Fun fact: Jay-Z will not stop until he has a hand in every industry relevant to the 21st-century American rich people. His latest step in this respect is to start a sports representation agency that stems off his entertainment company, Roc Nation. ESPN’s Buster Olney and Darren Rovell report that the agency will creatively be known as Roc Nation Sports and, in partnership with Creative Arts Agency, its first athlete will be Robinson Cano. Cano’s former representation: super-duper-mega-agent-guy Scott Boras. In case you’re wondering whether this could have an effect on Jay-Z’s involvement with the Brooklyn Nets, it could: he says he’s interested in expanding into other sports and, to do so, would give up his ownership share in the Nets.
The best part of this move has nothing to do with Hova, though. Instead, it’s that it allows us to remember the last time a rapper started a sports agency: Master P’s No Limits Sports, which helped negotiate Ricky Williams’ rookie contract back in 1999. Check out this screengrab from their rad Angelfire website.
The hubbub surrounding Williams’ contract at the time of its signing is best summarized by this paragraph from a Michael Silver Sports Illustrated story:
“Minutes later Williams signed with No Limit, forming a partnership that sent shock waves through the sports world. Depending on who’s talking, the hookup of gangsta rapper and dreadlocked runner signaled either the spawning of an entertainment empire for the new millennium or the end of the world as we know it. The debate has intensified over the past four months as the plot thickened: Williams’s draft stock slipped a bit, possibly because of NFL teams’ concern over No Limit’s inexperience and the potential for a protracted contract dispute; the New Orleans Saints traded an unprecedented eight draft choices to acquire the fifth pick, which they used to select Williams; and, on May 14, Williams signed an unorthodox, incentive-laden contract that will pay him far less than his market value if he doesn’t put up huge numbers.”
Williams didn’t put up huge numbers. Instead, he was serviceable but unimpressive over the course of his first three years and, by the end of the contract, had only netted $3.8 million of a possible $68.4 million. Even at the time, this surprised no one — Williams getting his money was dependent on him performing at Terrell Davis levels for the first few years of his career, and Terrell Davis had arguably the greatest NFL start of any running back ever. After the contract solidified as a disaster, Williams fired Master P and No Limit Sports, causing an exodus of its other clients; NLS folded soon after.
Could Jay-Z suffer a similar fate? I mean, he could, but it’s unlikely: the partnership with CAA will be a huge crutch/safety net, and Jay has already proven himself to be at least a competent businessman and business, man.