Athletes First has a 19-person team which is the largest football staff in our industry and allows us to maintain an approximate seven-to-one client to employee ratio. In compiling this team, we searched nationwide not only for the most talented and committed individuals, but also people who personified our family-first approach to business. Through this approach, we became the only football agency that can boast of employees with degrees from Harvard Law School, Duke University, UCLA (undergraduate, business and law), Notre Dame, USC, Michigan, and Texas. We were also able to hire top young professionals who had prior work experience at places such as top law firms in Boston, Los Angeles and Cleveland, the NBA league office, the San Diego Padres and the Duke Admissions office. However, what we are most proud about is that we were able to hire 19 people who all shared the unified conviction of always putting the athletes first. That is not only the name of our company, but also our mission statement.
We are proud of our Athletes First staff and it is telling that many of our employees have been with Athletes First for over a decade. Together, we have over 150 combined years of experience in representing football players and there is not a situation through which we have not already guided one of our clients. We have had the thrill of representing the number one pick in the NFL Draft, Hall of Fame players, Pro Bowl players and Super Bowl MVPs. We have endured the season-ending injuries, unwanted trades, and unexpected releases as well. We have sat with our players and their families through peaks and valleys both on-and-off the field. This vast experience gives our clients the comfort and confidence of knowing their careers are being guided by an Athlete First team that has truly “been there and done that” at every level.
Over the years, he has become one of the most prolific, effective and respected negotiators in the industry. Dave’s negotiating efforts have resulted in scores of unique and/or recording-breaking contracts for players such as Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, Carson Palmer, Steve Young, John Lynch, Matt Cassel, Matt Schaub, Matt Hasselbeck, Miles Austin, Mark Sanchez, Clay Matthews and Rob Bironas. His accomplishments include having negotiated the largest contract in NFL history twice, most recently for Carson Palmer (9 years, $118.75 million); the largest running back contract (Corey Dillon); the largest safety contract (John Lynch); the largest signing bonus (Jake Plummer); the largest tight end contract (Todd Heap); the largest non-Pro Bowl receiver contract (Reggie Wayne); and the largest kicker contract (Rob Bironas).
Along with possessing more negotiation experience than anyone else in the industry, Dave has an extraordinary track record of developing deep, meaningful relationships with his clients and their families that extend well beyond the scope of his professional obligations.
Dave and his wife LeAnn reside in Laguna Hills, CA with their daughters Jennifer, Allison, and Katherine, son Michael and their golden retrievers, Boomer and Bear.
On February 16, 2001, Brian left SMD and founded Athletes First with partners David Dunn and Joby Branion. Brian is now the President of Athletes First and is responsible for ensuring that the Athletes First experience is second to none in terms of negotiating, maintenance, marketing and charity work. Brian is also responsible for overseeing Athletes First’s subsidiary company, Anonymous, which is dedicated to turning our clients’ charitable dreams into a reality. Since its establishment in 2007, Anonymous has raised close to $10.0 million for various charities across the country.
Brian lives in Newport Coast, CA with his wife of sixteen years, Lauren, and their two daughters, Mackenzie (12) and Brittany (9). Brian’s hobbies include basketball, reading and coaching his daughters in soccer. He is actively involved with the Southern California Chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization and is passionate about working on behalf of homeless children in Orange County. Despite his move to the West Coast, he remains a die-hard fan of all Boston sports teams and still cheers on his Fighting Irish every Saturday in the fall.
After graduation from UCLA, Joby became a corporate lawyer at a powerful entertainment law firm. In the fall of 1996, he was lured away by the sports representation firm Steinberg, Moorad, and Dunn. In Joby’s many years in the profession, he worked closely with Dave Dunn and is now responsible for talent acquisition, contract negotiations, research support, marketing and endorsement opportunities, pre-draft training, maintenance of client relationships, and various special projects.
