- Colts agree to terms with defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins
- Insider: Colts, DL Johnathan Hankins strike a big deal
- Colts' Hankins grew from pee wee running back to huge force on defensive line
- Lions Finalize Roster: Dwayne Washington and Adairius Barnes in, Alex Carter Out
- Who is Adairius Barnes? The guy who made the Lions' roster over Alex Carter
- New York Giants' Johnathan Hankins fully healthy to start offseason program
- IT'S ALL ABOUT GIVING BACK FOR QUINTON PATTON
- NFL draft sleeper DL Justin Zimmer talks to Draft Wire
- O'HARA: Missing Combine won't hinder local DT prospect Justin Zimmer
- Raiders' Woodson aging like fine wine
- Johnathan Hankins, the Giants' quiet star
- Super Bowl Winner Reaches Back to Help Future Leaders: Kareem McKenzie
- TWENTYFOUR - Charles Woodson
- Ty Law 'Launches' NEXT Career By Building a Business Empire
- Former La. Tech star Quinton Patton keeps moving
- The world of football featured in Eighth Annual Soifer Lecture
- Johnathan Hankins - He's big on football
- Hardaway Enough to Rise Above 'Air' Jordan
- Packers reach agreement with Charles Woodson
- Deal suits Redd : Contract is richest in team history
- VIKINGS REWARD HENDERSON WITH BIG DEAL
- Sports Agent is All About Family: The Detroit News
- PENNY, DOLLARS ALL MAKE SENSE
- MAGIC'S COMPLICATED FINANCING CAPTURES STAR-POWERED HARDAWAY
- Peterson Signs Big Free Agent Contract with Seattle: Associated Press (Julian Peterson)
- Trading Places: New York Post (Kareem McKenzie)
- NBA Teams Awarding Big Bucks to Players: Jet Magazine: Sports (Penny Hardaway)
Kevin Poston with DEAL client Jourdan Lewis after the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 28 to 17 on November 5, 2017.
DEAL client Jourdan Lewis prepares to play against the Kansas City Chiefs in his rookie season. Jourdan is a starting cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys.
Kevin and Kathy Poston with DEAL client Johnathan Hankins after Indianapolis Colts OT win over the San Francisco 49ers.
DEAL client Johnathan Hankins sponsors a 10 ticket block for U.S. Military to attend each Indianapolis Colts home football game in 2017.
DEAL CEO Kevin Poston being honored as the first Distinguished Alumni Recipient of his high school class at his 40th class reunion.
As part of a community outreach program, Kevin Poston speaks to inner city youth about the importance of having life skills and an education.
Jourdan Lewis signs his NFL rookie contract with the Dallas Cowboys as DEAL CEO Kevin Poston looks on.
Congratulations to DEAL client Johnathan Hankins for signing a 3 year, $30 million dollar free agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts. The deal includes a $15.9 million guarantee for the young 25 year old defensive tackle.
Myles and Kevin Poston with DEAL client Johnathan Hankins after his free agent signing with the Indianapolis Colts.
First-team All American Jourdan Lewis is welcomed to the DEAL family by company CEO Kevin Poston. The senior CB was named the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year and was once again named to the All-Big Ten defensive first team.
Former DEAL intern and University of Texas scholarship athlete Kendall Baisden with Kevin Poston. Kendall is now preparing to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Her primary event is the women's 400 meters.
Ty Law adds his 12th "Launch" store. Ty Law and his former University of Michigan teammate, Jason Avant, announce Avant's partnership with Law in a new Launch Trampoline franchise in Bedford, N.J.View Video
Congratulations to Quinton Patton who successfully hosted his first youth football camp in his hometown of Smyrna, TN. The camp was a huge success.
Congratulations to Johnathan Hankins who successfully hosted a summer football camp for newcomers and seasoned players alike on July 6-9, 2016. The football camp was held at Drew University in Madison, NJ.
Congratulations to future NFL Hall of Famer Charles Woodson in announcing his retirement from pro football after the 2015 NFL season. Charles retired on his own terms while playing at an all pro level. Charles played 18 NFL seasons.View Video
DEAL CEO and President Kevin Poston welcomes DT/DE Justin Zimmer of Ferris State University and his parents to the DEAL family. Justin registered 81 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles his senior season.
CB Adairius Barnes from Louisiana Tech University signs with DEAL. Pictured from left to right is Kevin Poston, Adairius Barnes, and Jeffery Ruffin.
Congratulations to Charles Woodson in becoming the first player in NFL history with 50+ interceptions and 20 Sacks.
Congratulations to Ty Law for being inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame - Only one past great player or coach is chosen by the fans each year for this prestigious honor.
DEAL CEO and President Kevin Poston was the guest speaker at the 8th Annual Howard Soifer Memorial Lecture in Sports and Entertainment Law on October 2, 2013 at Cooley Law School, Lansing, Michigan campus.View Video
Charles Woodson was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week in a 27-17 win over the Chargers on October 6, 2013. Charles recovered a fumble for a touchdown, which tied him for the most defensive touchdowns (13) in NFL history.View Video
My father, Carl C. Poston, Jr., passed away February 18, 2013. He was the greatest man I've ever known. His life was a symbol of integrity, honesty, purpose, and service. What a life, what a blessing...what a man! RIP, Pops. Love Always, your third, Kevin
Charles Woodson donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross for disaster relief to help victims of Hurricane Sandy (November 1, 2012).
My mother, Thelma L. Poston, passed away May 22, 2014. She was the best mother in the entire world. And, the greatest business person I have ever known. She was what love is. You will forever be in my heart, Mom! RIP, Love Always, your third, Kevin
Kevin Poston and Robert Hatter of DEAL with client Charles Woodson at his annual fundraiser in Napa Valley to support the Charles Woodson Foundation and his other charitable efforts through Twenty Four wines.
Congratulations to Charles Woodson for signing a free agent deal with the Oakland Raiders. In 2015, Charles will play in his 18th NFL season.View Video
Quinton Patton's 2013 NFL rookie highlights for the San Francisco 49ers.View Video
The 2013 NFL Draft Day Party of Johnathan Hankins' of the New York Giants.View Video
Congratulations to Ty Law on the opening of his new trampoline park business, Launch 24 in Providence, Rhode Island (November 20, 2012).View Video
Colts agree to terms with defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins
By Michael Marot
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard waited patiently to make his biggest offseason splash.
On Thursday, Ballard jumped into the free agent pool and got former New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins with a three-year deal worth $30 million and $15.9 million in guaranteed money, according to a person with direct knowledge of the contract terms. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Colts hadn't yet announced the numbers.
If the 25-year-old meets or exceeds expectations, the Colts may — finally — have the run-stuffing anchor they need to solidify a porous defensive line.
"He's a really good player who hasn't had a bad year," agent Kevin Poston told The Associated Press. "The Colts have to get younger on defense and they have, but if you can't stuff the middle, you can't stop the run and you don't find too many Johnathan Hankins in the draft. You may find them in three or four years, but not in the draft."
Discussions went on for more than a month.
When Hankins left town Tuesday without a deal, it appeared negotiations were over. They weren't.
Poston said he and the Colts continued talking. The key was getting a three-year deal for 6-foot-2, 320-pound Ohio State product.
"It was very important for us to get a three-year deal because at 28, he's still in his prime and we've got another shot at the apple," Poston said.
There were other factors in play for Hankins, too.
He had a personal relationship with linebackers coach Jim Herrmann, who joined the Colts last season after spending the previous seven with the Giants. Hankins also was a college teammate of another free agent signee, linebacker John Simon.
And with the Colts playing a 3-4 defense, Hankins figured it was a good match.
"You've got to find the right fit," Poston said. "Money is important, don't get me wrong, but if you go with the wrong club, the wrong coach or the wrong city, you've got a lot of stuff."
Ballard believes Hankins fits well, too.
After taking Hankins in the second round of the 2013 draft, he started 41 of 52 games, had 140 tackles and 10 sacks in four seasons with New York. Last season, Hankins finished with 43 tackles, three sacks, eight tackles for loss and one forced fumble.
Poston said New York wanted to re-sign Hankins but denied reports that indicated the asking price was $15 million per year or that the Giants had put a four-year deal worth $28 million on the table.
Meanwhile, in Indy, Ballard continued sticking to his plan.
During his introductory news conference Ballard told local reporters he believed in a defense-first philosophy and promised to be judicious about investing in players who fit the locker room — regardless of whether it created a public buzz.
Since then, Ballard has been extraordinarily busy.
He's signed a dozen unrestricted free agents, primarily reasonably-priced players such as Simon and defensive end Margus Hunt, re-signed three of his own players and traded tight end Dwayne Allen to New England.
The common denominator: Getting younger, more productive players.
Most of the work has been done on the defensive side of the ball.
Ballard has added four linebackers to shore up one of the thinnest positions on the roster, and Hankins becomes the third defensive lineman to join the Colts. Hunt and nose tackle Al Woods signed in March.
But Hankins was the most pricey of the bunch and for a good reason — the Colts believe he'll be a big part of the solution on defense.
"Johnathan is a young, productive and disruptive defensive lineman," Ballard said in a statement issued by the team. "He possesses a wealth of experience and brings leadership to our team."
Insider: Colts, DL Johnathan Hankins strike a big deal
By Steven Holder
INDIANAPOLIS – Free-agent defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins left Indianapolis without a contract after visiting with the Colts on Tuesday.
By Wednesday, it appeared negotiations weren’t going to produce a deal and no signing was imminent.
On Thursday, everything changed.
A major shift in negotiations helped the Colts land the biggest remaining free agent on the market. An NFL source confirmed the Colts are signing the 25-year-old star lineman. According to ESPN and other reports, Hankins — formerly of the New York Giants — will sign a three-year, $30 million contract with the Colts.
Hankins will likely play nose tackle in Indianapolis, giving coach Chuck Pagano the best players he’s had at the position in his tenure. It’s pivotal in the 3-4 defensive scheme, and should provide a boost to a defense that has been porous at the point of attack.
Hankins had a standing offer from the Giants that remained on the table. It was, reportedly, worth $28 million over four years. It’s not known whether the Giants tried to sweeten their offer after Hankins opened talks with the Colts.
The signing gives the Colts the biggest addition yet to a defense that new General Manager Chris Ballard has been steadily building.
Among the other key signings are outside linebackers Jabaal Sheard and John Simon, as well as inside linebacker Sean Spence.
Signing Hankins also has a substantive impact on the NFL draft. While the defensive line was thought to be among the team's priorities in this month's draft, acquiring Hankins gives the Colts the luxury of concentrating more on other areas of need, like cornerback and inside linebacker, in the early rounds.
The addition of Hankins could also impact David Parry, the starting nose tackle the past two seasons. Parry is facing multiple felonies in Scottsdale, Ariz., after being arrested in an alcohol-related incident in February. The Colts have not committed to keeping Parry on the roster, though they have cited his unresolved charges as one reason for not releasing him.
Either way, Hankins gives the Colts an upgrade at a key position. In Pagano's five previous seasons, his primary nose tackles have been Antonio Johnson (2012), Aubrayo Franklin (2013), Josh Chapman (2014) and Parry (2015-16).
For Hankins, signing with the Colts brings to a conclusion his monthlong wait on the open market. While most of the top-dollar free agents signed big deals weeks ago, Hankins decided to take a slow approach when initial negotiations didn’t meet his asking price. In the end, the decision paid off — literally. Hankins could average as much as $10 million a year and will receive a reported $15.9 million in guaranteed money.
