May 18, 2004
Masters Of Nonspeak: Meet The Postons
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
To heck with this sports agent thing. Why don't the Poston brothers get into politics and run for an elected office?
That would be sweet. Try to pin these guys down on where they stand on an issue (John Kerry's not much better)? Pity the fool who tries to debate them. Don't worry about advertisements, their football clients alone could bankroll a decent campaign on their own.
If you watched Carl and Kevin on WBZ's Sports Final on Sunday night, you might have noticed a lot of responses from the ebullient agents which smack of those well-heeled gals and gents who aspire to be your next senator, governor, or even president. Since this column does not normally venture into the political arena, we thank the Postons for giving us the opportunity to analyze all that politicians don't tell you. We'll do this by asking you the reader to extrapolate what is discussed here to the junior senator from the Bay State when it comes time for him to really make a push at Bush. See if the comparison is a valid one.
Actually, it may not be, or if it is, it is only in principle. Sometimes politicians will merely make promises they don't intend to keep, other times they will become good at saying one thing and meaning another. But one of the most fun, as well as exasperating, qualities of a politician is watching him or her try and answer a question loaded with dynamite which they darned well know is lethal to try and answer. This is where they enter into the fine art, and art it most definitely is, of "nonspeak".
In a court of law, of course, this stuff doesn't wash. Being non-responsive can get you thrown in the hoosegow on contempt charges. Lying to Steve Burton of Channel 4 is simply impolite and disingenuous, but in a court of law they call it "perjury" and they will clear out a jail cell for you. But Sports Final isn't a court of law.
Oops. It actually is a court of Law, but that's too obvious a pun.
That said, you might have had a hard time deciphering what the Postons told Burton on Sunday night when pressed on the issue of Ty Law, one of their clients. So, we'll do it for you, and if you like it, give us a call and we'll try and translate Senator Kerry for you. You might have read a partial transcript of the interview on Boston Sports Media Watch, and their account of the evening is a most useful aid to this discussion.
Burton introduced them, then Carl made with this statement:
"Bill Belichick was in the same situation with the Giants."
You Poston clients out there, make sure your agents double-check their facts and figures. LeVar Arrington will remind you all about this $6 million mistake these Poston guys made. Belichick was with the Jets when he had his contract dispute come up (HC of the NYJ, to refresh everyone's memory).
"He was uncomfortable with the contract situation and filed a lawsuit and ended up with the Patriots. Ty\'s in the exact same situation."
This is just totally wrong. Showing a horrid sense of priorities as well as an odd manner in handling his supposed Hall of Fame coaching career, Bill Parcells resigned his job as Jet head coach in 2000 for the express purpose of blocking the Patriots from signing Belichick with no compensation. Belichick balked at the new coaching arrangement because he was leery about working for then-new owner Woody Johnson, but would have stayed in Joisey had Leon Hess still been alive. Law has a contract which he no longer wants to honor for the lone reason that he wants to be the top paid cornerback in the league. These are two totally different positions.
"I don\'t have anything against the Patriots. But, when you cross my client, you cross us."
Nice tough talk for prospective clients out there to enjoy. If you believe this last statement makes either Belichick or Scott Pioli lose one nanosecond of sleep, you probably also believe that you will get a raise if you go into your boss's office and declare that you are a warrior who will fight to the death for what you believe in.
Burton shot back with "You guys come out and say ‘fair treatment, fair treatment' and people can\'t relate to what you\'re saying. I\'m telling you back home they\'re saying ‘51 million dollars?' Is that not fair enough?\"
Kevin replies, "You know why? You know why? Cause you\'re looking at the money. You say 51 and you\'re like wow, but let\'s look at it this way: let\'s look at it in simplistic terms. Let\'s look at five dollars. Because it\'s all relative. OK? It\'s all relative. Why? It could be a hundred million. It\'s about what your fair market value is."
This is both nonsensical and intelligence insulting. "Cause your looking at the money"? How is it about anything other than money? What is Law's key bode of contention? He wants to be the top paid cornerback in the NFL. And he's condemning Burton for "looking at the money"? What else is there to look at when you have to sit there and listen to Law trash out his team in the media? The words between "looking at the money" and the fair market value reference are just plain gibberish. They represent a nervous and inarticulate attempt to answer a question they really don't want to answer.