Since co-founding Athletes First in 2001, Joby has been instrumental in negotiating many of our client’s market-setting contracts. In addition, his ability to cultivate and sustain relationships with a diverse spectrum of people, including athletes, family members, general managers, and owners, has proven indispensable in this industry. Joby’s burgeoning sports career was featured by way of a cover story in the 2000 summer edition of the national publication In the Black and more recently in a feature article prior to the 2011 NFL Draft in the Washington Post. In February of 2006, he was honored by Duke University for his contributions to making Duke’s campus a model community. In September 2007, Joby moved to North Carolina and became the Director of Atlantic Coast Operations for Athletes First. Joby and his wife Susan share their home in Chapel Hill, NC with their sons, Evan, J’Mar, Jett and Jaxyn, and their loveable pets, Jingle and Shadow.
Mark was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He received his B.B.A. in 1992 from the University of Notre Dame with a dual concentration in finance and accountancy, and then his J.D. in 1995 from Case Western Reserve University School of Law. After graduating from Case Western as a Merit Scholar and a member of the prestigious Law Review, Mark served as an associate for six years with a prominent Cleveland law firm, where his responsibilities included the representation of private sector clients in labor relations, employment litigation, and day-to-day counseling on general labor and employment matters. He joined Athletes First in 2001 as the company’s General Counsel, and is responsible for handling all the corporation’s various legal matters. Over the course of his extensive legal career, Mark has represented clients involved in litigation before state and federal courts throughout the United States, while also serving as lead counsel for clients in a number of private arbitrations. Mark also has represented Athletes First clients in various legal-related matters, including disciplinary appeals involving the NFL Commissioner’s Office and grievance hearings arising under the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement. He routinely negotiates endorsement contracts and reviews playing contracts on behalf of Athletes First clients as well.
Mark is a member of the Sports Lawyers Association, as well as an active member of the state bars of California and Ohio. He also serves as a part-time adjunct professor for the University of San Francisco’s Sports Management graduate degree program in Southern California where he teaches a course on Athlete Representation, and he is a frequent speaker on sports law topics as well.
Mark, his wife Laura, their son Emmet, and daughters Darci and Jacqueline currently reside in Tustin, CA.
Justin left the WNBA to return to California and attend business school at The Anderson School at UCLA. While at UCLA, he worked for Mandalay Sports Entertainment, identifying and researching potential acquisition targets in minor league baseball and consulting with the company on corporate structuring issues.
After receiving his MBA from The Anderson School, Justin joined Athletes First in July 2002. As a licensed NFL contract advisor, Justin is involved in the management of the company’s client roster, the recruitment of new clients and the negotiation of player contracts. In addition, Justin also oversees the firm’s financial operations and administrative processes and organizes Athletes First’s successful pre-draft training program. He is one of the creators and organizers of the annual Athletes First Classic charity event, which has generated over $3.0 million for Orangewood Children’s Foundation.
Justin and his wife, Julie, currently reside in Irvine, CA with their children, Leah and Coby.
Carmen has nearly fifteen years’ experience in the representation field during which he has assisted with contract negotiations for clients such as NFL greats Carson Palmer, Miles Austin, Aaron Rodgers, Ray Lewis, Reggie Wayne, and Clay Matthews; NBA players Dexter Pittman, Greg Anthony and John Starks; coach Quin Snyder and boxing legend Lennox Lewis in addition to numerous others totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars. During the NBA lockout in 1998, Carmen served as an assistant coach for one of the teams in the NBA’s Fila Summer Pro League in Long Beach. His specialty has become being an expert in analyzing the NFL, NBA, and Coaches salary markets.
Normally the first person anyone meets who actually claims to be from Delaware, Carmen resides in Tustin, CA with his wife Leigh, their son Jayden, and their Boxer Jasmine.
His experience as a former professional athlete and his natural ability to relate to all types of players and their families makes Cam an invaluable member of our staff.
Cam runs the Midwest office of Athletes First in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky where he lives with his wife Emily, and their two sons, Callan and Carson. An avid outdoorsman and bow hunter, you can find him in the woods or on the lake in his downtime.
He has been successful working on such campaigns as: Campbell’s Chunky Soup for John Lynch and Todd Heap, Visa for Drew Bledsoe, Joey Harrington, Matthew Hasselbeck, Jake Plummer and John Lynch, Qwest Communications for Matt Hasselbeck, John Lynch, and Jake Plummer, Sobe LifeWater for Ray Lewis, Airtran Airways and M&T Bank for Todd Heap, Degree, Verizon, Pepsi and Toyota for Mark Sanchez, as well as Suave, Muscle Milk and Cadillac for Clay Matthews. In his time at Athletes First, Ryan has amassed a national network of contacts while proving to be an innovative and determined marketing specialist. Ryan also works on player appearances, foundation sponsorship and barter agreements for the firm’s clients.