Hankins posted a message on social media about his time in New York.
“I want to thank the Giants organization for giving me the opportunity to play the game I love. Especially to the Mara and Tisch families for welcoming me and supporting me for the last four years. Thank you to my teammates for going to battle every game with me. I appreciate everything this organization has given me and my family. Thank you to all of the fans, I will never forget Big Blue Nation.”
Colts' Hankins grew from pee wee running back to huge force on defensive line
By Clifton Brown
INDIANAPOLIS — Trapped inside the 6-2, 320-pound body of Johnathan Hankins is a running back longing to escape.
During his childhood in Detroit, a much smaller Hankins was a feared running back in pee wee football. Hankins’ idol was Jerome Bettis, a Hall of Fame running back and fellow Detroit native. Hankins said he ran like Bettis, punished tacklers like Bettis, and wanted to become an NFL running back like Bettis.
But then something derailed Hankins’ running back career. He kept growing.
“The way he looks now is the way he looked in high school,” said Donshell English, the current coach at Detroit Mumford who coached Hankins at Detroit Southeastern. “He’d tell you in a minute, ‘Man, I’m a running back.’ I took one look at Big Hank, as we call him, and said, 'Well, we don’t have 300-pound running backs.’’’
Neither do the Indianapolis Colts. “Big Hank” is making big dollars playing defensive tackle in the NFL. He was the Colts’ largest addition in every way during free agency, signing a three-year deal that could pay up to $30 million with incentives, as the new centerpiece of the defensive front. The Colts aren’t paying Hankins to play running back. They are paying Hankins to squash running backs.
The Colts hope Hankins will be a disruptive force that brings a tougher identity to a revamped defensive unit. During this month’s organized team activities, Hankins has quickly tried to bring a forceful attitude. He made an appearance on NFL Network and said he viewed the Colts as having the NFL’s best defense. Maybe that sounded over the top, but the bigger point was that Hankins wanted the Colts defense to think more boldly, to command more respect.
During a recent conversation, Hankins also took exception when it was suggested he might not be as effective with the Colts as he was with the Giants, when Hankins played alongside two studs on the Giants’ defensive line: tackle Damon Harrison and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
“I don’t really listen to outside talk like that,” said Hankins during a break from OTAs. “I’m going to work hard. I’m going to lead. I’m really looking forward to building something special here.”
Whatever Hankins does will be noticed. When you are his size, with his talent, at just 25 years old, expectations are high.
The Colts need Hankins to be a run-stuffer on defense, and they would also like him to put occasional pressure on opposing quarterbacks. While Hankins had 43 tackles and three sacks with the Giants last season, racking up statistics was not his forte. Dominating the line of scrimmage is Hankins’ bread and butter, using his strength and athleticism to occupy multiple offensive lineman. Even when Hankins can’t make the tackle himself, his goal will be to create opportunities for other Colts defensive playmakers.
Nobody can blame new General Manager Chris Ballard for pursuing Hankins and taking a wrecking ball to the 2016 Colts defense. Last year they ranked 30th in total defense — 25th against the run and 27th against the pass. Pick any defensive scheme you wanted, the Colts played it poorly.
Ballard hopes Hankins will be a catalyst for a defensive transformation. Defensive tackle may not be a glamour position, but if Hankins is an immovable object in the middle, he will help set the tone for the entire defense, especially against the run.
“Everybody’s trying to find a guy that big who can do the things that he can,” said Urban Meyer, coach at Ohio State, where Hankins became a star. “Bill Belichick, Nick Saban, a lot of great defensive coaches love a defensive tackle like Jonathan. He’s a true gap defender. With him, you can move on to the next issue. He’s not going to get knocked out of there with his size and technique.
“Nowadays a lot of NFL teams also have questions about a guy’s character — what kind of kid will he be? Is he going to represent the organization the right way? That’s the No.1 thing they want to know. Johnathan’s character is off the charts, an awesome kid from an awesome family. And the bonus is that he’s a hell of player.”
Hankins has a history of exceeding expectations. He wasn’t even the most heavily recruited player on his high school team. That honor went to William Gholston, now a starting defensive end with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who went to Michigan State.
Hankins wanted to stay near home as well, and his first choice was the University of Michigan. However, Hankins said the Wolverines were not interested until it was too late. He was sold on going to Ohio State after meeting with former Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel.
“Coach Tressel is a calm, laid-back dude,’’ said Hankins. “We clicked.”
Tressel said they clicked because Hankins was low maintenance.
“He didn’t talk about how much playing time he would be guaranteed, how many snaps would he play, none of that,” said Tressel, now president of Youngstown State University. “I think he’ll fit in great with the Colts. He won’t say much, won’t make a big deal out of himself. But he’ll play hard every snap.
“He’s a big guy, but make no mistake, he’s an athlete. Those Colts linebackers will love him. He’ll free them to make plays, but he’ll also pursue. He makes guys around him play harder, because they don’t want to look bad, seeing that big guy moving faster than they are in practice.”
During high school practice, English would often pit Gholston and Hankins against each other in drills. English wanted to challenge them, knowing he had two players with NFL potential. He told schools that came to see Gholston but overlooked Hankins that they were making a mistake.
“I don’t know what the deal was with Michigan State, but we told them how good Big Hank was,” said English. “In fact, Gholston and Hank were talking at one time about going someplace together. But once Michigan State got Gholston, they dragged their feet on Big Hank. When he signed with Ohio State we told Michigan State, ‘He’s going to terrorize you for the next three or four years. That’s exactly what he did.’"
Hankins had an outstanding season for Ohio State as a junior and decided to enter the 2013 draft. Meyer had only been at Ohio State for one year, taking over from Tressel. Watching Hankins walk out the door was tough, but Hankins was ready for the NFL and Meyer knew it.
“I wish I could’ve had him for more than one year,’’ Meyer said. “But we didn’t really try to talk him into staying.”
Hankins expected to be a first-round pick in 2013, but when his family gathered with excitement on the first night of the draft, Hankins’ phone never rang. First Hankins was deflated. Then he was motivated when the Giants took him in the second round with the 49th pick. For the Giants, getting Hankins at No. 49 proved to be a steal.
“My expectation was that I would go in the first round,” said Hankins. “But I felt lucky to get a call the very next day from the Giants. It was still exciting. Everything you dreamed of, everything you worked for, was still right in front of you.”
That still holds true for Hankins. Asked his greatest NFL disappointment, Hankins didn’t mention being snubbed in the first round of the draft or having never been named to a Pro Bowl. He talked about the emptiness he felt in January, when the Giants lost to the Packers 38-13 in the opening round of the playoffs. Hankins thought the Giants had a legitimate chance to reach the Super Bowl, and that was his first taste of the playoffs. The Colts have missed the playoffs the past two seasons, and Hankins said that needed to change.
“Losing in the playoffs was depressing,” said Hankins. “I’m coming here to help the Colts get back there, and go further.”
Does Hankins still think he could help the Colts as a running back?
“Sure,” said Hankins, laughing. “But my coaches keep crushing those dreams.”
Meyer offered a retort.
“Yeah, I remember hearing him say he could play running back,” Meyer said. “I don’t buy it. God made Hankins a tackle. And a darn good one.”
Lions Finalize Roster: Dwayne Washington and Adairius Barnes in, Alex Carter Out
By Kyle Meinke
ALLEN PARK -- Dwayne Washington finished the preseason the same way he began it.
By taking one to the house.
The Detroit Lions rookie running back had an electric preseason, including scoring on a 96-yard yard kick return against Pittsburgh and on a 58-yard run against Buffalo. He averaged 5.8 yards every time he touched the ball on offense.
In the end, that was more than enough to earn him a hard-fought job on the Lions' 53-man roster that was announced Saturday afternoon. First-year GM Bob Quinn elected to carry him in Detroit's five-man backfield along with Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner and fullback Michael Burton.
"I've been impressed with some of the things he's done," offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said of Washington. "When the guy gets the ball he does impressive things. That's a good trait to have."
Quinn also kept another rookie at the back end of his defensive line rotation in Anthony Zettel, who was a sixth-round pick. And an undrafted rookie, little-known Adairius Barnes, might have been the most surprising pick of all in the defensive backfield.
He made the team over Alex Carter, who was cut just one season after going in the third round of last year's draft.
But Quinn proved he wasn't going to play favorites with his draft class either, choosing Dan Orlovsky as his backup quarterback over sixth-round pick Jake Rudock, even though Rudock was Detroit's highest-rated QB during the preseason.
Rudock was the most shocking cut, although TJ Jones' dismissal was unexpected too. Jones had repped as the starting slot receiver for much of the offseason, then as the top reserve after the acquisition of Anquan Boldin. He even sat with the regulars for the preseason finale against Buffalo.
Jace Billingsley also was cut at the position, despite leading Detroit in receiving during the preseason. Detroit kept just four receivers, with Andre Roberts earning the only job behind starters Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Boldin.
Here is the full roster:
Quarterback (2): Matthew Stafford, Dan Orlovsky
Out: Jake Rudock
Tailback (5): Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington, Michael Burton (fullback)
Out: George Winn
Receiver (4): Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin, Andre Roberts
Out: TJ Jones, Jay Lee, Jace Billingsley, Quinshad Davis
Tight end (3): Eric Ebron, Cole Wick, Orson Charles
Out: Adam Fuehne
Offensive line (9): Taylor Decker, Laken Tomlinson, Travis Swanson, Larry Warford, Riley Reiff, Graham Glasgow, Joe Dahl, Cornelius Lucas, Corey Robinson
Out: Michael Ola, Luke Marquardt, Gabe Ikard, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Brandon Thomas
Defensive line (11): Ezekiel Ansah, Haloti Ngata, Tyrunn Walker, Devin Taylor, Wallace Gilberry, Brandon Copeland, A'Shawn Robinson, Stefan Charles, Khyri Thornton, Anthony Zettel, Kerry Hyder
Out: Caraun Reid, Gabe Wright
Linebacker (6): DeAndre Levy, Tahir Whitehead, Kyle Van Noy, Josh Bynes, Antwione Williams, Jon Bostic
Out: Khaseem Greene, Zaviar Gooden, Jayson DiManche
Defensive back (10): Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson, Quandre Diggs, Adairius Barnes, Johnson Bademosi, Glover Quin, Rafael Bush, Tavon Wilson, Miles Killebrew, Don Carey
Out: Alex Carter, Darrin Walls, Charles Washington, Isaiah Johnson
Specialist (3): Matt Prater, Sam Martin, Don Muhlbach
Suspended: TE Andrew Quarless
PUP: TE Brandon Pettigrew, WR Corey Fuller
Who is Adairius Barnes? The guy who made the Lions' roster over Alex Carter
By Kyle Meinke
ALLEN PARK -- Alex Carter was beaten out by Adairius Barnes for a spot on the Detroit Lions' 53-man roster.
Whoever saw that one coming should head to Vegas pronto. You are a soothsayer beyond reproach. Or Adairus Barnes' mother.
Because no one else could have predicted this.
Barnes is such an unknown, he wasn't mentioned all offseason by a coach or reporter during a press conference. The only times I can find where his name was dropped on this site since the start of camp were in my practice observationsfrom July 30, when he tipped a ball that receiver Quinshad Davis caught anyway, and from Aug. 11, when he had a good rep during gunner work with the Steelers.
