Read the Fine Print
Tarell Brown the San Francisco 49ers cornerback, shocked fans, athletes, and bean counters alike when he voided a $2million escalator in his contract.
All he had to do is show up.
When I heard this story my first reaction was here is another rich athlete showing no regard for money. $2million is significant a amount of money, even to the rich.
Is he really this arrogant?
But after learning the whole story and doing some 'rithmetic,' I quickly discerned that something went terribly wrong.
Brown is not a top-shelf earner in his profession, and like you and me, $2million is a heck of a lot of money to him. It's crazy to believe he would leave that kind of cash on the table. While it is not unusual for players to forego a workout bonus of $75,000 (still insane), $2million is a horse of a different color. For him, it'is approximately a third of the money he has made to date in football. Thus, $2million could have had an enormous impact for Brown and his family.
So here's the $2million question: who's responsible?
Brown? His now former agent?
My first thought was that Brown should accept a certain amount of responsibility for 'not reading' his contract. But after reviewing my own mortgage forms, I quickly realized that unless Brown had some exceptional knowledge of legal terms, understanding a sophisticated contract would be difficult.
For this very reason, professional athletes hire agents. Agents are responsible for negotiating, reviewing, and explaining the contract. I understand this on basic terms; frankly, it took the movie Legally Blonde to help me realize that the agent a fiduciary duty to his or her client.
Brian Overstreet, Tarell's ex-agent, was licensed to practice law, so he undoubtedly should be responsible for any negligence that causes harm to a client. It would seem Brown has a case for a malpractice claim.
Will it work?
Who knows? Everyone make mistakes, even agents.
Don't believe me? Just ask Elvis Dumervil and the fax machine fiasco.
I hope up-and-coming athletes learn the importance of understanding the fine print. However, it's stunning how few learn from history and make errors that should be so avoidable.
Meanwhile, in this instance, I'm sorry Brown is the one who had to be the teacher.