests of his players.” If he doesn’t, who will? The owners? C’mon.

It’s not a completely greedy capitalist world out there, though. For those ex-bankers and consultants looking to do something personally fulfilling for a change, Poston seemed remarkably upbeat about the personal side of his industry. When he entered the business, one question bothered him: Why are so many athletes making millions of dollars a year and retiring broke at age 35? He quickly learned that education, was just as important to his job as negotiation. “Athletes weren’t dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s. There was no planning. Conceptually, guys didn’t realize that all of this bling bling, wasn’t going to last.” Poston sounds like a proud papa when he describes clients (many who started out broke) being set for life, and having the ability to give their children opportunities they never had.

Perhaps being hated isn’t so bad, after all…

January 24, 2005
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