So whatever he's done to impress coaches, and what his role will be, remain unclear. There's just not much we know or can say about him until Jim Caldwell meets with reporters on Monday. So, for now, this is what we do know about the unknown Mr. Barnes.
Weight: 179 pounds
Position: Defensive back
40-yard dash: 4.53 seconds with wind, 4.57 seconds against wind at pro day
Vertical jump: 41.5 inches at pro day
20-yard shuffle: 4.08 seconds at pro day
225-pound bench press: 14 reps
Quotable from pro day: "Barnes looked good and very smooth in his positional workout. He might have worked his way into being a priority free-agent pickup possibility for a team following the draft." -- NFL Network's Gil Brandt
The high school years
Barnes was born April 30, 1994. For those bad at math or lazy (let's be honest, that's a lot of us), he's 22 years old. He hails from Vicksburg, Miss., and played his high school ball at Port Gibson High in Port Gibson, Miss.
Fun note: He was actually a four-sport star in high school, also competing in track, basketball and baseball. Track was his next-best sport, including winning the 4A state championship in the triple jump and placing second in the long jump in 2011.
In football, Barnes was a three-star prospect and ranked by Rivals as the 20th-best player in Mississippi. His offer list wasn't all that impressive: Louisiana Tech, East Carolina, Memphis and Mississippi State.
He originally committed to Mississippi State -- where he could have played with current Lions corner Darius Slay -- before eventually switching to Louisiana Tech and enrolling there in 2012.
The college years
Barnes played sparingly as a freshman in 2012, making five tackles in five games, before moving into a more prominent role. He wound up becoming a three-year starter who picked off an impressive nine passes as a sophomore and junior.
His interceptions dwindled to one last year as a senior, though he also deflected a career-best 11 passes. He added 50 tackles (1.5 for loss) and was named all-Conference USA honorable mention for the second time in his career.
Barnes finished his four-year career with 103 tackles and 10 interceptions in 44 games. He also deflected 26 passes, while recovering three fumbles and forcing two others.
He wrapped up his career with better-known guys like DT Vernon Butler, who was drafted 30th overall by the Panthers, and QB Jeff Driskell, who went in the sixth round to San Francisco but was released this week. Who would have ever thought Barnes would land a job out of training camp, and Driskell would not?
Detroit gave Barnes a modest $5,000 bonus to sign here after he went undrafted, and he's been quiet throughout the offseason. He hasn't done much to catch the eye of reporters, and coaches haven't mentioned him as a guy who was standing out or struggling. The only entries I can find mentioning him are the aforementioned practice observations from training camp, plus a single entry from minicamp by my former colleague Justin Rogers, noting Barnes didn't do much in coverage on a dropped pass by Andre Roberts.
In a way, for a rookie defensive back, that could actually be encouraging. Corner is among the most difficult positions for a first-year player, so perhaps no news is good news?
It seems so, considering Quinn carried him instead of Carter, who was a third-round pick last year and has much better size, and Darrin Walls, a veteran who had been repping as the first guy off the bench.
Detroit is heading into the regular season with Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson penciled in as starters, Quandre Diggs in the nickel and Barnes and special teams ace Johnson Bademosi as the top reserves.
What they're saying
"Count me as somewhat surprised. Of Louisiana Tech's seven guys in camp, he's the one I heard the least about. He was never really known as a special teams guy here. He was a three-year starter and had his best year in 2014 with five interceptions. Generally good in coverage with good ball skills. He had a pretty solid pro day but didn't run as fast as some thought. I knew he'd get a shot as a UDFA, but didn't expect much since it's difficult to make it as an undrafted rookie. It appears he made the most of it." -- Sean Isabella, The News Star
New York Giants' Johnathan Hankins fully healthy to start offseason program
By Chris Pflum
The Giants get some good news as they start their off-season program, and John Hankins is set to be a "full go".
The New York Giants' defense wasn't stacked with talent in 2015. They had some good players at the top, but the depth was questionable at best. Unfortunately, that meant that when the defense was devastated by injuries, they were largely left bereft of talent.
In 2014, Johnathan Hankins was one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL, and one of the very few to rank in the top 10 as both a pass rusher and as a run defender. That was when he was playing next to Jason Pierre-Paul on a weekly basis. When Pierre-Paul's fireworks accident put him on the shelf for the first half of the season, it had the ripple effect of allowing offenses to concentrate on blocking Hankins -- now the Giants' best defensive lineman.
Predictably, his stats fell off despite his characteristically solid play.
Things only got worse when Hankins took a bad fall -- while forcing a fumble -- in the Giants' game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That forced fumble was the last play of his season, and Hankins was quickly placed on the injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle.
"I'm ahead of everything. Pretty much fully healthy. Full go. Everything's going pretty good." Hankins said when he was asked that very question. And it's good news, because 2016 is a contract year for the 2013 second round pick. Despite so much riding on his recovery, he seems remarkably nonplussed. "I'm just really focused on the season, trying to get to the ultimate goal, which is win the Super Bowl." Hankins said, adding "Take it one day at a time."
Hankins is excited, however, about the arrivals of Harrison and Vernon, a feeling he expressed when asked about them. "I was excited that we brought him in." Hankins said "He's well-known around the league as a dominant run stopper and also pushing the pocket." Hankins was also asked how he feels about the team spending so much money on the defense, perhaps with an eye to his own impending free agency. He responded by saying "I don't think it's really about the money. It's about the quality of guys they brought in. All of them will contribute. Great to have new teammates and a new look on the defense."
Finally, Hankins was asked about new head coach Ben McAdoo. "Really trying to get to know him day-by-day. He was around last year, the last two years. I'm sure as this year goes along we'll gradually get adjusted," Hankins said.
McAdoo was at least familiar to the defensive players, having been the offensive coordinator for two years, but it seems likely that he would have a stronger relationship with the offensive players than the guys on the defensive side of the ball. Given that he's a coach that believes in relationships, that should change quickly.
IT'S ALL ABOUT GIVING BACK FOR QUINTON PATTON
By Sports Awakening
When you hear of things going on in the offseason for NFL players, the immediate things that people talk about are the negatives. Most recently, there was a negative thing mentioned regarding NFL quarterback Tavaris Jackson. He was arrested after pulling a gun on his wife and threatening her. And of course the obligatory comments began to reign all over social media. The blanket statements that many say all the time about athletes when they get in trouble began to come out everywhere. And because the media tends to focus more on all the bad things that happen involving athletes, the noise around those slips began to get louder and louder. The honest truth is many love to see those that appear superhuman fail. But what about when an athlete does something that is great. What about when an athlete does something that may go unnoticed by many but is done for the right reasons? Well, this past Saturday, San Francisco's receiver Quinton Patton did something that was a greatly positive influence for local athletes.
The fourth-year wide receiver held his 1st annual football camp at his high school alma mater, LaVergne High school, this past Saturday. The event had two sessions, one for kids range 7-12 years old (8am-11am) and then another session 13-18 years olds. And not only was Patton there, but he brought his crew of NFL friends with him. Present and helping were cornerback Kenneth Acker (San Francisco 49ers), wide receiver Myles White (New York Giants), defensive tackle Vernon Butler (Carolina Panthers), and offensive tackle Jordan Mills (Buffalo Bills) among others that were there. When asked about why he wanted to do this camp, the answer was simple for Quinton: "I wanted to give back to the youth and the community and show them that they can overcome any obstacle and be better in life. Growing up here, they did not have things like this for me." Indeed Quinton put on a great showing for all the kids that came there. Him and his crew were instructing kids on how to do certain drills and also having fun. But they also had some serious moments at the end of each session. They discussed not only football, but the important things in life with the kids that were there and their parents through questions that were fielded.
The even greater thing about this camp was that no parent had to worry about paying for the camp at all. That's right. Quinton decided to make the camp free for all that attended. But let it be known by many, his contribution did not matter. But in all actuality, it really did. It made the dream of many kids look and feel very attainable while giving them hope that they can be the next one to make it out of Nashville, Tennessee and surrounding areas and put their name on the map. Whether it be via being an athlete or whatever the kids they saw on Saturday decide to do, Quinton and his crew gave them something tangible to attach to their hopes and dreams. And because of that, he deserves attention. Not only for coming back to where he was from, but bringing something that many had not seen growing up: an NFL player from the area bringing a camp to his community.
The world is so conditioned to cracking jokes and tearing down athletes that they never praise them when they do great things. And even when people do great things, people still find a way to tear them down. Well, this article is not one of those articles tearing down anyone. This article is praising the efforts of a guy coming back home to give something back. And not only did he give back, but he put his passion and effort into helping the next generation learn a thing or two, as he was active and present in all aspects of his first camp. For all that he has done, Quinton Patton deserves a ton of credit.
NFL draft sleeper DL Justin Zimmer talks to Draft Wire
By Simon A Chester
With the NFL draft only a few days away, you have probably read your fill of profiles on prospects destined for a first-round selection. As a change of pace, we want to break things up by highlighting a few sleeper candidates this week.
These prospects, hidden from view among the more high-profile players hailing from big-name institutions, are long shots to make the NFL. However, every year a handful of these unknowns overcome their more obscure past to become quality professionals, a few even hearing their names called during draft weekend.
The first of our sleeper profiles — Justin Zimmer — might just be one of those players.
Zimmer is a defensive tackle from Division II Ferris State. Originally recruited as a linebacker, Zimmer shifted to the defensive line during spring ball at the end of his redshirt freshman year. By the time his freshman year was behind him, Zimmer never left the field and was a three-year starter.
We had the opportunity to sit and talk with Zimmer to hear about his career to date and learn a more about this potential sleeper.
Beginning with the transition to college and his development over the years, Zimmer told us about his time at Ferris State:
“It was a learning experience playing with my hand on the ground, but it was good that I did it during spring ball that year, so I got at least a bit of a head start and by the end of my redshirt freshman year I really started to get the hang of it.”
“I played defensive end the next three years and this past year I played defensive tackle, although I still played some defensive end. We played a 4-3 scheme and I played mostly a 6 technique, we played a lot of teams that played a single tight end set and I would always go over the tight end. In my first two years as a starter I dropped into coverage quite a bit, but less so in my last year of course playing more defensive tackle. I feel pretty comfortable in coverage, but I love rushing the passer a lot more.”
In his senior year at Ferris State, Zimmer compiled 81 tackles, 13 sacks, 26 tackles for loss and 4 forced fumbles. That was good enough to be ranked second overall in the nation for tackles for loss among defensive lineman and near the top 10 in sacks.
Since leaving Ferris state Zimmer spent much of his time training at the well-known Michael Johnson Performance training center in McKinney, Texas, a place that has been the training ground for many famous draft hopefuls over the years.
Working with a host of other draft prospects. even though Zimmer was not extended an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine, he found himself working in the group of players being prepared for the high profile event at the performance center nevertheless.
Eager to show his talents to NFL teams, Zimmer attended the first Regional Scouting Combine on the schedule, one that luckily enough was also close to home, held in Houston.
“It went pretty well, there’s definitely a lot of room for improvements, I didn’t think I tested as well in some of the tests as I think of could of, but overall, my main goal going into it was just get some numbers out there, get my name out there and I think that goal was accomplished, but I’d still like to do a lot better on some of the tests when I get to my Pro Day”
The reality was, Zimmer was one of the star attractions of that Combine, a fact not lost on a number of publications.
