ESPN's documentary "Broke" debuted in prime time Tuesday night, and about halfway through, the documentary touches on some of the shady financial advisors who swindle professional athletes. That's when Darren Rovell pops up on your screen to explain things:
"Players associations charge agents fees, and financial advisors fees, and say that they regulate them. It's really a joke. They charge this fee so that they can make another revenue stream. I don't think they can look you in the eye and tell you that they're doing a better job at controlling who should be an official advisor and who shouldn't."
SHOTS FIRED. Shortly thereafter NFLPA executive George Atallah responded:
For those of you watching 'Broke' Rovell is dead wrong about our FA program. FA program by law cannot and does not make money for PA— George Atallah (@GeorgeAtallah) October 3, 2012
Our financial filings are public information and easily searchable. How he can be so flippant about that is beyond irresponsible.— George Atallah (@GeorgeAtallah) October 3, 2012
Indeed! The NFL's latest public filing is available here. Rovell's response?
Show me that law RT @georgeatallah Rovell is dead wrong about our FA program. FA program by law cannot and does not make money for PA— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) October 3, 2012
For a more complete look at the NFLPA's financial advisor program espn.go.com/blog/playbook/…— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) October 3, 2012
Fast forward to Thursday, when the NFLPA answered with an open letter to ESPN:
1. Rovell repeatedly pushed the opinion that the NFLPA Financial Advisor Registration Program generates revenue for the NFLPA in the documentary film “Broke” and his column on ESPN.com. ...
He is wrong. Here are the facts:
- “The NFLPA will operate the Program on a non-profit basis. The registration fees to be collected from the Listed Advisers are flat fees that will reimburse the NFLPA only for the costs incurred in operating the screening, monitoring and disciplining functions of the Program. There will be no relationship between the fees that are received by the NFLPA from the Listed Advisers and whether players retain the services of Listed Advisers.” SEC No-Action Letter, January 25, 2002
- Rovell cited an increase in fees in his ESPN.com piece. The NFLPA recently switched to a new background investigation company that does a more comprehensive investigation of each applicant, which increased the cost of processing each application. This information was shared with Rovell.
- This accurate information about the program is readily available to the public on the NFLPA website (https://www.nflplayers.com/About-us/Rules--Regulations/Financial-Advisor-Regulations/)
and on the Securities and Exchange Commission website (http://www.sec.gov/divisions/investment/noaction/nflpa012502.htm)
2. Rovell has repeatedly lumped together Financial Advisors and Agents and described them as “certified.” NFLPA Registered Financial Advisors are not certified by the NFLPA, they are registered after meeting requirements and passing a background check. This is entirely different than the certification process for Certified Contract Advisors (agents). Rovell was made aware of this distinction, yet no correction has been issued.
- The correct information is available on the NFLPA website. Again, the link is here: (https://www.nflplayers.com/About-us/Rules--Regulations/Financial-Advisor-Regulations/)
3. In Rovell’s initial report, he incorrectly published that “players cannot choose a financial advisor outside the program.” After being contacted by the NFLPA, the story was changed. However, contrary to journalistic standards, ESPN.com did not issue an editor’s note indicating an error had been corrected in the original.
- “Registration in the Program is voluntary.” SEC No-Action Letter, January 25, 2002
The NFLPA was contacted multiple times dating back to March 2012 by an ESPN staff member fact checking for “Broke.” Every question presented was given a prompt, thorough, accurate response. Despite these efforts, though, we were disappointed to see the flippant, inaccurate comments made by this media personality in the film. When it comes to the NFLPA, Rovell has a track record of bad analysis and uninformed opinion.
This is our effort to correct that record.
"When it comes to the NFLPA, Rovell has a track record of bad analysis and uninformed opinion." Without openly picking sides in this particular argument, it's fair to say the first part of that sentence isn't really necessary. Who can forget his salacious scoops during the NBA lockout?
And lest anyone forget, half-baked reporting aside, Rovell is probably the best argument on earth for setting your computer on fire and throwing your phone off a bridge.
As of Thursday afternoon, ESPN's added a note to the original NFLPA article:
An Oct. 2 story on ESPN.com incorrectly reported the conditions under which NFL players can choose a financial adviser not registered by the NFLPA. Players may choose their own advisor, but agents can only recommend advisers who are on a list provided by the NFLPA. In addition, the NFLPA said that the fee changed for applying to be on its list rose from $1,000 to $2,000, but it said the increased costs are due to more expensive background checks and don't generate more revenue.
Still no corporate explanation for that lazy ass "Broke" documentary, though.