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CAA gets its game on

Agency quarterbacks sports biz move

Creative Artists Agency has become the latest Hollywood talent agency to enter the sports dealmaking arena.

CAA, which has hired Tom Condon and Ken Kremer from sports powerhouse IMG, has instantly become a force in the athletic representation game.

The agents, who worked together at IMG for 17 years, bring with them a client roster that includes star quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning, Chris Simms, Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich and Drew Brees; running back LaDainian Tomlinson; wide receiver Marvin Harrison; and tight end Tony Gonzalez.

Published reports this week speculated that the agency was wooing another IMG vet, Casey Close. That baseball heavy hitter reps Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and 30 other Major Leaguers.

CAA had no comment on a pending Close encounter, but such a move would give Hollywood’s premier talent agency an athlete stable with the star power to rival its movie roster.

The signing of Condon and Kremer comes months after the agency inked a deal to make off-the-field marketing deals for USC quarterback Matt Leinart, who is entering the National Football League draft this year. At that time, CAA proclaimed that the Leinart signing was an isolated opportunity and that the agency had no intention of building a sports department or negotiating on-field sports contracts. The percentery has since audibled at the line of scrimmage by moving into the area of player contracts.While Leinart’s on-field football contract will be made by independent agent Leigh Steinberg, CAA’s newly minted agents will continue to handle all contracts for the incoming clients. Those players will get the benefit of CAA’s entertainment departments, just like Leinart.

Condon was president of football for IMG and Kremer a vice president. During their IMG tenure, the agents repped 35 first-round picks in NFL drafts. Condon has also served as co-chairman of the NFL Players Union trust fund, whose assets exceed $1.5 billion. He also was the longtime rep of NFL Players Union exec director Gene Upshaw and negotiated the last two collective bargaining agreements for NFL officials.

“These guys are the best in their field,” CAA president Richard Lovett said in a statement. “They share our commitment to providing unlimited possibilities for our clients and embrace our culture of collaboration that allows great things to happen.”

CAA becomes the third talent agency with a dedicated sports department. WMA has slowly built a sports roster that includes golf phenom Michelle Wie, tennis star Serena Williams, NBA player Kevin Garnett and boxing champ Floyd Mayweather. The Gersh Agency recently took its first step into the sports arena last month, acquiring management firm Steve Feldman & Associates and absorbing 30 football clients including New England Patriots stars Rodney Harrison and Corey Dillon and Lorenzo Neal of the San Diego Chargers, as well as several potential high picks in the upcoming NFL draft.

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