Ben Dogra can recruit.
Desiring a career as an agent for professional athletes, Dogra interned for free at SMG in 1993, prominently entering the game when the timing couldn't have possibly been better. After player strikes, lawsuits, Plan B free agency, anti-trust violations, the NFL began using an unrestricted form of free agency, allowing players to shop their services. Dogra eventually founded SFX Sports Group with partner Jim Steiner, who once owned SMG with Dogra as his intern. By 2006 the duo represented names like reigning MVP Shaun Alexander, Cadillac Williams (fifth overall pick in 2005) and that year's first-round pick, defensive end Mario Williams.
"From a tactical standpoint, what Ben did (in 2006 with Mario Williams) was not only masterful, but establishes him as perhaps the best agent in the world," Bob Lattinville, a sports agent with Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP told the Biz Journal at the time. "You have Reggie Bush, an instant offensive impact player from USC, and everyone expecting him to go first in the draft. Then Ben gets a defensive end in the No. 1 spot."
Dogra was a prodigy determined to conquer the establishment. Or maybe something slightly less "dramatic without mimicking Don LaFontaine's voice. In 2004 Dogra corralled four first-round prospects and seven players in the top 100 selections. Earlier that year he celebrated a six-year, $31 million contract for Damien Woody; the largest contract granted for an interior linemen (non-tackle) in NFL history.
By the second week in July in 2006, a deal was struck. Dogra's SFX Sports Group was bought out by Creative Artists Agency, combining nearly 60 star-studded athletes led by Dogra with Tom Condon's client list that approached 80 players. Dogra and Condon partnered into one of the most powerful sports agencies today.
"By joining forces, Dogra and Condon will have additional leverage in player contract negotiations and closer relationships with the team executives on the other side of the bargaining table," writes Christopher Tritto with the BizJournals.com. "With CAA, Dogra and Steiner's football clients also will have greater access to outside income opportunities and endorsement deals through CAA's relationships and resources, not to mention greater access to movie premiers, Hollywood awards shows and other high-profile lifestyle perks, Steiner said."
By 2008 the duo represented four of the first eight selections in the NFL draft, including 48 first-round picks combined from 2001 through 2008. While Condon has been part of the NFL dating back to 1974 as a tenth-round pick out of Boston College (he was a guard), his partner took a different path.
"Dogra’s background is far different," writes John Branch of the New York Times. "Dogra moved from New Delhi when he was 6, and his family hopscotched before opening a restaurant in northern Virginia when he was in high school. He did not play sports but wanted an N.F.L. career. Being an agent seemed a reasonable route. After attending George Mason, Dogra chose St. Louis University Law School based on its proximity to two sports agencies, for whom he hoped to work days while studying at night."
Condon ranked inside Sports Illustrated's list of the 50 most powerful people in sports earlier this month.
At 60, the unglamorous former NFL guard boasts a dazzling client list that includes Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson, RG3 and both Mannings, to name a few; and he coheads (with Ben Dogra) CAA's football division, which has signed six of the last nine top NFL draft picks. The notoriously tough negotiator also excels at crisis management (see: Te'o, Manti).
CAA currently represents several Bengals, from free agents Andre Smith and Terence Newman, to wide receiver A.J. Green, who is expected to receive one of the biggest contracts in franchise history within two years. And if you don't think that an agent's relationship with a team matters, then you have more to learn than you realize.
+ No updates on Andre Smith or Terence Newman. However at this point, the general feeling is that everyone would feign surprise if Smith ended up playing elsewhere. Oh, and Newman's tweet about looking for his agent? Deleted. It never happened. Officer Barbrady says move along. Now, move along.
+ The urinal gaming system is... well, check for yourself.
Before you go, "man, that would be kind of awesome", know that they're already being tested in bars. Seriously. Not only are we asking... no, demanding... that drunks try to NOT cross the streams, but now we're facing a possible high-five-ocide in mid-form for breaking an old record? Hands on the 10 and 2 position, people -- and trust the middle stream.
One minor league team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, is adding them.
"These games are sure to make a huge splash," exclaimed IronPigs General Manager Kurt Landes. [Editor's Note: Proof that Josh isn't the most corny-ass person ever] "Our fans are always looking for the next big thing and these 'X-Stream games' are another example of our commitment to providing an unparalleled entertainment experience in all aspects of Coca-Cola Park, including our restrooms."
Now the question of the day. What's more interesting? A urinal video game or a baseball team called the fuggin' IronPigs? Take that Pelican s*** in New Orleans and give me an IronPig anytime.
+ Speaking of urinals, the Cleveland Browns signed quarterback Jason Campbell on Tuesday to a two-year deal. The AFC North backup quarterbacks are Bruce Gradkowski (Steelers), Campbell (Browns), Tyrod Taylor (Ravens) and Josh Johnson (Bengals). Ew.
+ According to reports, running back Ahmad Bradshaw will visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday.
+ The SB Nation NFL Mock Draft is already in progress. We've already made our selection and it's ...did you really think we're put that here? Well done being thoughtful enough to think we'd put that in white lettering though. Gold star, buddy. Gold star.
+ HGH testing update. Nothing.
+ Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer personally put Kenny Vaccaro through drills during Texas' Pro Day on Tuesday.
+ Nice work, Ephram. Nice work.