By Josh Peter and Jason Cole, Yahoo! Sports
November 12, 2006
Reggie Bush has parted ways with his marketing agent, Mike Ornstein, a controversial figure who helped Bush land about $50 million in endorsement deals before the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner even signed his rookie contract with the New Orleans Saints, Yahoo! Sports has learned.
Ornstein revealed his split with Bush when he called a New Orleans-area businessman last week and canceled a $5,000 order for 120 turkeys that Bush planned to give to Saints players and team officials for Thanksgiving, said Glenn Mistich, owner of the Gourmet Butcher Block that filled the order.
"He told me, 'Reggie and I aren't working together anymore,' " Mistich said Sunday. "I don't know what happened. I don't know if Reggie even knows about [the canceled order]."
A second source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Bush had fired Ornstein.
Ornstein hung up the phone when a reporter identified himself, and he did not return a subsequent phone message. Bush declined to comment after the Saints' game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
In addition to losing his marquee client, Ornstein recently was subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney's office to answer questions before a grand jury in Ohio. Ornstein received the summons on the opening week of the season, when New Orleans played at Cleveland on Sept. 10.
Four sources confirmed that Ornstein received the subpoena, and one said Ornstein was served in clear view of several witnesses. The subpoena is said to be related to Ornstein receiving Super Bowl tickets from the Cleveland Browns several years ago in exchange for the use of cars.
Ornstein was convicted – along with two others – of defrauding the NFL while he was a league employee in 1995.
In September, a Yahoo! Sports investigation showed that Bush and his family appear to have accepted improper cash and benefits from Ornstein, in potential violation of NCAA rules. The Pacific-10 Conference and NCAA are investigating the matter.
Ornstein was instrumental in helping Bush amass a fortune in endorsements and ingratiate himself to a New Orleans community still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
Negotiating on Bush's behalf, Ornstein secured deals with adidas, Pepsi and Hummer. He also hooked up with Subway and EA Sports video games in an unprecedented windfall for an NFL rookie. The deals were signed well before Bush agreed to a contract with the Saints that included a $26-million guaranteed bonus.
Ornstein also played a prominent role in helping Bush carve out a favorable image in New Orleans. Following the April 28 NFL draft, Bush and his sponsors donated more than $50,000 to Holy Rosary Academy to help keep the special-needs school operational, funded an $86,000 installation of a new playing surface at a stadium used by many of the area's high school football programs and arranged for Hummer to donate a dozen of its vehicles to the police department in a city adjacent to New Orleans.
Bush's charitable efforts also have included partnering with the international hunger relief organization Feed The Children, the NFL Players Association and Urban Impact Ministries to help deliver food and toiletries to needy families in New Orleans.
Y! Sports NFL writer Charles Robinson also contributed to this report
Updated on Sunday, Nov 12, 2006 8:30 pm, EST
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