After all things Cam Newton, the biggest story from the 2011 NFL Combine was the arrest of agent Pat Dye, Jr.
The story started out on Pro Football Talk (PFT) with four unnamed sources for every unnamed agent who allegedly ran afoul with the law. (Seriously, I tried to count.)
Mike Florio provided the play-by-play for Combinegate:
We contacted the agent in question, who strongly denied the allegation. The league denied it, too. Later in the day, we received word from an eyewitness who saw the agent with what initially was described as a player’s credential. The second source later clarified that it was a sponsor’s credential, and the second source said that the agent was handcuffed temporarily. The agent once again strongly denied it. The league once again denied it, too. We then dispatched Rosenthal to sniff around Indy. He spoke with multiple security personnel at Lucas Oil Stadium, but no one admitted to knowing anything."
"No one admitted to knowing anything." In journalism, that small point usually stops an otherwise good story. But that's so 2008. Now, witnesses who lack credibility get elevated to unnamed source status. And the medium formerly known as gossip gets dressed up as hard news.
We like gossip. We want gossip.
Meatballs, one my favorite 80s comedies, reflects the marketplace's zest for gossip...
Sports by Brooks took it from here with this awesome headline:
Pat Dye Jr. Cuffed At Combine, Sexton Escapes
Who cares about Pat Dye's run-in with the po-po? I want to know about superagent Jimmy Sexton's harrowing, 007-ish escape. According to my imaginative sources, there are only three ways Sexton could have possibly escaped:
1) He avoided capture by scaling Lucas Oil Stadium rafters, then breaking a window, careening down the exterior, then blending in with the 2,242 other NFL agents walking Indy streets.
2) When questioned by Indianapolis police, Sexton pointed out that he was deputized by NCAA cops by virtue of serving on the NCAA's blue ribbon panel to “tackle the complex issue of improper agent activity in college sports.” The fine print: Participation includes immunity from agent laws.
3) Sexton ran from police while Dye played it safe, which is in his family's DNA.
Then Liz Mullen from Sports Business Journal went old-school journalism and got Pat Dye on the phone and on the record.
Talk about a let-the-air-out headline:
NFL Player Agent Pat Dye Jr. Questioned By Police In Indianapolis
According to Pat Dye:
"We were contacted by Under Armour that they would like to have (Dye's and Sexton's client Alabama WR) Julio Jones formally sign his seven-figure marketing deal that includes a national television commercial. I did nothing wrong or illegal."
Dye was "interviewed for about two-and-a-half hours before he was allowed to leave."
Taxpayer dollars at work, folks.
Meanwhile, Indianapolis has seen a recent uptick in violent crime. In response, Indianapolis police "added more officers downtown Saturday night...in the wake of a Saturday morning killing in the bar district."
That edict was two weeks ago, before Indy overfloweth with 8,000 NFL agents.
These are scary times for sports agents. In 2008, an agent who is no longer working as an agent was arrested for violating Alabama's agent laws. (Last month, an arrest warrant was issued when the former agent failed to show up in court at his plea hearing.) The case dates back to 2005 when the agent allegedly sent an employee to visit Alabama football star Tyrone Prothro, who (pick one) A) just ran for 400 yards against Auburn or B) was in the hospital for what turned to be a career-ending leg fracture.
Correct answer is B.
While every other agent did the math on 3% of nothing and, therefore, complied with Alabama state agent laws, one agent saw an opportunity to get a (gimpy) leg up on his competition. The agent was charged with a misdemeanor for "initiating contact with an athlete without being a registered sports agent in Alabama and a felony charge of failing to register as a sports agent."
Don Valeska, assistant Alabama attorney general prosecuting the case, laid down the law: “Nobody comes to the state of Alabama without following the law and talks to college athletes."
I have no doubt Alabama takes its agents laws very seriously. I wonder, do these laws encourage agents to comply or does it drive these activities further underground? Mr. Valeska hardly sounds like a fair-minded member of the jurisprudence; more like a man mission to protect his state's greatest natural resource: Amateur football players.
Follow Marc on twitter @marcisenberg