A good day for Jay Z and Roc Nation just got even better.
Hours after finishing off a 10-year, $240 million deal for Robinson Cano with the Seattle Mariners on Friday morning, the rap mogul’s firm was informed by the NFL Players Association there were no violations of the union’s regulations in Roc Nation’s recruitment of New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith, a source told FOX Sports.
Then, in an email sent by the NFLPA to all agents that was obtained by FOX Sports, the union clarified the "runner rule," which previously suggested non-NFLPA-certified associates, such as marketing reps, could not meet with potential clients until they signed with the employees’ firm.
In Friday’s email to agents, the NFLPA stated non-certified "employees and/or business associates who provide services to NFL players" are permitted to "meet with the potential player-client in order to introduce that player to the range of services and capabilities offered by that (agency)." The only catch is those meetings must include a certified agent and occur at the firms’ places of business.
In other words, the union believes Jay Z was abiding by the rules, even if other agents were stating and tweeting that he wasn’t, when he met with Smith before Smith signed with Roc Nation in June.
Jay Z wasn’t worried. He added a lyric to his recent album "Magna Carta Holy Grail" that stated, "NFL investigations, oh don’t make me laugh. FBI investigations, we stood up to that."
The rapper never really had reason to be concerned: The NFLPA couldn’t sanction him because he wasn’t certified. Kim Miale, the NFLPA-certified agent for Roc Nation, was the one under investigation since spring after she signed Smith as a client following the NFL Draft.
Smith fired his initial agents and, after a period in which he interviewed several other potential representatives, signed with Roc Nation Sports as the firm’s first contract client. (The New York Giants’ Victor Cruz is a Roc Nation client but only for marketing purposes. CAA’s Tom Condon negotiated Cruz’s contract extension with the Giants.)
But other agents were furious when a photo of Jay Z meeting with Smith was posted on Instagram before the second-round pick made his final decision. To them, Jay Z’s presence at the meeting — even if Miale was in attendance, which a source said she was — was a violation.
The NFLPA now has made it clear that it wasn’t a violation and that Jay Z can continue meeting with prospective clients along with Miale and/or any other certified agents who work for the firm.
Sources informed about the chase for South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney have said for months that indications are the potential No. 1 overall pick has communicated with Jay Z and plans to sign with Roc Nation. Whereas that once might have been seen as further evidence of runner-rule violations, it’s now an indication of the recruiting power Jay Z can bring to the firm and the business — in rule-abiding fashion.
Not all in the agent business will be disappointed by Friday’s developments, however. In fact, many marketing types were rooting for Miale and Roc Nation to dodge sanctions because they’d been eliminated from the recruiting process when the runner rule was instituted in 2012.
Many certified agents refused to allow non-certified co-workers to help recruit out of fear of a suspension from the union. Now, those marketing types, advisers and other associates will be back in those recruiting meetings, just as their rap icon of a competitor has been.