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Pro football competition scores on skills-building

February 01, 2016


Trip MacCracken (center) of the Kansas City Chiefs offers contracts negotiating insights after judging the finals of Tulane’s Professional Football Negotiation Competition along with Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com and Tulane Law alum Nick Sabella (L ’12) of the Chicago Bears.


The football negotiation competition was organized by Tate Martin (L ’17), Scott Champagne, A.J. Stevens, Harrison Smith (all L ’16) and Greg Castillo (L ’17).

For 40 furious minutes, the scrambling and counter-moves around Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller sounded like a bona fide big-league front-office skirmish.

“Face of the franchise.” But what about the substance-abuse issues? We want a $20 million signing bonus. But we can’t go above $114 million for the total contract.

As the clock ran out, the teams of law students from the University of Mississippi and Chapman University hashed out a six-year deal worth $114 million with a $14 million bonus. But the skills displayed by the pair from Ole Miss gave them the win in Tulane’s Professional Football Negotiation Competition.


Ole Miss law students Alexia Boggs and Clayton Adams make their winning pitch to the Chapman University team of Ashley Daniel and Jeff Farano.

The audience of law students then got a strategy lesson in pro football contract strategizing from a trio of industry insiders who served as judges for the finals: Tulane Law graduate Nick Sabella (L ’12), football administration assistant with the Chicago Bears; Trip MacCracken, Kansas City Chiefs vice president of football administration; and Jason Fitzgerald, founder of data-crunching website OverTheCap.com.

In its first year open to outside law schools, the competition, run by the Tulane Sports Law Society, drew teams from 16 other universities. Tulane fielded three teams, one of which was edged out for a spot in the finals. Industry pros judging the multiple rounds included Tulane Law alum and sports agent Martin Fischman (L ’09), founder of Fischman & Wiltz Sports in New Orleans. 

“It exceeded my expectations,” said Sabella, a former Sports Law Society president who now assists managing the Bears’ salary cap and negotiating player contracts. “You could tell the group’s put a lot of work into it, and I can’t wait to see how the competition grows in future years.”


Tulane Law team members confer while waiting for an early round to start during the Professional Football Negotiation Competition.

A football sibling to Tulane’s National Baseball Arbitration Competition, the event adds skills-training and networking components to Tulane’s expanding connections within the NFL. For instance, Mike Tannenbaum (L ’95) is executive vice president of football operations for the Miami Dolphins, where Kyle Wallace (L/MBA ’15) is a football administration staff assistant. Ryan Feder (L ’15) works as football technology analyst for the Green Bay Packers. Tulane Law students also have scored internships with teams including the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins.

Feder helped develop the contract negotiation competition in 2015, along with current Sports Law Society President A.J. Stevens (L ’16), Harrison Smith (L ’16) and Scott Champagne (L ’16), with coaching from Sports Law Program Director Gabe Feldman and Tulane alum Ari Nissim (L ’04), director of strategy and analytics for Roc Nation Sports and former director of football administration for the New York Jets.

“I thought it was really well-run,” said Alexia Boggs, who won the competition with Clayton Adams. See a Facebook photo album.

Stevens said the event came together even better than he’d anticipated. “Putting the competition together took a lot of work from everyone involved, but to see it be such a success made it all worth it,” he said.  


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