Ryan has been an outstanding addition to our Athletes First family and – as our current clients will attest to – he inevitably surpasses all of our clients’ marketing ambitions. Ryan is also actively involved in the recruitment of new football clients to the Athletes First family. He has been instrumental in establishing solid relationships with recruits and their families and his relative “youth” keeps him current with what college-aged athletes need and want as they transition to the NFL.
A native of San Diego, CA, Ryan currently resides in Newport Coast, CA with his wife Alivia, a former Cal soccer player who is far more athletic than him.
As the organizational backbone of our Client Maintenance Team, Natalie is responsible for ensuring that all of our employees work in unison to best serve our clients’ needs, no matter how big or small. From client and family travel to shoe contract questions, Natalie manages the countless number of client requests to make sure they are fulfilled at the highest level. She has also been called upon to coordinate celebrity travel, transportation and lodging for special events, such as the Pro Bowl, Super Bowl and the Athletes First Classic. It is because of Natalie’s hard work and commitment that Athletes First stands alone in this industry in terms of first class client maintenance and service.
Natalie currently resides in Temecula, CA with her husband, Robbie and their son, Gavin (1). A native
of Huntington Beach, Natalie loves spending her free time enjoying good food and wine, reading, and
being active with her full-of-energy toddler.
At IMG Andrew quickly developed a reputation as one of the top NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement and Salary Cap experts in the business. A certified NFLPA Contract Advisor at 23, Andrew has been involved in many of the landmark deals negotiated in the NFL over the last ten years.
Specifically, he has been intimately involved in veteran deals for players such as Peyton Manning, LaDainian Tomlinson, Tony Gonzalez, Derek Anderson, Ray Lewis, Thomas Howard, Matt Cassel, Miles Austin, Brian Waters, Jamaal Charles, and Aaron Rodgers. He also played a major role in the rookie contracts for #1 Overall Picks Eli Manning and Alex Smith, and numerous other rookie contracts for 1st Round Picks including Brady Quinn, Adrian Peterson, BJ Raji, Doug Martin, Ryan Kerrigan, and Earl Thomas. As well as rookie and veteran contracts for 1st Round Picks Matt Leinart, Aaron Ross, Keith Rivers, and Mark Sanchez. Andrew also was the architect behind the innovative Steve Hutchinson “Poison Pill” contract and he initiated a successful Special Master Grievance on behalf of four clients who were 2nd Round Draft Picks in 2008 which resulted in the four of them, as well as 22 other players drafted in the 2nd Round that year, each receiving hundreds of thousands of additional guaranteed dollars in their contracts. Additionally he played an integral role in Athletes First client Von Miller’s participation in the Brady Lawsuit which helped resolve the NFL’s 2011 labor dispute and lead to a new and outstanding Collective Bargaining Agreement for NFL Players for the next ten years.
In April of 2006, IMG Football became CAA Football and Andrew remained there until his move to Athletes First in November of 2007. Prior to joining Athletes First, Andrew had been heavily involved in the negotiation of 20 1st Round Draft Pick Contracts, with six of those contracts being for players being selected among the Top 10 Picks of the Draft. As of the summer of 2012, Andrew will have played a key role in an additional 16 1st Round Draft Pick Contracts since joining Athletes First, five of them being for players selected among the Top 10 Picks of the Draft. In just over nine years in the business, Andrew has helped negotiate more than (approximately) $1 Billion Dollars in NFL Playing Contracts for the players he has worked for.
Andrew did the majority of his work at IMG/CAA while also attending the University of Texas School of Law from August 2004 until his graduation in May of 2007. A true native New Yorker who grew up in New York City, Andrew currently lives in Laguna Beach, California with his wife Alison and his son Jordan who was born in the fall of 2011.
Upon finishing her degrees at Louisville, Savannah moved to California and received her M.A. in Communication Management from the University of Southern California. She also worked for the San Diego Padres and in Athlete Relations for ESPN X Games prior to joining Athletes First.
