INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL Players Association is expected to alter a controversial rule created in the aftermath of reports that 2005 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush took illegal benefits during his junior season at the University of Southern California, according to an NFLPA source.
In 2006, the union reacted to news reports that Bush received extra benefits by banning certified agents from making contact with underclassmen until after they had completed their junior season. The union is now expected to allow agents to make earlier contact with players, though the specifics of the revised rule aren't complete yet.
Although the NFLPA is expected to issue a series of investigations and penalties against agents who contacted players before they were permitted, the union faces a growing dilemma if the rule is not altered. The union, the NFL and the NCAA have seen that banning certified agents has only allowed uncertified agents, financial advisors, marketing representatives and others who aren't under the union's jurisdiction to gain more power with players. The problem is such that NCAA officials reportedly asked the union to change the rule.
"The whole thing really backfired because it gave people who the union can't control a lot more power with players," an agent said. "For guys who are trying to do it legally, it meant that you were really too late in the recruiting process."
Even more, the rule gave agents who cheat by giving players money and other inducements even greater latitude, another agent noted.
"The guys who are going to cheat are going to keep doing it, and they'll find a way to cover their tracks," the agent said. "But when you can't allow the guys (a chance to fairly compete for the players' services) who want to do this honestly, it means that they're out right from the start. You can't compete."