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Chargers owner Dean Spanos decries agents' ability to control some teams

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer
Dean Spanos is not such a huge fan of dealing with super-agents. (US Presswire)
With Chargers owner Dean Spanos watching the Peyton Manning sweepstakes from afar, he was reminded about 2004 when agent Tom Condon called him and told him that the player the team was going to draft No. 1, Eli Manning, would not play in San Diego because he questioned the team's willingness to field a winning team.

Now, after watching Peyton Manning travel across the country to meet with various teams and after seeing how Condon and Creative Artists Agency (CAA) helped negotiate a five-year, $96 million deal with the Broncos, Spanos says that certain agents simply have too much power within certain organizations.

"I think it's been going on for a long time,” the Chargers president told UT San Diego. “Agents have a lot of control over different teams. It depends on who the agents are.”

Said Chargers general manager A.J. Smith: “An agent is only powerful, manipulative and influential if you allow it. There is no ‘we' in the (agent-team) relationship. The most important aspect of this whole deal is the team. That's all that ever matters.”

At the time of the Eli Manning talks, Condon's agency -- then with the IMG agency -- represented a number of Chargers players and coaches, including Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson, head coach Marty Schottenheimer, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

More from UT San Diego discussing the Eli Manning scenario from several years ago:
A series of meetings with Archie Manning and phone calls with Condon resulted in no progress. The Chargers ultimately drafted Manning and worked out a deal to trade him to the New YorkGiants for Philip Rivers and other draft picks. All along, the Chargers felt the Mannings and Condon had steered Eli toward New York. …

The Chargers have since '04 done multiple contracts with Condon clients, including with Tomlinson and Antonio Gates. But it is no coincidence that the team does not negotiate with agents for coaches, and there can be no denying that Smith's philosophy regarding the team's hard-line stance in negotiations was shaped in those months.

Smith and Spanos also question whether agents are good for the game (this line of thinking goes all the way back to the beginning of the franchise when general manager Sid Gillman made it clear he hated the idea of dealing with agents).

To make their point, Smith and Spanos can point to the fact Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow, Rex Ryan and Alex Smith are all represented by CAA, and you saw how everything fit together rather nicely after Manning chose the Broncos as his next destination. To Spanos, it's inconceivable that an agent can “control and can represent your four or five best players.”

“How can those not be conflicts of interest?” Spanos said. “And how can those agents not manipulate the market and manipulate the teams? It's very problematic for me, because I've had it happen to me. And you see it going on right now.”

And more: “It's a bad situation, where certain teams are controlled by agents with key coaches and key players,” Spanos said. “It's certainly a problem we need to continue to address. … There are other owners that feel the same.”

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