This story appears in the Oct. 18, 2010 issue of Sports Illustrated.
This is sports agent Josh Luchs, we think he’s telling the truth. But who knows? He might be lying. He is an agent.
I remember the first time I payed a player. It’s not something you forget. I was only 20 years old. Just out of college with barely enough bribe money to rub two bribes together.
My trip took me to Athens, Georgia to visit hard-hitting linebacker Cole Grant. I introduced myself to him and offered him a bribe. He asked me if that was against the rules and I told him, “No, I think you’re thinking of the Academy Awards or jury selection or something.”
He said he’d think about it. I went to the hotel that night and looked up the rules on bribing college players to sign with you. Sure enough, it was against the rules. I was pretty sure I knew that deep down. I went to his house the next day to tell him about my mistake. To my surprise he asked for the money, saying he needed it for his grandma or son or something, to be honest I wasn’t listening. I said, “Yeah whatever just take it.”
This confirmed my theory that players were a lot more likely to sign with you if you gave them money first. Of course, this presented a problem since now I knew definitively that that was against the rules.
But I asked myself, who is this hurting? The players are getting money to help their family and Escalade situations. I’m getting potential new clients. And as long as I ignore all the people following the rules, I really wasn’t hurting anybody.
Just about every college player worth anything has taken money from an agent. Oh sure, sometimes you’d have a goody two-shoes out there, but I could usually break them down. If someone didn’t accept my bribes, I’d call them a chicken and make chicken noises. I’d ask them who their heroes were and tell them that those guys took bribes. It didn’t matter if they actually did or not, I got pretty good at lying.
“Joe Montana? Are you kidding me? That guy loved bribes. He wouldn’t do anything unless you bribed him to do it,” I’d say. “George Washington? That’s how he decided to fight for the US instead of Britain. We just put together a better package for him. He made out like a bandit. The capitol, the dollar bill, and a state!” You get the idea.
Why am I telling you all this? A few reasons. One, I’m out of the business now. Kicked out by my fellow crooked agents. The union suspended me for a year after I took a check they say said belonged to another agent. I tried to bribe them into letting me stay, but they already have a lot of money.
I want my kids to remember me as something other than a disgraced agent forced out of the business. I want them to know I successfully cheated my way to the top before I was tossed out. I think there’s a lesson there.
I also want fans out there to understand why we agents feel the need to bribe. It’s not that we’re bad people. It just makes our job incredibly easier. I think we all can appreciate that.
So don’t blame the agents when USC forfeits its national championship. Don’t blame the agents when North Carolina has 12 suspended players. Blame… I don’t know, the rules I guess? It’s a dumb rule. Or I know, blame the players! Or maybe the NCAA for being so nosy. Whatever you do, don’t blame me. I’m just the messenger here. Don’t shoot the messenger, as they say. I mean, in this case I actively participated in the message I’m giving, but I think the rule still applies. Especially if that messenger is willing to make it worth your while (by which I mean bribe you).