“The former Greenville High School graduate was listed as Michigan’s “hidden secret” by an NFL.com writer who covered the event in Houston. “It was clear that he was a notch or three above all other defensive lineman candidates,” wrote John Harris of the 6-foot-3, 303-pound Zimmer.”
At one point it looked like Zimmer would be attending the Central Michigan Pro Day, but his agent was of the belief he could find a more high profile event for his client to attend, an agent the player had to find himself:
“In Division II the agents don’t come to you, like they do with the Division I guys and I had to look for my own agent. I ended up connecting with Kevin Poston from Deal, it’s been great so far, he been working to get me into different places, he got me into a world class training facility, I’ve been really happy with him”
It turned out Zimmer chose his agent wisely, as ultimately he managed to get his client included into perhaps the most high profile Pro Day event on the annual calendar – The University of Michigan Pro Day.
Again Zimmer was the standout player at the event.
O'HARA: Missing Combine won't hinder local DT prospect Justin Zimmer
By Mike O'Hara
Justin Zimmer will be an interested observer from a distant vantage point during this week’s workouts and testing at the NFL Combine.
Justin Zimmer will be an interested observer -- with a vested interest – from a distant vantage point during this week’s workouts and testing at the NFL Combine.
Despite his impressive career playing defensive tackle for Ferris State, Zimmer is not one of the 322 draft-eligible players who were invited to display their wares to scouts and personnel executives at the Combine workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
While the Combine invitees are being tested physically, mentally and medically at the NFL’s annual talent show, Zimmer will be 850 miles away at the Michael Johnson Performance training center in McKinney, Texas, where he has been training for the draft for almost two months.
Zimmer plans to watch the Combine on television to see how he compares to the players competing. That includes the 64 defensive tackles who were invited.
“Yeah, I’ll be watching,” Zimmer said in a telephone interview. “I want to compare myself to what some of the other defensive tackles do. Where I’ve been training, we’ve got 10 guys going there (but no defensive tackles). It’ll be really cool to see some of the guys I’ve been training with for seven weeks.”
A Combine invite is partly a status symbol, but being left out of the party does not close the door on having a pro career. Here are some plusses and minuses on what it means for Zimmer not making it to Indy:
Plus: His career at Ferris State. In his last three seasons Zimmer had 53 tackles for loss. Fittingly, his peak performance came as a fifth-year senior in 2015 – 26 tackles for loss, 13 of them quarterback sacks.
Plus: He’s already made an impressive showing for the scouts at the recent Regional Combine in Houston.
Plus: The numbers show that a Combine invite guarantees nothing, either way. More players are invited than there are draft slots to fill.
Example 1: 256 players were drafted last year. Based on this year’s list of 332 invitees, that means 56 more players are invited than got drafted a year ago.
Example 2: In 2014, 32 of the 256 players drafted were not invited to the Combine.
Plus and minus: Being from a Division II school like Ferris State, which competes in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, can carry a stigma of competing against lesser competition. However, the NFL has a rich history of players from small schools having long, successful NFL careers.
The GLIAC has sent many players to the NFL, among them former Lions running back Joique Bell of Wayne State, current Packers receiver Jeff Janis of Saginaw Valley State, Raiders offensive lineman Jared Veldheer of Hillsdale and Eagles offensive lineman Todd Herremans of Saginaw Valley State.
In last year’s draft, the Buccaneers drafted center Ali Marpet of Division III Hobart in the second round.
Linebacker London Fletcher is one of the all-time classic examples of a player from a small school having success. Fletcher went undrafted out of Division III John Carroll in suburban Cleveland but made the Rams as a rookie in 1998. Fletcher never missed a game in 16 seasons with the Rams, Bills and Washington.
Bottom line: if a player has talent, the NFL will find him.
Zimmer has not let missing out on the Combine diminish his enthusiasm or intensity in preparing for the draft. The goal is still to get drafted or sign as an undrafted free agent if no team takes him.
“I definitely would have liked to have one (invitation),” he said. “I just have to go a little different route now than some of the others.”
Zimmer’s performance at the Regional Combine in Houston helped his cause.
Zimmer had an official time of 4.89 seconds in the 40-yard dash and a vertical jump of 33.5 inches. At just under 6-3 and 303 pounds, he showed agility and fluid movement for a player his size.
His overall performance got him a mention on NFL.com – “the state of Michigan's hidden secret” who was “a notch or three above all other defensive lineman candidates” at the Houston workouts.
There is more work to do, and more steps to take, but Zimmer felt like he had accomplished one of his objectives.
“I think I did get my name out there,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect in terms of coverage. This was definitely more than I expected. It was a pleasant surprise, really.
“It was a cool experience, reading tons of stuff on big-name players in NFL.com and then seeing your name there.”
The next major showcase for Zimmer is his Pro Day on March 17 at Central Michigan University’s facility in Mount Pleasant. NFL rules allow players from smaller schools to take part in the Pro Days at schools that have better facilities.
One drill Zimmer might have really stood out in was the bench press, but it was not part of the Houston workouts. There is a YouTube video of Zimmer doing 46 reps of 225 pounds.
Zimmer has been guided in his draft preparations by noted agent Kevin Poston, whose NFL client list in his long career includes Class of 2016 Hall of Famer Orlando Pace and future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson.
Zimmer actually sent out letters to agents to pick an agent and wound up hiring Poston.
“He told me he was doing his due diligence,” Poston said. “I told him I didn’t mind. That’s what he’s supposed to do. I don’t usually represent Division II players, but there’s something about this kid I like. He’s a special kid.”
Raiders' Woodson aging like fine wine
By Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press
Eighteen seasons, 39 years old.
Charles Woodson’s career began with excellence during his Heisman Trophy tenure at Michigan. Now, that career has become a case study in enduring excellence that continues to find new heights.
And the funny thing is that Woodson, now a safety in his second tour with the Oakland Raiders, doesn’t take himself too seriously on the topic, even while the Lions were singing his praises Wednesday.
“It’s all in the grapes, man,” Woodson said in a conference call with Detroit reporters, offering a sly nod to his eponymous wine label in Napa Valley, Calif. “That’s what I keep telling everybody. It’s in the grapes. Cabernet grapes.”
Woodson might not be turning water into wine, but he is turning back the clock. He is performing at a level that would make a player who is 29 jealous. He is tied for the NFL lead with five interceptions and recently chased down Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, who is 27 and had a sizable head start.
“No, not even once that I can remember did I really put a number on it,” Woodson said of his longevity. “I can honestly say that I never pictured 18 (seasons), so be to be at this point is even remarkable to me because I never set out to play a certain amount of years. I just wanted to play, I wanted to be great at the game, and however it turned out, it turned out. But I never looked this far into it.”
But now that he’s here, peering over the edge and looking at the near future, Woodson said he could see himself playing at 40 next year.
“Yeah, I guess I’m already there pretty much,” he said. “Could I see myself going another year? I guess I could. I mean, it’s right there. It’s not like it’s five years away. It’s right there, so I could see it. Would that happen? I’m not quite sure about that.”
Woodson’s contract expires after this season, so there’s no guarantee of where he might end up. But he has started all nine games this season while dealing with a shoulder injury, and he certainly isn’t giving anyone any reason to think he wouldn’t still be a major contributor.
“He looks like the ageless wonder out there,” Lions receiver Lance Moore said. “Funny, a lot of times you see a guy who’s an aging player, and he flashes and might make a play every now and again. But he seems to make plays every single game and definitely still looks like he’s in his prime and probably playing some of the best ball out of any safety in the NFL. Ball hawk. Sure-tackler. Their quarterback on defense, you could say. It’s really impressive to watch him, and it’ll be fun to play against him for sure.”
The Lions have been watching film of the Raiders this week, and they all praised his play against Brown. What made Woodson’s ability to stop Brown on a 57-yard reception especially meaningful was that he caught Brown at the 15-yard line to prevent a touchdown with 45 seconds left. Woodson took extra delight in showing teammates he could still catch a quick player.
“There was no doubt in my mind, but apparently, a few of my teammates thought it was a done deal, it was going to be a touchdown,” Woodson said. “So I’m glad I can prove even my own teammates wrong.”
He doesn’t have to convince the Lions, though.
“He’s doing a great job, and he’s still got some wheels,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “He ran down (Brown) in Pittsburgh. He’s made some plays that are really impressive on tape. He’s a really smart player, a savvy player. He’s a guy you’ve got to keep your eye on, for sure, as a quarterback.”
Johnathan Hankins, the Giants' quiet star
By Kieran Darcy
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Johnathan Hankins is the most underrated player on the New York Giants, and it's not even close.
The Giants' defense as a whole has been disappointing this season, but Hankins certainly has not been. The second-year defensive tackle from Ohio State, in his first year as a starter, has been the fifth-best defensive tackle in the entire NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
The only players ahead of him? The Rams' Aaron Donald, the Lions' Ndamukong Suh, the Buccaneers' Gerald McCoy and the Bills' Marcell Dareus -- three former Pro Bowlers and the 13th overall draft pick this past spring.
Hankins has started all 13 games, and been credited with 42 combined tackles and three passes defensed. His strength is stopping the run, but he has also been sneaky good rushing the passer, with 19 quarterback hurries and 4.5 sacks.
That may not seem like a lot. But of the 11 NFL players with double-digit sacks this season, only one is a defensive tackle (Dareus, 10). In fact, there are only five defensive tackles in the league with six or more sacks.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is pleased with Hankins' progress, and thinks he can do more, too.
"I think Johnathan’s been steady for us," Fewell said. "It’s deceiving when you watch him because you just think he’s a big man that can’t rush the passer. I think he does have pass-rush ability. I think he can push the pocket for us very well."
A second-round draft pick himself, Hankins played in 11 games as a rookie, in a reserve role. This year he has stepped up to replace Linval Joseph, whom the Giants lost via free agency.
Joseph was a good player, but he hasn't been missed thanks to Hankins, who says a year of NFL experience under his belt has made a big difference.
"I definitely feel like I’ve got a better feel of the game," Hankins said. "The game speed, anticipating what I’m getting, run or pass, that’s definitely helped me out."
The defensive line overall has been underwhelming -- the Giants are ranked third-to-last against the run (134.5 yards per game), and were near the bottom of the league in sacks until cleaning up against the woeful Jaguars and Titans the past two weeks.
They will have tough decisions to make at defensive end this offseason, about whether to re-sign Jason Pierre-Paul and keep Mathias Kiwanuka. But in Hankins they have a building block at defensive tackle -- a player who isn't worried about the lack of recognition he's getting. (He's not even among the top 10 vote-getters at his position for the Pro Bowl right now.)
"The D-tackles that are run-stuffers, they get a little attention, but not as much as guys like that," Hankins said, motioning toward Pierre-Paul's locker, which is right next to his. "But when you find a guy that can stop the run and get some sacks and pressures, that’s pretty good."
The Giants think they've found a guy like that. And Hankins, although soft-spoken, believes they have, too. But he's also got the right approach.
"Oh yeah, a sack is a big deal!" Hankins said, laughing, when asked if he enjoys rushing the quarterback. "But I feel like it’s also a good feeling when you get a tackle for loss.
"I take pride in stopping the run, and I play the pass second. That’s what they drafted me here for, so I’m going to make sure I get that done and not forget about that."
Super Bowl Winner Reaches Back to Help Future Leaders: Kareem McKenzie
Two-time Super Bowl Champion Kareem McKenzie Partners with McDonald's to Send Kids To College
Life after football. After the pads and cleats are put in the locker for the last time, many players are left to wonder “what now?” Is a peaceful life of retirement ahead of them? Or should they seek out the next game or competition to keep that fire inside of them alive?
