Who are the most powerful individuals in all of professional sports? There is an argument to be made that television executives who are responsible for broadcasting sports to millions of individuals who cannot or choose to not watch events in person are worthy of that distinction. You certainly cannot forget about league commissioners, although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is seemingly losing more power with every day. Club owners who spend millions upon millions of dollars on rosters every year have to be recognized for the power that they hold.
Do not forget about the agents that represent pro athletes. Agents convince players what they are worth on the market, and it is such discussions that often result in tense negotiations between athletes and clubs. It is not uncommon for a player to be talked into a decision that he otherwise would not have made without an agent dragging him in one direction or another. There is a perception among some in the soccer world, for example, that former Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale would have remained with Spurs another year had his agents not convinced him that the summer of 2013 was the right time for the Welsh wonder to join Real Madrid.
Some of the top agents in pro sports are anonymous figures, people you wouldn't recognize if they knocked on your door and asked to come into your home for some coffee. The very best in the business are, however, well-known individuals, agents who are more than happy to take to social networking websites like Twitter and television stations such as ESPN in order to make cases for the players that they represent. This list begins with a former baseball player who made his money as an agent, somebody who represented a man who went on quite the farewell tour in 2014.
These are the 10 most powerful sports agents in 2014.
Info and monetary values taken from Forbes
10 Casey Close
Casey Close's most famous client called time on his playing days in 2014. Close represented New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter throughout Jeter's legendary career, and the former college pitcher did well to earn Jeter one final payday that, if one were to be honest about it, the shortstop really didn't deserve considering his age and his diminished skills. Close isn't hurting now that Jeter has retired as an active player. The agent currently has Alex Gordon, Zack Greinke, Freddie Freeman and Ryan Zimmerman as noteworthy clients.
9 Dan Fegan and Happy Walters
These basketball agents have, to date, negotiated contracts worth over $720 million over the years. New York Knicks power forward Amar'e Stoudemire, a client of the two, picked up a deal worth a guaranteed $99,743,996. Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets, another client of Fegan and Walters, is currently on a contract that will pay a guaranteed $87,591,270. Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao, represented by Fegan, is set to be a free agent at the end of the current NBA season. Varejao signed a contract worth over $42 million back in 2009, and he should cash in on a fat deal next summer.
8 Ben Dogra
Football contracts are trickier to work out than are deals for baseball and basketball players. The National Football League utilizes a system that includes a hard salary cap, and thus teams can legitimately only spend so much money on players per year. Dogra is seen as one of the top football agents in the game today, and his client base includes the likes of Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Williams could make up to $96 million off of the contract that Dogra helped him land a couple of years ago.
7 7 (Tie). Drew Rosenhaus
You've seen him on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He has been on television programs such as The Late Show With David Letterman and Inside the NFL, he has been featured in TV commercials, and he isn't at all shy about speaking his mind while cameras are pointed his way. It could be argued that Rosenhaus is as famous as the players he represents. Former wide receiver Terrell Owens was a client of Rosenhaus's during the player's famous split from the Philadelphia Eagles. Rosenhaus currently has Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, not to mention several other noteworthy NFL players, as clients.
6 7 (Tie). David Dunn
Are you a fan of the Green Bay Packers? If so, David Dunn and the Athletes First agency are for you. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, undeniably one of the best QBs in pro football, is represented by Dunn. The one-time Super Bowl champion and likely 2014 NFL Most Valuable Player candidate could make up to $110 million per his deal with the Packers. Linebacker Clay Matthews, a dominant force on the football field, could earn $66 million from his Green Bay contract. Both are worth every penny that they are paid by the club.
5 5 (Tie). Sam and Seth Levinson
The founders of the A.C.E.S. baseball agency have made headlines over the years with the deals that they have negotiated. New York Mets third baseman David Wright could have understandably left the club in search of a playoff contender years ago. He instead inked a contract worth $138 million to remain with the Amazins. Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is signed with the team up through the conclusion of the 2017 season. The 33-year-old will make a guaranteed $72.5 million as per the deal he signed with the club.
4 3 (Tie). Arn Tellem
Tellem, who is part of the Wasserman Media Group, has double-dipped over the years in that he has negotiated deals for both MLB and NBA athletes. The legend of the industry and well-respected agent helped craft how pro basketball player Jason Collins would announce to the world that he was gay. Tellem also represents the likes of Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls guard and one-time Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose. Rose is set to become a free agent after the 2016-17 NBA campaign, and he will have to prove that he can remain healthy and productive through several basketball seasons to earn another massive contract.
3 3 (Tie). Tom Condon
The list of Condon's famous football clients begins with a few quarterbacks who have Super Bowl Most Valuable Player awards in their trophy cases. Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos starting QB Peyton Manning, both of whom will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame at some point down the road, are represented by Condon. New York Giants QB Eli Manning, who has twice won Super Bowl MVP during his career, is another Condon client. Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions also has Condon as his agent.
2 Don Meehan
There are hockey agents, and then there are NHL super agents. Meehan is the latter of the two. Recognized as the most powerful hockey agent in North America, Meehan has a long list of former and current NHL players among his clients. He famously signed Pat LaFontaine very early into the all-time great's career, and Meehan also represented Al MacInnis. Both LaFontaine and MacInnis are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Zach Parise, Corey Perry, Brad Richards, Mike Richards, PK Subban and Jarome Iginla are just some of the NHL stars that are part of the Newport Sports Management family.
1 Scott Boras
You're doing it right as a baseball player if Boras wants to do business with you. The super agent who negotiates in a league that has zero hard salary cap, Boras holds all of the cards in the bidding war for star pitcher Max Scherzer. Boras has, in the past, represented controversial players Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez. Boras and the Washington Nationals are heavily linked with one another heading into the 2015 season. Four key members of the Washington roster – Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg, are clients of Boras.