Athletes in professional sports earn millions of dollars. Top, high-profile athletes such as Peyton Manning, Kobe Bryant and Ryan Howard receive multimillion dollar contracts from their respective teams and from endorsements. Yet, these deals would not be possible without equally high-profile sports agents, many who also earn several million dollars annually. In fact, salaries among five of the top agents sports agents demonstrate how lucrative the profession can be.
The term "super agent" has been used to describe extremely wealthy and powerful agents such as Scott Boras, in Major League Baseball who is regarded as a "game changer." In 2000, Boras negotiated Alex Rodriguez's 10-year, $252 million contract -- the largest in professional sports history. In 2010, the total earnings of his players was $701 million. Commissions for agents in Major League Baseball are typically around 5 percent. Boras' 2010 earnings amount to roughly $36 million from top deals.
Though not as high-profile as his Major League Baseball counterpart Boras, Fernando Cuza's resume and earnings are also exorbitant. Cuza's clients include the likes of Alfonso Soriano, Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz and Mariano Rivera. In fact, Cuza is considered to be the top agent for Latin American baseball players. In 2010, the total value of top deals he negotiated was $389 million. With a 5 percent commission, Cuza earned roughly $20 million just from top deals negotiated.
Not only is Arn Tellem certified as an agent in the National Basketball Association, but he is also a certified Major League Baseball agent. Tellem's resume includes a $57 million, multiyear deal for Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers and an $85 million, multiyear deal for Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies. A principal agent in the sports agent firm, Wasserman Media Group, Tellem's assisted in earning his top players more than $334 million in 2010. Though no definitive numbers on Tellem's commission percentage from both leagues exist, assuming he makes the standard top agents commission of 5 percent in baseball and 4 percent in basketball, he earned more than $20 million from top deals in 2010.
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Not only are Peyton Manning and his brother Eli Manning top National Football League quarterbacks with enormous salaries (as of time of publication, the Indianapolis Colts are seeking to make Peyton the highest paid player in NFL history with $21 million annual salary beginning in 2012) but they also have a number of lucrative endorsement deals. The man behind these deals is Tom Condon, widely regarded as the National Football League's top agent. A former NFL player and head of Creative Artist Agency's sports division, Condon's top deals totaled roughly $326 million in 2010. Even with NFL agents' commission being capped at 3 percent, Condon earned more roughly $10 million from top deals in 2010. He also earned additional money from endorsements. His client Peyton Manning earns more than $15 million in endorsements as of 2011. While Condon's percentage of this amount is unknown, agents typically earn higher percentages of endorsements (between 10 percent and 25 percent of earnings).
Rob Pelinka, one of the NBA's top agents, negotiated Kobe Bryant's $90 million extension in 2010. Pelinka also represents Andre Iguodala and Gerald Wallace. Pelinka's top deals in 2010 totaled $297 million and included Carlos Boozer's multiyear deal between $75 million and $80 million. Thus, Pelinka (based on NBA agents commission) earned between $3 million and $12 million from top deals in 2010. He also receives a hefty commission from Kobe Bryant's $16 million dollars in endorsement salary each year as of 2011.