Enter Kareem McKenzie. The New Jersey native is a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants. And along with his pursuance of a post-grad degree in public counseling (focusing in mental health), the former offensive lineman is setting his sights to help his community, as well as other communities on the East Coast. McKenzie, also the official ambassador for the Ronald McDonald House Charities African American Future Achievers Scholarship, sat with EBONY to discuss the importance of supporting the students and future leaders of our communities.
EBONY: Coming from South Jersey and understanding the opportunities or lack thereof that students face in those communities, what sparked the interest in becoming a part of the Ronald McDonald scholarship?
Kareem McKenzie: There was a commitment that I felt to the community. You don’t really hear of four-year scholarships and tuition assistance geared towards African-American students or students of Caribbean descent. One of the metrics we look for is if the student comes from a one-parent household. Being a member of the selection committee, I have a chance to read some of the submission essays to get a pulse of what our young people are doing, as well as what they’re looking to do with their education if granted the scholarship. And even looking back on the past recipients and where they’ve graduated from—schools like Brown, Columbia—and what they’ve done with their opportunity, it presses us to continue to look for the next leaders of our community and give them a chance.
EBONY: How do you feel that your athletic career and your accomplishments in football as a Super Bowl champion impact your work with the scholarship?
KM: I think it’s very unique in the fact that I myself am back in grad school now looking to focus on public counseling in mental health. It allows me to look back and realize how unprepared I was 14 years ago when I first graduated from college. So in a sense, I have as much of a student mentality as our aspirants do, and I can relate to them and see things from their perspective. I also realize the importance of being able to further your education, and finding those hidden gems in our community that could let them have that opportunity.
EBONY: With college tuition skyrocketing, is there a network of past participants that provide sort of a mentorship program or club that helps out future members?
KM: We definitely try to press upon our past recipients to come back and show the future students what can be done with our scholarship and where it can take you. We also charge them to help spread the word. Most students miss out on scholarship opportunities simply because they weren’t aware of them. So word of mouth is definitely key in our growth. And for those who don’t know, this scholarship is actually funded by the change bins in front of the register at your local McDonald’s. So the people are helping our future leaders attain their education. And as this particular scholarship is focusing on the New York/New Jersey area, it’s all about giving out inner city the fighting chance to get the education they deserve.
EBONY: So for the person reading this, whether it’s the applicant or their families, what are you looking for in a scholarship recipient?
KM: We are looking for achievers, people that are looking to do great things both academically and in their community as well. We want the best of the best, and we want to give that person the chance they deserve. If you’re aiming to be the driving force in your household, your neighborhood, your community? We want you.
Interested in applying for the Ronald McDonald House Charities African American Future Achievers Scholarship? If you live on the East Coast, go to www.rmhcnytristate.org for more information on how to apply. Applications are due 1/20/15.
Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/entertainment-culture/super-bowl-winner-reaches-back-to-help-future-leaders-837#ixzz3Nz0Lj79T
Follow us: @EbonyMag on Twitter | EbonyMag on Facebook
TWENTYFOUR - Charles Woodson
Charles Woodson’s competitive spirit has turned a hobby and charitable enterprise into a worthy Napa Cabernet contender, and his 2010 is one of the most exciting examples tasted this year. A Heisman Trophy winner who led the Michigan Wolverines to a national championship, Woodson earned a Super Bowl ring with the Green Bay Packers and is currently a safety for the Oakland Raiders. His Cabernet, named for his jersey number, comes from a 7-acre vineyard near Calistoga. Rick Ruiz and Gustavo Gonzalez are the winemaking team. 1,250 cases made.
Ty Law 'Launches' NEXT Career By Building a Business Empire
By John Ingoldsby
NORWOOD, MA April 23, 2014 – Ty Law has “launched” his NEXT career, and little did he know when we was jumping pass routes as an All-Pro cornerback, that jumping would become a burgeoning business empire for him.
In catapulting to four locations in less than 18 months, Law’s “Launch” trampoline parks are now flying high and expanding beyond New England to theMid-Atlantic States.
To oversee this expansion, the former Patriot has called upon the knowledge he gained at NFL Player Engagement’s Business Management & Entrepreneurial Program at Harvard in 2008, and just as importantly, the faculty connections he made then that are still helping him now.
“I was always fascinated by business, and wanted to create my own so I could do what I wanted to do while giving back to the community,” said the newest finalist just nominated to the Patriots Hall of Fame. “The NFL program at Harvard was a huge help in teaching me how I should look at business, and how they make money, and when I saw the opportunity to perfect the trampoline park concept, I said ‘this is me.’”
But the Aliquippa,Pennsylvaniaproduct didn’t just learn and leave at Harvard, he connected.
“The relationships I built there became integral to my future, and I went back there to bounce ideas offHarvardBusinessSchoolfaculty members whom I got to know, and one was from my hometown and another was a former Patriots executive.”
It was ideas early on, but became business plans later.
“That experience at Harvard helped me with my business plan, particularly having Harvard faculty review my strategy, and I certainly consider their expertise a blessing as I transition to life after football,” said the 15-year NFL veteran.
But expertise is only as valuable as the idea to which it is applied, and for Law, the light bulb went off early.
“I bought a trampoline for my children to use in the backyard, and I simply could not get them off it,” said theUniversityofMichiganalumnus. “This struck me, since we had other toys that they tired of quickly and never touched again.”
That was the beginning, and then there was a breakthrough.
“My son had a birthday coming up, and he wanted to go to a trampoline park, so he told me about one in the area, and I thought “cool, let’s check it out. So I took him to it, and the businessman in me thought ‘Wow,’” he recalled.
That wow moment then just grew from there.
“My head just started spinning, and since I was searching for something at that time, I decided to do some research to see how popular these parks were, and started visiting different facilities,” he exclaimed. “I liked what I saw, and considered buying a franchise, but none captured what I thought they could be, so I started my own company.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
“I called a business partner, who said, ‘if you do it, I’m in,” and we went ahead with our game plan of wanting to start something from scratch and do something special,” said Law.
What he created is indeed something special, as this writer witnessed on a frigid New England Sunday when visiting the Norwood, Massachusettslocation (www.launchnorwood.com). Located just a long Tom Brady pass down Route 1 from Gillette Stadium, overflow crowds were literally bouncing off the walls in the ultra-high energy atmosphere.
“We created our own concept that would get the kids off the couch while keeping the parents happy as well by offering a family experience, featuring Wi-Fi, food such as pizza and Pepsi, TV, music, and an arcade for kids waiting to use the trampolines,” stated Law.
Opened in December, 2013,Norwoodjoins Law’s other “Launch” locations inWarwick,Rhode Island,Hartford,Connecticut, andNashua,New Hampshire.
NEXT up, the Mid-Atlantic States, where Law has been scouting potential parks in thePhiladelphiaandNew Yorkareas.
If history holds, Law’s leap into this new region will lift off like it did inNew England.
“As I learned playing in the NFL, it’s all about the experience, which is exactly what we have created with ‘Launch,’” emphasized Law.
Former La. Tech star Quinton Patton keeps moving
By Jason Pugh
RUSTON—Quinton Patton knows he is fast.
What he didn't realize is a calendar flips almost as fast as his 40 time.
"I didn't know it was going to go this fast," Patton said of the three months that have passed since his Louisiana Tech career ended. "In December, when they said we had no bowl game, I left Tech about three or four days after that, and it's just been a blur. You can't take any days for granted. You've always got to move forward with it."
Patton has moved forward, northward and westward since finishing his Bulldogs career.
Last month, he took part in the NFL combine with four Louisiana Tech teammates, as each tried to improve his NFL draft stock.
"There's great talent everywhere," said Patton, who was recognized for his two-year Bulldogs career during the No. 25-ranked Louisiana Tech men's basketball team's win againstUtahStateon Thursday.
"When it comes together, it just makes you want to work harder on everything. Lifting weights, running routes, your speed, everything, you just want to do everything to the fullest."
Patton said his focus for the combine workouts inIndianapoliswas perfecting his route-
During his standout senior season, Patton accrued plenty of yardage after the catch in former Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes' controlled passing attack.
Patton came away pleased with the way he performed on the field inIndianapolis, but he saw room for improvement in other facets.
"I could have done better in my bench press," Patton said. "I only did eight reps (of 225 pounds). A receiver should be strong, but it really doesn't matter on the bench."
He also left the combine with the same appreciation he had for his Bulldogs quarterback Colby Cameron.
Cameron's appearances near the top of the quarterback lists in the three-cone drill and other skill tests surprised some. Patton wasn't among them.
"I wasn't surprised at any of that," Patton said. "I feel like if we were at a bigger school, Colby would probably be the No. 1 pick in the draft."
Cameron and Patton will have one more chance to showcase the chemistry they built together the past two years inRustonwhen they take part in Louisiana Tech's pro day March 26 inRuston.
To keep himself in shape, Patton is working out at Houston CES. Shortly after arriving inHouston, Patton learned his good friend and former Louisiana Tech teammate Myles White would be by his side at the workout center.
"My agent put me down there," said Patton, who caught 104 passes for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior. "Little did I know, Myles White's agent put him down there, so me and Myles are going back and forth getting each other better, just like (in Ruston). You already know how it is between us two."
The world of football featured in Eighth Annual Soifer Lecture
By Roberta M. Gubbins - Legal News
“Sports is a big business,” said Kevin Poston speaking to a large crowd gathered at noon on October 1st for the Eighth annual Thomas M. Cooley Howard Soifer Memorial Lecture in sports and entertainment law. Poston, President and CEO, DEAL Elite Athletic Management represents numerous professional NFL players.
Poston began his discussion, held at theCooleyCenterinLansing, noting that he did not have any idea that he would be a sports agent when he graduated from law school. His early career took him in an entirely different direction, handling complicated real estate transactions. He became a partner at Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone and later a shareholder with Miro, Miro and Weiner, but, eventually, he was drawn to the world of sports.
Athletes, particularly in Football, have a short career, he explained. “You get a sports scholarship, you get a degree, you may be a pro,” but the average sports career of an NFL player is 3.42 years. Players who have spent their entire lives playing a particular sport can be finished at 22 and, in spite of the amount of money they earn, can “be broke by the time they are 28.”
Poston sees his job as an agent as one of advisor. “My job is to advise you (the player) in your career.”
When the sports client has to make the change from a player to a non-player, the agent must not simply say “yes. My job is to represent the athlete and to be fair with him.” And being fair may be saying “no.”
“A sport’s agent is more than someone who just negotiates a contract,” said Poston, “at the end of the day my primary job is to advise my clients. Remember (a player’s) career is over by the time they are 30 and if their projected life is until at least 80, they have 50 more years to live. My job is to make sure that young man makes a successful transition from athlete to retirement.”
Poston is proud that to say that all his athletes, “who stayed with me and listened” are doing well. He has been in this business for 25 years and has enjoyed every minute of it. The agent he concluded is not simply a contract negotiator; he is a friend, a psychologist, a career counselor, a brother—a confidante to his client.
“These lectures,” said Jim Robb, Associate Dean for Development and Alumni relations, “were established in memory of a great lawyer and a great man in our community, the late Howard Soifer.”
