The League

Peter Schaffer
NFL Agent

Peter Schaffer

Agent and professor of sports law

More Fame More Problems


As a sports agent/attorney for over 20 years, I have seen and heard of just about every possible distraction a professional athlete experiences in their careers both on and off of the field. It seems that the greater the celebrity the greater the distractions.

Most of the distractions are not as readily apparent to the casual observer or fans as dating an international celebrity, and are never aired publicly. These include family members asking/demanding loans, tickets, cars etc., dueling love interest and over zealous entrepreneurs pitching the latest and greatest investment. The reality is that with more fame and fortune comes more responsibility and critique.

Everyone in Denver remembers the public outrage when one of the local newspapers published the Halloween candy selection that John Elway distributed each year. Players and their support networks have to learn what kind of distractions the players can and cannot deal with and then make sure that they do not exceed that level.

The question: How Much of a Distraction Are Celebrity Girlfriends? is a double-edged sword. On one hand, a player has to deal with his private life becoming a public matter, having his picture splashed all over the newspapers and magazines, and his every move monitored, dissected and discussed. The fans want to know more about their heroes than the common folks and when the heroes become romantically involved with other heroes the interest geometrically increases. On the other hand, dating a person who has similar stresses, distractions, and public obligations can be comforting.

Players also seem to have an innate ability to create the amount of media attention they want. If a player has a celebrity love interest and they attempt to live a normal, quiet existence -- Greg Norman and Barry Sanders comes to mind -- then the public attention will be minimized. However, it's the athletes/celebrities who enjoy the notoriety, and use that relationship to increase their exposure, that suffer headaches and distractions. Mike Tyson and Robin Givens are examples of this.

At the end of the day, a player will be judged on how he or she performs on the field and how they carry themselves off of the field. Who they decide to become involved with will have little effect on their overall success or failure. The players who stay grounded, have solid support networks and appreciate how blessed they are that anyone even cares who they are dating will always succeed. The ones who don't, will not.

By Peter Schaffer  |  September 11, 2008; 1:20 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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