Fans of the Kansas City Chiefs don’t really need any more reasons to hate John Elway, Peyton Manning, or the rest of the Denver Broncos, but free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders gave them one more this weekend anyway. Depending on whom you believe, Sanders and his agent reneged on a contract agreement in principle and used it to negotiate a deal with at least two other NFL teams before Sanders agreed to a deal with Denver on Sunday. Or maybe not.
At his introductory press conference in Denver, Sanders addressed the rumors that his agent, Steve Weinberg, used a “handshake agreement” that Sanders had with Kansas City last Friday as ammunition to negotiate with other teams, specifically the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sanders was adamant that there was no deal made with the Chiefs or anyone else.
Multiple media reports floating around on Sunday and Monday quote an “unnamed executive” of a team that pursued Sanders in free agency, and the quotes are blistering. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media first published the following quote that sounds like it certainly could have come from someone at One Arrowhead Drive:
“When a man [Weinberg] gives you his words and pulls out then gives another team your word and pulls out, then gives another team his word. . . . Not proper,” the executive told Rapoport on NFL.com.
Weinberg, based in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, only recently was reinstated by the NFL Players Association, which had barred and decertified him in 2003. At that time, the NFLPA allegedly found that Weinberg diverted assets to an offshore account during a dispute with a partner and collected a fee from a client prematurely.
Weinberg later filed suit against the NFLPA and its top officials, alleging they illegally took away his certification for eight years, along with past, present and future income of clients. When Weinberg was decertified, he represented 42 NFL players. Currently he has two.
Hey, your Chiefs Examiner is the first to admit that the Broncos wheeling and dealing this off-season has his head spinning and leaves him wondering if the national sports talk guys and gals will give the rest of the AFC their approval to play the 2014 season instead of just handing Peyton the Lamar Hunt AFC Championship Trophy.
But the truth is that when it comes to “Sanders-gate”, unless the Chiefs or any other team has a contract with Sanders’ signature on it, this is just part of doing business in sports. Fans don’t like to see the oftentimes slimy world of sports agents and contract negotiations. If you believe the Chiefs and other NFL execs that are complaining, what Weinberg did was probably unethical, but definitely not illegal.
However, it will still be fun to see how 76,000 Chiefs fans with long memories react when Sanders runs on the field in that hideous Denver jersey next year.
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