Howard Soifer was born in the Bronx and moved toMonsey,New Yorkin 1963. Following graduation from the Spring Valley High School Class of 1967, he attended theUniversityofToledofor two years and received his undergraduate degree fromLong IslandUniversityinBrooklyn. Soifer was a proud 1977 graduate ofCooleyLawSchoolinLansing,Mich.
He was an accomplished lawyer, and a shareholder in the firm of Loomis, Ewert, Parsley, Davis & Gotting, P.C., until the time of his death on January 29, 2003 at the age of 53. More than anything, Howard loved sports. Later in his career, Howard’s passion for basketball, baseball, and football led him to represent several prominent professional athletes. He was proud to have negotiated a $2.5 million donation toMichiganStateUniversityby Steve Smith, NBA champion, MSU All-Star, client, and close friend, which was and remains the largest gift from a professional athlete to his alma mater.
Sandy Soifer, Howard Soifer’s wife and Executive Director of the Michigan Women’sHistoricalCenterand Hall of Fame, spoke of Howard, saying “Howard was passionate about his family, the law and sports. Howard will be remembered for his great sense of humor, his loyalty, integrity and strength.”
Kevin Poston, DEAL Sports Agency, helps clients become financially secure in the short and long term. He works with his clients so they become role models, businessmen and philanthropists. He also teaches law atWayneStateUniversityinDetroit. He is a graduate ofFiskUniversityand earned his J.D. at Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University.
Johnathan Hankins - He's big on football
By Tim May
Massive defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins has a passion for, and is a student of, the game
Johnathan Hankins was 7 years old, and the tears were flowing.
“He came to his mother, and he was crying, and she was wanting to know what was wrong, was he hurt, and he said nothing was hurt,” Johnathan’s father, James Ward, recalled the other day. “He said he was crying because he loved football so much.
"For a kid 7 years old, saying how much he loved this game, how much he wanted to keep playing this game as long as he can, that says a lot about him, coming out like that, not holding anything back.”
Ohio State fans now know Hankins as “Big Hank,” the 320-pound junior defensive lineman from Detroit. Whether he is in the process of playing his last two games for the Buckeyes, today at Wisconsin and next week against Michigan, remains to be seen.
But that passion he showed as a 7-year-old has never waned. Coupled with his over-large size and penchant for studying the game, Hankins will be standing at the corner of “leave or don’t leave for the NFL” once the season is done.
“I’m going to wait to the end of year on that,” Hankins said. “I want to focus on these two games I’ve got ahead of me and not pay too much attention to that talk.
“But it is good to be recognized as one of the top players. When the time comes, I’m going to make that decision with my family.”
There will be introspection, and possibly some tears, at that family meeting. Because, as his mother pointed out, Hankins always has been a caring soul, even now as a third-year college man.
“He hasn’t changed too much,” Louise Ward said. “He’s still Johnathan. He’s still a humble, caring, trustworthy young man.”
For the record, James and Louise Ward have been devoted to each other for 30 years, James said, but they didn’t formally marry until after Johnathan, their third child, was born. Thus, Johnathan and his two older brothers, James and Robert, carry their mother’s maiden name of Hankins.
Years ago, those three sons and their dad wore paths into the grass outside their home, where the passion for football was planted.
“I started him off playing in the backyard with his two older brothers,” James Ward said. “Everything I taught him, and that his coaches from then on taught him, like his high-school coach and now the coaches at Ohio State — he took everything in. He was in the slot when he was 5, then he became a tailback, then he kept growing into a lineman.”
Hankins became a blue-chip defensive tackle, one of those quick, big-bodied players that are among the most difficult prospects for colleges to find. But when then-Ohio State defensive coordinator and line coach Jim Heacock went recruiting Hankins, he found a big man eager to learn.
“He came here on his official visit, and while other guys were taking tours of the campus or whatnot, he just wanted to watch our defensive line videos,” said Heacock, now temporarily retired. “You don’t see that very often.”
Such curiosity started when Hankins was in pee-wee ball and was nurtured by his father.
“I would record all of his games, we’d sit and watch them together and look at things he did right and wrong, and that was all the way through high school,” James Ward said. “He has been doing that since he was 7 years old.”
Those habits learned early in life have served him well at Ohio State.
“I definitely have wanted to gain as much information as I could, learn the ins and outs about the game, about my body, about working out,” Hankins said. “I think I did a pretty good job of that.
“And learning from guys like John Simon, and Cam Heyward (now with the Pittsburgh Steelers), trying to practice the way they practice, the intensity they have every day, I feel like I have been doing a pretty good job of that, too. I’ve just been trying to be a good player and a leader for this team. That has been my goal.”
Hankins didn’t want simply to pass through on his way to someplace else. He said he knew that having the chance to suit up for Ohio State was about more than just playing the game.
“Being at Ohio State, knowing the tradition here of the D-linemen they’d had, and linebackers, and the pride of the defense, it drove me to want to be one of those players, one of those guys they talk about after you’re gone,” Hankins said. “With the training staff, the coaching staff, the support staff they have here, I felt like I had the opportunity to do that. I feel like I am maximizing all the people that I have here.”
His new head coach, Urban Meyer, a taskmaster extraordinaire, was struck by Hankins’ dedication from the start. From the classroom to the winter workouts earlier this year, Hankins kept his nose in it, and was impressive as more than just a player.
“He is an even better person,” Meyer said. “It’s so great to see his development as a young man. And he’s so talented. He still has not reached a point where he’s a finished product.”
Hankins understands that. From 5 years old, football has been a constant learning experience, but now it’s paying personal dividends.
Mel Kiper Jr., a noted NFL draft analyst for ESPN, recently listed Hankins as the top prospect in the Big Ten, and had him No.8 overall on his draft board.
“When I first came here, not too many people knew about me,” Hankins said. “Now I’m a junior, and just hearing my name out there, it’s kind of exciting. It’s also definitely motivation for me to do well.
“I feel like all the work I’ve put into it for a long time, and all the ways Ohio State has helped me get better, it’s starting to show.”
As for the parents, just getting to watch Johnathan play on one of college football’s premier stages the past three seasons, “It’s wonderful,” Louise Ward said.
James Ward agreed. A longtime Ohio State fan “all the way back to the Archie Griffin days,” he said watching his son roam the same grounds has been stirring. It’s a long way from that backyard in Detroit.
“When it gets to be the third quarter, I want the game to start all over again because I don’t want to go home,” James said. “I just like to see him play.”
Hardaway Enough to Rise Above 'Air' Jordan
By Bruce Horovitz
USA Today Money Section |
Posted: April 9, 1996
Michael Jordan is no longer No. 1. Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, the Orlando Magic superstar, has outscored the Chicago Bulls star as the meet popular athlete ranked by teens in a study to be released today by the research firm Teenage Research Unlimited.
Jordan tied for second with Detroit Piston Grant Hill.
Jordan had ranked No. 1 for eight consecutive years on the nation mail-in survey of 2,000 teens.
Popularity with teens is crucial for the pro athletes in search of lucrative marketing careers. After all, it is teens who purchase most of the sneakers, soft drinks and athletic wear that pro athletes endorse.
But it isn't always on-the-court feats that propel an athlete's image. "Popularity with teens often has to do with who is coolest in ads, "says Peter Zollo, president of Teenage Research. Also, he noted, teens generally consider Hardaway, who is 23, to be more their contemporary than Jordan, who is 33.
Hardaway ranked 16th in last year's teen year's teen poll. But he has since appeared in six humorous "Lil' Penny" TV spots for Nike that feature him speaking to a tiny, lifelike doll that represents his alter ego.
Jordan, whose marketing career began with Nike, is now appearing in just one Nike spot. "It's a no-lose situation for us," says Nike spokesman Erin Patton. "But I suppose there are young kids who are disconnected from Michael's past heroics."
Others on the top 50 list: San Francisco 49ers receiver Jerry Rice and baseball's Cal Ripken Jr. (tied for third); Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith (forth).
One very familiar athlete didn't fare so well. Orlando Magic star Shaquille O'Neal fell to 15th from No. 7.
Tennis' Steffi Graf was the top woman, ranked 34th.
Packers reach agreement with Charles Woodson
By Len Pasquarelli ESPN.com
Four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson, one of the last premium players remaining in the free agent market but also a potential gamble given his recent injury history, reached a contract agreement on Wednesday evening with the Green Bay Packers, league sources confirmed.
The agreement is a seven-year deal that can be worth as much as $52 million, ESPN.com's Michael Smith reports. Woodson will make $10.5 million in the first year of the deal and $18 million over the first three years. Woodson will also receive a $3 million bonus if he is selected to the Pro Bowl in two of the first three years of the contract.
Notable is that the agreement came one day after quarterback Brett Favre, who urged Packers executives to make some high-profile additions to the roster in the offseason, apprised Green Bay officials that he will return for a 16th season in 2006. It is not believed that Favre's decision was based on any inkling that the Packers were about to land Woodson.
Woodson chose the Packers over the Tampa Bay Bucs, essentially the only other team that demonstrated legitimate interest in him since he became an unrestricted free agent last month. Woodson, 29, had played his entire eight-year career with the Oakland Raiders, who took him in the first round of the 1998 draft.
Oakland made no attempt to re-sign Woodson.
In terms of name value, Woodson is clearly the Packers' most significant offseason addition. Whether his game still lives up to Woodson's name, however, is questionable, at least based on the last two seasons. The former University of Michigan star and 1997 Heisman Trophy winner was designated by the Raiders as a franchise player each of the last two seasons. But Woodson suffered injuries in both of those seasons, finished each year on injured reserve, and appeared in just 19 games. In fact, Woodson, sidelined by knee and hip injuries in 2004 and by a broken leg in 2005, has not played a full 16-game schedule since 2001. He suffered the broken leg in a game against Buffalo last Oct. 23, and made just six appearances, a career low. The injuries were costly to the Raiders on the field but also off it. With the two consecutive franchise designations, Woodson earned a total of $19.32 million in 2004-2005. The return on that pricey investment: Just 103 tackles two interceptions and 11 passes defensed.
Deal suits Redd : Contract is richest in team history
By CHARLES F. GARDNER
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel |
Posted: Aug. 13, 2005
St. Francis – Michael Redd certainly dressed the part of a $91 million man on Saturday afternoon at the Cousins Center.
Resplendent in a white suit and bright blue tie, Redd reflected on "one of the greatest days of my life" after signing a six-year maximum salary contract to remain with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Redd's agent Kevin Poston, said the deal was worth $90.9 million (an average annual salary of $15.15 million), making it the richest contract in Bucks history.
It was a day honestly never envisioned by Redd, the former Ohio State star who went from an unheralded second-round draft pick to a National Basketball Association all-star and a highly sought free agent.
"I remember the first day I came in to the facility," Redd said of his introduction to the Bucks in the fall of 2000. "I was thinking to myself, how am I going to make this team?
"You've got Ray Allen here, Glenn Robinson, Tim Thomas, Sam Cassell, Lindsey Hunter. I was like, 'How in the world am I going to make this happen?' I just worked and worked and was determined to be a good NBA player, and Milwaukee hung with me."
"I kept working hard, one thing happened after another, and here we are today."
Redd said his loyalty to the Bucks and his trust in team owner Herb Kohl and general manager Larry Harris played a key part in the decision.
Poston announced in early July that Redd had agreed to return to the Bucks, but no contract could be signed until the league moratorium ended on Aug. 2.
The Cleveland Cavaliers also made a strong bid to sign the Columbus, Ohio, native, while trying to persuade him to join all-star LeBron James.
