This is a column by Morgan Campbell, who writes opinion for CBC Sports. For extra details about CBC’s Opinion part, please see the FAQ.
Were you stunned on Tuesday, when NFL star Aaron Donald and NBA standout Jaylen Brown every introduced they had been leaving Donda Sports, the company based by rapper/designer/right-wing troll Kanye West?
The information blindsided me, primarily as a result of I had forgotten Donda Sports nonetheless existed, and was shocked that individuals like Donald and Brown, with large names and good reputations, nonetheless had ties to it.
Their defections observe West’s newest salvo of offensive feedback. Earlier this month he trafficked in white supremacist slogans. Last week he dabbled in antisemitism, and prompted a few of his greatest company sponsors, just like the sportswear large Adidas, to drop him. Right now he is the flipside of Pickleball, shedding business companions as quick because the world’s subsequent large sport is signing them up.
And Donald and Brown?
They shocked me with their willingness to play ball for this lengthy with somebody as unreliable as West, who now goes by “Ye,” retains proving to be. Stars within the NFL and NBA aren’t simply athletes — they’re enterprises, who, you’d suppose, acknowledge that West’s penchant for instability is bad for business. So the thriller arising from Donald and Brown’s selections to dump Donda is why they signed up within the first place.
WATCH | Adidas disassociates with Kanye West following antisemetic remarks:
Donald is a seven-time All-Pro with the Los Angeles Rams, and made a game-saving sack late in final winter’s Super Bowl. Brown is an NBA all-star, and among the many first professional athletes to protest in public after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops in May of 2020.
Each man has the profile and private model fairness to, when they should rent an agent, select from the very best and most confirmed.
Donda Sports, for the report, is (was?) a advertising and marketing company, which deliberate to hunt partnerships for athletes. League-certified brokers negotiated Donald and Brown’s participant contracts.
Still, neither man wanted to gamble on Donda Sports — they weren’t Rod Tidwell leaping ship from a cold company sports activities company to assist Jerry Maguire construct his scrappy, loveable startup. And each are grown sufficient to see what turns into of established athletes who belief shady brokers. That two skilled veterans did not apply a extra stringent filter when looking out for an organization to symbolize their pursuits to the business world is regarding.
Thankfully, Donald and Brown’s dalliance with Donda solely uncovered them to attainable reputational injury. There are not any tales of botched offers or lacking thousands and thousands. Just their head-scratching resolution to align with West, and their public termination letters.
After all, Donald and Brown did not sign with 2003 Kanye West, the hit-making producer behind basic Jay-Z tracks like Izzo; the deep-thinking rapper who railed in opposition to materialism in All Falls Down; the unlikely famous person whose debut album The College Dropout, chronicled his journey from underdog to high canine.
They did business with West after Jay-Z minimize him off, after he made a diss monitor attacking his ex-wife and her new companion, after he actually set himself on fireplace at a music launch celebration.
And they caught with him till his interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, wherein he spouted some informal antisemitism.
“I’d favor my children knew Hanukkah than Kwanzaa,” he stated in a leaked interview. “At least it could include some monetary engineering.”
That remark prompted Adidas to drop West, and spurred Donald to observe swimsuit.
“We felt a duty to ship a transparent message that hateful phrases and actions have penalties and that we should do higher as human beings,” stated a letter posted to Donald’s Twitter account. “We don’t really feel our beliefs, voices and actions belong wherever close to an area that misrepresents and oppresses individuals of any background, ethnicity or race.”
If rap stars had a historical past of blossoming into powerhouse brokers, the way in which 10,000-metre runners grow to be marathoners, signing with Donda Sports would have made sense. But the quick historical past of rappers-turned-agents consists of Percy “Master P” Miller, who repped operating again Ricky WIlliams in negotiations with the New Orleans Saints in 1999. The incentive-laded deal Williams signed is broadly considered one of many worst in NFL historical past.
West, at the least, knew sufficient to enlist a sports activities veteran as his deputy, so perhaps it comforted Brown and Donald to satisfy Donda Sports president Antonio Brown.
Yes, that Antonio Brown.
Former NFL receiver Antonio Brown, who feuded with coaches in Pittsburgh and Oakland, and was final seen peeling off his jersey and stalking off the sector at mid-game at MetLife Stadium, after beefing with Bruce Arians, then the top coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Correction, we final noticed Brown performing a lacklustre rap music at a music pageant in South Florida, making certain the following act would sound higher against this.
If you’ll be able to see why that pair would enchantment to established veteran athletes with cash and choices, clarify it to me within the feedback. I’m stumped.
I perceive why the usual agent-athlete relationship might sound stale and outdated to some of us. If you already suppose you understand what you are price, why pay three per cent of your wage to the one that negotiates it? Why not rent a lawyer to do it for a flat payment, or, like Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, deal instantly with the workforce?
WATCH | Kanye West receives social media ban over offensive feedback:
The reply, in fact, is comfort. Agents haggle with employers so professionals can think about the craft, whether or not it is sports activities, music or writing. In the NFL, brokers take three per cent of seven, eight and nine-figure offers. In my world, that of the first-time creator, your agent takes a bigger slice of a a lot smaller pie.
And I used to be nonetheless grateful. A superb agent will get you a pay bump that dwarfs their payment. You’re not a lot paying a toll as investing with them. Additionally, and crucially, they prevent the excruciating complications that usually accompany the petty back-and-forth of contract negotiation.
But nothing about West’s or Brown’s public persona says “migraine treatment.” West is a Black man who favours the “White Lives Matter” t-shirts fashionable amongst white nationalists. Brown has been sued by a mover for allegedly assaulting him and damaging a truck, a chef for allegedly not paying a $38,000 US bill, and, in fact, a sports activities advertising and marketing company for allegedly failing to pay fee on offers they secured.
All these antics say “business companions, beware,” however right here got here Donald and Brown anyway, apparently snug with the danger, and capable of tolerate the bad press the individuals atop Donda Sports generated … up to a degree.
The solely greater riddle than why both man signed with Donda is why it took this specific blowup to chase them away.