This is a question where Kerry would have done a lot better job of answering.
Burton goes on: "People back home think you guys are giving Ty Law bad advice. They\'re thinking you changed Ty Law. He\'s greedy, he\'s a greedy player, he\'s a selfish player and it\'s all coming from his agents. You two."
Carl: "Ty Law is 30 years old. The Patriots had no intention of letting him go. Know why? Because they know he\'s worth a lot more. Even though Ty said I will take a pay...I will take less to play for the Patriots than I would to play for another team."
This assumes you believe Poston when he says that Law would take a pay cut to remain here. This is not a credible statement when you again refer to the basis of Law's public rants (top paid corner, Champ Bailey money at least). This claim literally turns this response into a non-response. Poston never did try to refute Burton's claim of giving out bad advice in a direct and good faith manner.
So, Burton goes on the counterattack: "Ty has said, we have quotes of Ty Law saying \'I played like the best cornerback in the league. I want to be paid as the top cornerback in the league.'" Kevin's response? "I\'m sure he does. But remember one thing Ty also did. And in all my years in this business, fifteen years, I\'ve never had a client say \'You know what? Let me find out exactly what I have to do. I will buy out my contract. Forget trade. Buy it out. I\'ve got so much money that I will write you a check because all I want to do is be treated fairly. Now that\'s a heck of a statement."
If nothing else, this only serves to exacerbate everyone's negative perception of Law. If Law is willing to go to these lengths to get out of a contract for the sole purpose of merely being the highest paid player at his position in the league, this portrays Law as a greedy egomaniac. Poston should be providing damage control and improvement of his client's image instead of reinforcing the negative perception of his client.
When Burton broached the subject of Law's arrest in Miami, this exchange occurred:
Kevin: Oh, he was running from the police? That\'s what they say.
Burton: That\'s what they said.
Carl: I don\'t believe those things.
Burton: I don\'t know what he did.
Carl: If he was running from the police, I don\'t think they would\'ve caught Ty.
More nonspeak instead of damage control, punctuated by a nice wisecrack from Carl. Nothing was said about the incident, just skepticism and disrespect for the police and deity status for their client. Carl mentioned something about the heavy traffic on South Beach on a Friday night, but all news accounts said that Law was fleeing the police after making an illegal lane change. Whether or not Carl was correctly apprised of the situation remains to be seen, but his instinctive reaction is support for the client, which really is his job that he must do. Still, this corner believes that damage control works better than flat denials and dissing the police.
If there is one question Burton never asked, here it is: "Carl and Kevin, your client is under contract for 2004 and 2005. Your client is due to make $10 million in 2004 and $14 million in 2005. Instead of asking your client to rework his contract to help the salary cap, the Patriots are going to take the extraordinary step and pay Law his exact cap figure for 2004, which is very unusual in today's NFL. My question to you two is this: Define the word ‘contract' in your own words and why you believe that Law is wrong in merely living up to an agreement he signed his name to a few years back?"
You can just imagine their response. It will do everything but actually answer the question. They will bring up the words "respect" and "been lied to", but they will not come close to saying anything resembling "You're right, Ty has a signed contract in place which will pay him handsomely in 2004. We will do everything it takes to advise Law to stop making adverse statements to the press and to honor the contract he signed back in 2000." Law's contract is mere toilet paper in the eyes of the Postons and Law himself.
This is why the Postons should run for public office. They know how not to answer questions, and advance the causes of their clients and themselves at the same time. They are at times a little on the inarticulate side, and some of their responses are totally absurd. But their foundations are clear: they want more clients and they know that someone out there will honor their outlandish monetary demands.
If you watched that interview, keep it in mind when the first presidential debate comes up. When Senator Kerry gets asked a question about an issue he loves to waffle on, maybe the Postons will barge on stage and answer for him.
And you can just imagine what it will sound like. "Who do you think you are? You're disrespecting the Senator! He is the most famous Senator in the nation and must be treated as such!"
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