"In my heart of hearts, I wanted to come back here in Milwaukee," Redd said. "Obviously I went to Cleveland to visit. It just didn't sit right. I had to do that; it also was in my heart. But eventually staying here in Milwaukee was the one thing I wanted to do."
Redd's rapid rise in five years in the NBA has been well-documented, but now he and the Bucks are looking ahead. Redd will be expected to play a leadership role on a revamped team that is seeking a return to the playoffs next season. "As I said to him upstairs, 'The real work starts now,'" said Kohl. "He has been rewarded with a great, great contract. It's for what he's going to be doing in the next six years, not only in appreciation for what he's done in the last five."
"And he understands that's a big responsibility. He's a leader on a team that has great aspirations."
Redd, who will turn 26 on Aug. 24, knows more will be expected of him. But with the Bucks' off-season additions, including free agent Bobby Simmons and No. 1 draft pick Andrew Bogut, the shooting guard doesn't necessarily have to improve his scoring average (23.0 points per game last season) to contribute at a higher level.
"I challenge him as being a 20-point scorer and we win more than41 or 42 games," Harris said. "He sacrifices a point or two, and our wins go up."
"Now I'm not against him getting 25 some nights, and he can go get some 40s, too, believe me."
Redd's three-point shooting percentage dipped from 44% during the 2002-'03 season to 35% the following season and 35.5 last year.
But Harris said he believes Redd is one of the top perimeter shooters in the game along with Seattle's Ray Allen and Sacramento's Peja Stojakovic.
"You've got to give credit to defenses on the other teams," Harris said. "Michael will have learned from last season how to adjust to some of that."
"I remember two times against Kobe (Bryant), where Kobe tried to lock him down like you wouldn't believe. Now we have tried to surround him with some better players. That will take away some of the pressures he was feeling last year."
Redd said his lowered three-point percentage does not worry him. He shot a respectable 44% on all field goal attempts and remained one of the top clutch shooters in the league.
"I've shot less threes in the last two years," Redd said. "People don't let me shoot threes anymore; it's just the reality."
"I had to diversify my game. I had to start going to the hole and getting to the free throw line, get offensive rebounds. If they try to take one thing away from you, go to another option or two options."
Kohl said he did not hesitate to offer Redd such a lucrative contract.
"He's a special guy," the Bucks owner said. "He will do whatever is necessary to maximize the team, and that's really important.
"You don't want your highest-paid person to be a selfish person or someone who is self-absorbed. Michael is not. Michael is interested in being part of a winning organization."
VIKINGS REWARD HENDERSON WITH BIG DEAL
By Judd Zulgad
Star Tribune |
Posted: December 15, 2006
E.J. Henderson said Thursday that even though he was due to hit the unrestricted free-agent market this offseason, he "loved" it in Minnesota and his desire was to remain with the Vikings. A day later, Henderson made that a reality when signed a five-year deal that, according to people with knowledge of the situation, is worth more than $25 million.
The Vikings rewarded the linebacker with a contract that includes $10 million in guarantees with three games remaining in what has been his most productive NFL season.
Henderson enters Sunday's game against the New York Jets with a team-leader 108 tackles and also has established career highs in sacks (three), interceptions (his first two in the NFL) and quarterback hurries (15).
"There really was no reason not to," do this, said Henderson's agent, Kevin Poston, who declined to give any contract figures. "They liked him, he liked them, the number was fair. What E.J. was seeking was a fair-market-value deal."
Henderson becomes the fourth pending free agent on the Vikings to receive a contract extension since September. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie, long-snapper Cullen Loeffler and tight end/fullback Jeff Dugan also are on the list. Dugan's five-year, $4.25 million deal was announced this week.
"It feels good to have the Vikings show their confidence in me by making this kind of commitment," Henderson told the Vikings' website. "I feel good about this team and where we are going. It's good to know I will be here for the next several years, and hopefully I end my career as a Viking."
A second-round pick by the Vikings in 2003 out of Maryland, Henderson had a team-leading 125 tackles playing middle linebacker in his second season. He was moved to weak-side linebacker during training camp in 2005 and started 14 of the 15 games he played, finishing second on the ream with 102 tackles.
Henderson's maturity at the weak-side position has taken another step this season playing in the scheme installed by new defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.
That success certainly would have made it interesting for Henderson to test free agency. "You always know the market is there and look at each individual situation, and he could have done that," said Poston, who opened talks with the Vikings about a month ago. "But at the end of the day you want to get paid what you're worth, and we think he has."
Henderson also might get his wish to play middle linebacker again --"I think that's my natural spot," he said – starting next season. Napoleon Harris, who starts in the middle, will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Moving Henderson to his old spot would open a place for first-round pick Chad Greenway on the weak side. Greenway is expected to be recovered from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament by this spring. Those two, along with Ben Leber, who signed a five-year, $20 million free-agent deal with the Vikings last March, could make up the starting linebacker corps next season.
With Henderson's deal done, another major contract looming on the horizon is standout defensive tackle Kevin Williams. Williams can be an unrestricted free agent after the 2007 season, but most NFL teams – the Vikings included – prefer to get a contract done long before that point. However, there has been no known progress toward an extension for Williams.
Sports Agent is All About Family: The Detroit News
By Tim Twentyman
The Detroit News |
Posted: Wednesday, January 25, 2008
Kevin Poston's home office is a shrine to the athletes' lives he has helped change.
Signed basketballs, game jerseys, helmets, sports magazine covers, trophies and photos are spread out all over his plush Farmington Hills office.
Almost out of place, the sports agent from Saginaw sits in jeans and a company logo sweat shirt talking multimillion-dollar contracts with the NFL executives. A very practical Poston has become extremely successful in this business because of his laid-back demeanor and the way he treats his athletes – like family.
Family and faith are what Poston is all about.
"People asked me how I couldn't be at Charles Rogers' first NFL game with the Lions," he said. "My son had a football game at the same time, and I was one of the coaches. I finished my son's game and then (drove) to Ford Field, but Charles knew, family comes first. I love those guys and they know it, but I don't have to show up for a game to prove that."
That type of family mentality has built quite a portfolio of successful clients for Poston.
Co-owner of Professional Sports Planning Inc. on Harwich in Farmington Hills with his brother Carl, Poston represents high-profile people who include Charles Woodson (Oakland Raiders), Ty Law (New York Jets), Michael Redd (Milwaukee Bucks), Charles Rogers (Detroit Lions), LaVar Arrington (Washington Redskins), Shawn Merriman (San Diego Chargers) and Kellen Winslow Jr. (Cleveland Browns).
"Kevin is a guy you can talk to anytime about any issue," said Redd, an All-Star guard for the NBA's Bucks. "He really cares about all of his clients and he is going to fight for you. Our relationship runs deeper than athletics. It's a true friendship."
Poston is the third of four boys who grew up in Saginaw after his parents moved from Detroit in 1955.
In 1981, he earned a bachelor's degree in business from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. He earned a law degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern in Houston in 1985.
By the early 1990s, he was a partner and shareholder with Miro Miro and Weiner in Bloomfield Hills, specializing in real-estate law.
Poston and his brother first considered sports representation in the 1980s and had PSP up and running by 1995.
"We didn't talk to No. 1 picks or first rounders at first; we were just trying to get into the business," Poston said. "I remember being very poor for a period. People look at it now and say ‘look at these guys you represent' and ‘look what you do.'"
Poston's first client was Anthony Landry, a 10th round pick (253rd overall) in 1990, who was eventually cut by the New England Patriots.
"A Houston Oilers coach asked me why I was going to leave a low firm to deal with fickle athletes," Poston said. "He didn't think I was going to do well in this business because I didn't have the sleaze factor."
The sleazy persona of a jet-setting agent with $1,000 suits and sports cars is not Poston's reality and the reality of most agents. Movies like "Jerry Maguire" and HBO's hit series "Arliss" don't accurately represent the lives of Poston and most other agents, Poston said.
Poston is a straightforward guy who spends most of his days in blue jeans and sweat shirts on the phone at his home office. But don't let the laid-back persona fool you. When he enters a boardroom, it is all business.
Poston's background in law and contract negations has served his clients well. Known as a shark in the boardroom by players and general managers, Poston has gotten his clients some of the richest contracts in sports.
Redd, who is averaging nearly 25 points per game this season, signed a $91 million guaranteed contract in the off-season. He is the first second-round pick to ever sign a NBA maximum contract.
"Kevin has a reputation of working hard with management, buy my experience with him has been absolutely positive," said A.J. Smith, executive president of the Sand Diego Chargers.
"Someone once compared me to Johnnie Cochran and asked me if I was a better lawyer than Johnnie. I told them that in a courtroom, Johnnie would whoop me; he's a courtroom lawyer," Poston said. "But in a boardroom, boy, Johnnie would have been in trouble in a boardroom."
PENNY, DOLLARS ALL MAKE SENSE
By Bob Young
The Arizona Republic |
Posted: Friday, August 6, 1999
PENNY, DOLLARS ALL MAKE SENSE
By Bob Young, The Arizona Republic | Friday, August 6, 1999
After sweating out the Orlando Magic's last-minute waffling, the Suns finally got their man Thursday, competing a block-buster trade for All-Star guard Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway.
The two clubs competed a sign-and-trade deal that gives Phoenix what could be the NBA's best backcourt and Hardaway a seven-year, $86.7 million contract.
As expected, the Suns shipped veteran forward Danny Manning, second-year forward Pat Garrity and two first-round draft picks to the Magic.
The two picks are conditional. They could fall anywhere from next season's draft to 2006, but NBA rules do not allow a team to go without a first-round pick for two consecutive seasons. And there are protections on the second pick should it fall high in the draft. Hardaway, a 6-foot-7 four-time All-Star guard, joins Suns playmaker Jason Kidd, 26, to make up a formidable guard tandem that the club believes will propel the Suns into contention again in the fast-improving Western Conference.
The Suns believed they had a deal as early as Tuesday, but Orlando Coach Doc Rivers apparently wasn't ready to go along with management's decision to gut the team and completely rebuild.
And the Magic had to consider the possibility that they're giving up on a 28-year-old star, who could return to his first-team All-NBA form of a few years ago and leave the Orlando franchise red-faced.
"I have to thank Orlando," Hardaway said. "They didn't have to do this deal if they didn't want to. We had a long talk and agreed it was best for me to start a new career and I wanted to do it in Phoenix."
And he'll be the highest-paid player in franchise history for it.
Hardaway's contract will pay him $9million this season, $10.125 million, $11.26 million, $12.385 million, $13.51 million, $14.635 million and, in the final year, $15.76 million. That totals $86.675 million over the life of the contract – an average of $12.4 million a season.
The deal – the same contract the Suns offered Antonio McDyess last summer – easily surpasses the six-year, $58.5 million contract signed last summer by Tom Gugliotta.
The Magic tried to work deals with the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors, but those teams and perhaps others dropped out of the bidding. The Suns, meanwhile, stuck with their offer of Manning, Garrity and the picks.
Hardaway started the bidding when he opted out of the final three years in his opted out of the final three years in his contract with the Magic to test free agency or broker a sign-and-trade. But few teams had the money under the league's complicated salary cap to pay him the maximum contract allowed.
The Suns were over the salary cap after signing Gugliotta last summer and had only one option – a sign-and-trade.