Savannah now serves as the Public Relations Coordinator for Athletes First and works to maintain relationships with major media outlets from across the country, coordinating interviews, photo shoots and appearances for our clients. She is also heavily involved with Client Maintenance, where she assists athletes with day-to-day needs including travel, accommodations and general life management.
She currently resides in Aliso Viejo.
David’s ability to relate to clients on both a professional and personal level has proven to be vital in ensuring their success both on and off the field. He believes that being loyal and honest are critical in building and sustaining relationships, so his shoot-it-to-you-straight attitude is no surprise.
As a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., David understands the significance of inspiring service in the public interest. Whether it’s assisting clients with their youth football camps in their respective communities, organizing school supply drives for local kids, or distributing turkeys to the less fortunate, David is heavily involved with his clients’ philanthropic efforts.
As a licensed NFLPA contract advisor, David takes part in all facets of the A1 experience. He is integral in coordinating the rookie training program, building and managing the client base and negotiating contracts. He is heavily involved in every aspect of his clients’ careers and works hard to exceed their expectations.
David currently lives in Dallas, Texas where he heads the Southwest Office of Athletes First.
Austin received his Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Southern California, with emphases in both Broadcast Journalism and Business. He brings previous sports experience working for IMG, the San Diego Chargers, and NBC Sports during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
A native of San Diego, California, Austin currently resides in Irvine, California.
After seeing what life is like for athletes during their playing days and what life is like when their playing days are over, Alicia found it fitting to join a team that cares for their clients before, during, and after their athletic careers. Alicia also delights in coordinating internal and external functions that promote successful, unified operations at Athletes First, especially as it relates to community outreach.
Raised in Vista, California (North San Diego), Alicia currently resides in Seal Beach, CA.
Kyle received his Bachelor of Science Degree, with an emphasis in both Economics and Finance, from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He started with Athletes First as an intern in the Fall of 2010, before becoming a fulltime associate in early 2012. Kyle is currently in the midst of pursuing his MBA at USC.
Kyle and his family immigrated to Newport Beach, CA from Johannesburg, South Africa in 1993. He still currently resides in Newport Beach.
After his NFL career, Joe became a Certified NFL Agent in 2009, and he joined the Athletes First team in 2012. He has 3 kids: George (16), Alex (13), Olivia (10), and a German Shepard, Zeus. He currently resides in Milwaukee, WI.
Blaine’s primary responsibilities include negotiating and securing endorsement opportunities for our clients and strategically developing unique brand initiatives to better enhance our clients’ off-field endeavors. Blaine works heavily in drafting client endorsement and appearance contracts and assists our general counsel in marketing-related issues. Blaine is also actively engaged in assisting with our pre-draft training program to ensure the needs of our draft-eligible clients are met and exceeded.
An avid musician and outdoorsman, Blaine can be found on the weekends playing his drums & guitars, relaxing at the beach, and playing any sport under the sun. A native of
Titletown, USA Boston, MA, Blaine currently resides in Newport Beach, CA.
After graduating in 2011, Danielle began as an intern with Athletes First before transitioning into a full-time associate. Danielle focuses primarily on all creative materials put out on behalf of Athletes First and its clients, including all recruiting, marketing, and training materials. Offering a unique skill set, Danielle has the ability to design logos, websites, and create videos and prints that clients use for various purposes. She plays a large role in preparing all materials for recruiting meetings and lending a creative mindset when pitching clients for national marketing campaigns. In addition to the creative marketing, Danielle is actively engaged in assisting with our pre-draft training program and helping with client maintenance duties to ensure all our rookies’ needs are well met.
Danielle currently resides in Newport Beach, California.
Max started at Athletes First as a general intern in 2011, before joining the Marketing Department as a full-time employee in 2013. At A1, Max’s primary responsibilities include finding creative marketing and endorsement opportunities that best build our clients’ brands in a unique fashion, fitting both their individual personalities and on-field playing style. He also assists our Client Maintenance Department and works closely with the draft-eligible rookies during their training and pre-draft process.
A native of Orange County, you will find Max at the beach, playing pickup basketball, or watching the Lakers chase their 17th World Championship Title.
* indicates certified contract advisor