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Adam Hoff
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Adam Hoff

The co-author of The Football Uncyclopedia

Hire a Lawyer, Today

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Michael Crabtree is in trouble. He is in street clothes, on the outside looking in, while the San Francisco 49ers - the team holding his draft rights - are going 2-0 and looking every bit the sleeper in the NFC West. He's in trouble because he's not on the field and he's not going to be on the field anytime soon, due to his protracted holdout. This is a problem because it dramatically stunts his growth as an NFL wide receiver. There is an adage that says wide receivers break through during their third year in the league, but that idea is losing relevance fast due to the fact that more teams are going to the spread offense and are featuring three, four, and five wide receiver sets that allow rookies to get on the field.

In past years, rookie wide receivers would sit for the first year, find their way in year two, and then make a contribution by the third season. Now, they are getting their feet wet as rookies because so many wideouts get reps. This creates an accelerated growth cycle and allows wide receivers to emerge by year two and start competing for Pro Bowl berths, endorsements, and future contracts. Crabtree is missing out on all of this and putting himself behind the curve, which creates an inevitable problem when he starts getting compared to receivers from his draft class. Guys like Percy Harvin, Jeremy Maclin, and Kenny Britt are out there playing and getting better and they are going to lap Michael Crabtree.

So what should Crabtree do? The same thing anyone does when they get into trouble: hire a lawyer. The problem for Crabtree is that he's being represented by an agent - Eugene Parker - who has his own interests at heart rather than those of his client. For some reason that defies explanation (after all, Parker is a highly influential and successful agent with a laundry list of high profile clients), he seems to think that orchestrating this holdout will not only reap immediate gains for both client and agent alike, but will also earn him a Drew Rosenhaus or Scott Boras type of reputation - that somehow future players will look to him when they really mean business. This is the problem when you hire an agent or an agency looking to make a deal that helps them and not you. Fortunately for Crabtree, there is a simple solution, which is to hire a lawyer. Really, any lawyer will do, so long as that person can read a contract. The NFL has a slotting system that dictates how much money the 'Niners should (and likely will, if reasonable people got involved) pay Crabtree, so there's not a whole lot to negotiate here. And since lawyers work hourly, Crabtree can avoid giving up a cut of that contract and get on with his life. It's a model that works in the NBA, where Lon Babby and Jim Tanner have created a revolutionary representation model at the law firm Williams & Connelly and work with really bright, upstanding players like Tim Duncan, Ray Allen, and Grant Hill. Heck, Crabtree could give them a call right now and I'm absolutely certain that Tanner could figure this thing out.

The bottom line is that Crabtree needs to get rid of his current representation. And with the clock ticking, he can't afford to fall into a similar situation. His best bet is to turn to a lawyer - someone who is used to working things out between disparate parties and knows how to operate on a deadline. Crabtree can save himself by way of the billable hour.

By Adam Hoff  |  September 23, 2009; 1:01 AM ET  | Category:  Draft , Fans , Free Agency , New York Jets , San Francisco 49ers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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What exactly is a "Pro Bowl birth" - does that mean they get younger every year?

Posted by: i_go_pogo | September 24, 2009 6:20 PM

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