The third overall pick in the 1993 draft, Hardaway was traded by Golden State to Orlando after that draft, where he joined Shaquille O'Neal. The Magic was swept in the 1995 Finals by the Houston Rockets, but appeared to have a young nucleus of players who would keep the Magic among the league's elite teams.
But O'Neal departed as a free agent for Los Angeles in 1996. Then Hardaway took most of the blame when former Coach Brian Hill was fired, and missed most of the 1997-98 seasons because of knee and calf injuries. Last season, he reportedly clashed with then-Magic Coach Chuck Daly, who resigned after the 1999 season.
Hardaway said he "did things in Orlando that are out of character for myself," but that didn't include trying to get his coaches fired.
Suns Coach Danny Ainge, who got to know Hardaway when Ainge was an analyst for Turner Sports, said he never had any hesitation about making the deal.
"Never for a second did I think I would have difficulty with Penny," Ainge said. "All players are different, and sometimes you have to treat them differently."
MAGIC'S COMPLICATED FINANCING CAPTURES STAR-POWERED HARDAWAY
THE ORLANDO SENTINEL | Posted: October 8, 1993
This was taking too long. But all Anfernee Hardaway could do was wait, spending most of the day and night in an Orlando hotel room Thursday, playing video games and trying to sleep.
Then, the wake-up-call.
"The phone rang. It was over. They said the deal was done," said Hardaway, the Orlando Magic's first-round draft pick (No. 3 overall), at a late-night news conference. "I had been worried, because I thought something had gone wrong. I thought that after all the time, I wasn't going to sign. It was just taking too long."
It took the NBA seven hours to approve the contract. There has never been one quite like it. The Magic beat the salary cap again and Hardaway's agents, Carl and Kevin Poston, used the system to create a deal that gives the 6-foot-7 guard $45.175 million over 13 years, plus a $20 million line of credit and the option to escape his contract at any time. It's a creative $65 million package no one thought possible, one that took the NBA lawyers time to digest.
"It's a unique deal," said Bob Vander Weide, the Magic's vice president of basketball operations. "It took some time. I think that stamina, the effort to get this done is some way the real breakthrough. …I don't think that at the beginning of the week anyone thought we'd be here tonight."
Negotiations had nearly broken off after the first fact-to-face meetings Monday, with Hardaway's agent exiting the Orlando Arena at midnight, tired and irritated at the stalemate that put the two sides $30 million apart. The Postons were ready to take the next flight out of Orlando.
Magic player personnel director, John Gabriel, was said to have convinced the Postons to stay. Most observers felt if the two agents left, it was unlikely they'd be seen or heard from again before training camp, which opens today in DeLand with Hardaway in uniform.
"I really wanted to be in camp," Hardaway said. "Every one worked very hard to get me here. It has been a tough couple of weeks. The pressure was building. It's just a big relief now. Now I can forget about all this (the negotiations) and concentrate on basketball."
That's what he does best. But he also is a personable 22-year-old, someone the public will get a chance to know now that the ugly side of being a lottery pick – the negotiations – has ended.
And the negotiations are over because the Magic – who worked a salary cap coup last year to sign Shaquille O'Neal – and the Postons pulled off an impressive deal. The Postons negotiated a contract few thought was possible: getting fair market value under a salary cap – which prohibits teams from spending more than the league-determined amount to pay its players.
It took a lot of creative contract writing on both sides, with three elements leading to the agreement:
-A $20 million line of credit will be extended to Hardaway by the Magic, which helps make up the difference between the $1.243 million slot the team had available to offer through the Brain Williams trade and the $2.8 million market value for Hardaway. The line of credit will be pro-rated over the life of the contract and whatever is borrowed will have to be paid back by Hardaway. However, the Magic are likely to make up for whatever is borrowed by overcompensating Hardaway in his next contract.
-An unusual escape clause allows Hardaway to pick the year he wants to get out of the contract and become a restricted free agent after any year. That allows the Magic to re-sign him under a league exception to the salary cap. The fact that Hardaway can pick his year to get out of the contract gives him leverage when re-signing. For example, if he should become the NBA Rookie of the Year, he'd want to take a 1-year escape because he could almost name his price the next year.
-A 13-year deal gets the most out of the $1.243 million slot, providing enough guaranteed money to give Hardaway financial security should an injury end his career. It also protects Hardaway should he perform badly.
"I know the expectations and I'm going to do whatever I can to make this team better," said Hardaway, whose quickness and Michael Jordan – like game helped him average 22.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.4 assists last season at Memphis State.
"But I know I have a lot to learn. I'm going to be looking at guys like (point guard) Scott Skiles.
"Now that it's over, I'm just ready to play," Hardaway said. "Hopefully, I can show the fans here a great time."
Peterson Signs Big Free Agent Contract with Seattle: Associated Press (Julian Peterson)
Associated Press | Posted: Monday, March 27, 2006
KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Julian Peterson signed his $54 million, seven-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, a full week after he and the NFC champions agreed to it.
But what's one more week for a deal the two-time Pro Bowler has been seeking for years?
Peterson's agent, Kevin Poston, said last week that Peterson's deal with Seattle includes $18.5 million guaranteed. The contract is worth $10 million in the first year. It could go to $18.4 million after two years and $23.5 million after three.
It is the first megabucks, multiyear contract of Peterson's seven-year NFL career.
"This is really what I was looking for," Peterson said Monday in a conference call, referring to a quest that began in 2004. "This is the perfect situation for me."
It was far from perfect before each of the previous two seasons, when the San Francisco 49ers made him their franchise player. Twice they restricted him from signing with the highest bidder on the free-agent market. He was seeking at least $20 million guaranteed each time, only to sign mandated, one-year tender offers at about one-fourth that sum. Peterson also tore his left Achilles five games into the 2004 season. That slowed him throughout most of last season.
Then last month, San Francisco finally set Peterson free, declining to absorb his potential $8.6 million cost for 2006.
Talk about liberating: Peterson went from a team that has gone 6-26 the last two seasons -- "the whole ship kind of sunk," he said -- to the Seahawks. They are reloading an already improved defense, having also re-signed 2005 sack leader Rocky Bernard. They also re-signed league MVP Shaun Alexander on offense and are hoping for a return to the Super Bowl.
"They made it loud and clear that they wanted to get back to the Super Bowl and try to win it," Peterson said. "That's what I am trying to. I have never won a Super Bowl, never won any championship in my life. Always came in second."
He's No. 1 in the Seahawks' plans for play-making linebacker. He essentially replaces 2005 free-agent acquisition Jamie Sharper, who developed a knee infection last midseason and never returned. That led to the emergence of rookie Leroy Hill.
Peterson will start opposite Hill and next to Pro Bowl inside linebacker Lofa Tatupu, the team's bigger rookie star from last season. Peterson hinted he'll even be a cornerback, if need be. He has sometimes played that position in practice.
"I can jam up receivers pretty good," he said, adding he wouldn't mind covering tight ends downfield by himself.
Seattle will settle for Peterson returning to the freelancing play maker and pass rusher role he filled before the torn Achilles limited him in '04 and new San Francisco coach Mike Nolan's schemes structured him in '05.
Peterson, a native of Maryland who starred at Michigan State, said he has friends in Seattle. One is former 49ers teammate Jimmy Williams, now a Seahawks defensive back. Williams sold Peterson on how Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, a former San Francisco assistant, has created a family atmosphere similar to what Peterson said the 49ers had under former coach Steve Mariucci, who was fired following the 2002 season.
"I can tell you one thing, you will get a player who is going to be playing 100 percent and giving it his all no matter what the circumstances are," Peterson said. "I just play the game the way it is supposed to be played."
The Seahawks also announced they completed a $13 million, five-year contract with former New England offensive lineman Tom Ashworth.
Trading Places: New York Post (Kareem McKenzie)
By Paul Schwartz
New York Post |
Posted: March 5, 2005
For those impatient Jets fans waiting for big news in free agency or at the very least continue to hold out hopes that one day, they will have a home field to call their own, avert your eyes when reading this remark from Kareem McKenzie, the newest Giants offensive lineman.
McKenzie is a New Jersey native who yesterday left the Jets for the Giants and he's thrilled at the move.
"I'm coming back over to Jersey," McKenzie said, "and I finally have a home stadium where you actually are at home."
A day after the Giants imported a starting middle linebacker in Antonio Pierce, they addressed their most glaring need by adding a significant piece to their offensive line. The team wined and dined McKenzie Thursday night at Smith & Wollensky in Manhattan and yesterday signed him to a seven-year, $37.75 million contract that includes a signing bonus of $12.5 million – the third-highest in team history. His agent, Kevin Poston, said the deal makes McKenzie the highest-paid right tackle in the NFL.
"This organization wants to win, they have a good history of it if you discount the last two years," McKenzie said. "They're a few pieces away from being in the playoffs again."
The Giants believe McKenzie is one of those pieces. The Jets tried to re-sign him during the season but made little or no attempt during free agency, even though he was a sturdy performer for them. He started 48 consecutive games at right tackle, the spot he'll play for the Giants, refuting speculation that they might experiment by moving him to the left side and switch Luke Petitgout back to the right side.
"You have to make your mind up if you're going to spend this kind of money you're not projecting anybody," explained GM Ernie Accorsi.
McKenzie, who was turns 26 on May 24, remains close to home, as the Penn State Product is from Willingboro, N.J. He's exactly what the Giants were looking for to fortify their line in that he's young, healthy, durable at 6-6 and 327 pounds, plus remarkably disciplined. He did not commit a single penalty in 2002, had just two in 2003 and was called for only one false-start penalty last season.
"He does not shoot himself or his team in the foot," coach Tom Coughlin said.
Slotting McKenzie in at right tackle moves David Diehl inside to a guard position. Second-year Chris Snee is a fixture at right guard, meaning Diehl is the favorite to supplant Jason Whittle at left guard and offers insurance in case Rich Seubert is unable to return from the serious leg injury that cost him the entire 2004 season.
As for Petitgout remaining at the key left tackle position, Accorsi said, "Luke's pretty good. We went to the playoffs with him as a left tackle. The line got better and that helps everybody."
The Giants brought McKenzie in and, in effect, did not allow him to leave without putting his name on the dotted line. It was his first and only visit.
"They basically said, 'He's staying here,'" Poston said. "They didn't want him to leave without a contract."
The Giants remain interested in receiver Plaxico Burress, but nothing is imminent with him. Reports have circulated that the Giants made a preliminary offer to Burress that averaged less than $4 million per season with a bonus of less than $5 million. Burress is seeking much more.
Quarterback Jay Fiedler visited yesterday but left without a deal, as he first wants to explore starting options before settling for a job as Eli Manning's backup. Veteran Jim Miller, most recently with the Patriots, is another option, and he'll visit next week.
NBA Teams Awarding Big Bucks to Players: Jet Magazine: Sports (Penny Hardaway)
Jet Magazine: Sports | Posted: November 8, 1993
The NBA cash registers ring in a new season as more than a quarter-billion dollars worth of transactions have been placed on the 1993-94 ledgers.
Charlotte Hornets forward Larry Johnson recently signed an $84 million extension (Jet, Oct. 25); Chris Webber finally signed with Golden State for $74.4 million dollar contract; and Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway's $68 million dollar pact (Jet, Nov. 1) is being called the best contract ever by many observers.
But New Jersey Nets star forward Derrick Coleman may not be outdone. At Jet press deadline, Coleman had rejected a $69 million, 8-year contract extension and may be offered more.