WASHINGTON -- Two sports agents, including one who represented a handful of Ravens in the 2000 Super Bowl season, accused the National Football League Players Association yesterday of unfairly barring them.
Sports agent Steve Weinberg, a Baltimore native now living in Dallas, appeared at a congressional hearing and said through an attorney that the players union wrongly decertified him in 2003.
His attorney, Lawrence Friedman, told a House Judiciary subcommittee that the players union appeared to want to punish Weinberg because the agent was "an outspoken critic" of NFLPA practices.
Weinberg represented 42 players - including then-Ravens Spencer Folau, Kyle Richardson, Lional Dalton and Keith Washington - before being told by the union he could no longer negotiate player contracts. The union accused him of diverting assets to an offshore trust during a dispute with a business partner, and collecting a fee prematurely from former Redskins running back Stephen Davis.
Under its collective bargaining agreement with the league, the NFLPA has authority to regulate and discipline agents.
Friedman and another agent - Carl Poston, who is serving a two-year suspension - told the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law that the union isn't giving accused agents fair hearings.
Poston, who did not appear because he is recovering from knee surgery, submitted written testimony saying the NFLPA has created a system "that is unconstitutionally unfair."
New York Giants linebacker LaVar Arrington, a client of Poston's appearing at the hearing on the agent's behalf, said he was concerned that Poston was being denied his "right to represent me as an athlete." During a break, committee members and their staffs posed for pictures with Arrington, who wore a brown, pinstriped suit.
Poston was suspended for two years earlier this year for his role in a contract dispute between Arrington and the Washington Redskins.
Although the NFLPA allows disciplined agents to appeal to a "neutral arbitrator," Arrington said that the arbitrator is union-selected and may not be impartial.
But NFLPA general counsel Richard A. Berthelsen told the panel that arbitrator Roger Kaplan has "decided hundreds of player-agent disputes over fees and other matters, and has ruled in favor of agents far more often than not."
Weinberg recently filed a $36.7 million lawsuit against the union and others claiming he is being denied his right to "earn a living at his chosen profession."