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A1 agent

Scott walks softly, carries big stick

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Player agent extraordinaire Gil Scott is in Regina for Grey Cup week. He has 24 clients involved in the big game.

FRANK GUNN / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

Player agent extraordinaire Gil Scott is in Regina for Grey Cup week. He has 24 clients involved in the big game.

REGINA -- Gil Scott has been working in the shadows of professional sports for over 30 years. In Sunday's Grey Cup, his work will, as always, go unnoticed by fans, but it will have a huge impact on the game.

Scott and partner Tim Fleiszer of Gil Scott Sports Management represent 15 Hamilton Tiger-Cats and nine Saskatchewan Roughriders, the combatants in the 101st Grey Cup.

Scott's client list in the CFL title game includes Tiger-Cats head coach and GM Kent Austin, as well as defensive co-ordinator Orlondo Steinauer and star receiver Andy Fantuz. On the Riders side Scott works with GM Brendan Taman, head coach Corey Chamblin and quarterback Darian Durant.

"This is the most conflicted I've ever been before a game. I really don't know what to do," said Scott, who calls former quarterback Dieter Brock his first high-profile client.

"I know at the end of the night I'll have to visit the victory party and the not-so victory party. I can make a case for wanting both sides to win. But in the end, I don't want either side to lose."

Scott is a big, soft spoken man. Go to a CFL event and you'll see him at the back of the room. He's the guy without any credentials hanging around his neck, yet he's never stopped by league security.

Scott can call CFL luminaries such as Don Matthews and Wally Buono former clients. He's also spread into the NHL, representing coaches and GMs including Randy Carlyle, Scott Arniel, Peter Chiarelli, Todd Richards and Adam Oates.

In the NFL, Scott has clients such as Seattle Seahawks punter Jon Ryan and Minnesota Vikings linebacker coach Mike Singletary.

"Gil's not just an agent. He's a great friend. If he says he's conflicted about Sunday that's authentic," said Austin. "He's done a great job for me and I trust him implicitly. He's got a tremendous amount of character and he's very honest and bright. He's really good at what he does."

Scott tells the story of how he got into the agent business with a smile on his face.

"I was in the insurance business and there was a tax deferral scheme for professional athletes called Income Averaging Annuities. I was selling a lot of them to pro athletes. I did a presentation in the Argos locker-room and the Tiger-Cats locker-room and started to work with a lot of the guys.

"One day Nick Bastaja asked me to negotiate his contract and on a lark, I did it. Nick gets traded to Winnipeg along with Mark Bragagnolo and I go to see him in the hotel in Hamilton. Dieter Brock is in the room. I meet Dieter and the rest is history. Taking Dieter to the NFL and the (L.A.) Rams put me on the map. I could have rested on my laurels after working with Dieter, or I could use it to get other guys. I kept going."

Scott hooked up with Randy Carlyle after the coach was fired by the Anaheim Ducks. They had a few discussions, but didn't establish a formal relationship.

"I was at the CFL coach of the year luncheon in Edmonton, where we had two clients, Kavis Reed and Paul LaPolice, up for the award, and my phone starts to buzz," Scott recalled. "I look at it and it says Randy Carlyle. I scurry out of the ballroom and take the call. He says the Leafs have fired Ron Wilson and they want him to fly to Montreal that night, but he's not going until I do the deal," tells Scott.

"My partner Tim had a room in the hotel, so I go upstairs and get Brian Burke and Dave Nonis on the phone and we work out the deal. Then I realize I've got to get to Montreal, so I run to the airport and get a flight. That's this business. You start out the day at a CFL awards luncheon and end it in Montreal signing a coach to a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs."

Austin was comfortable in a lucrative position as head coach at Cornell University when Tiger-Cats president Scott Mitchell decided his organization needed a revamp -- and Austin was the man to do it.

Mitchell, a former agent, had partnered with Scott back in the day. A call to Scott was the first move he made in his pursuit of Austin, who proceeded to take the Cats from worst to the Grey Cup in one year.

"Gil is connected, period. It doesn't matter what league you are talking about," said Mitchell. "He's a well-respected guy who builds loyal relationships with his friends and clients."

Scott is the king of the hotel lobby. A big part of his job is to shake hands and pat backs, but he does it without the oily countenance of a game-show host. Maybe it's his stature, maybe his personality, but in any case Scott retains the respect of players and power brokers while not stooping to sniff jocks.

"That's not Gil. Gil is a deal maker. The best deals are the ones that benefit both sides and that's what Gil tries to do," said Mitchell. "When Gil phones, you should pick up. He finds solutions for teams. It's well known that the people who have regrets are the ones that didn't listen to his advice along the line.

"At the end of the day Gil represents his clients and he's transparent about that. But if you look around this league and the NHL, Gil has some pretty darn good clients. There's a reason for that."

Gil Scott won't be a winner Sunday. He won't catch a pass or throw a block. But when they hand the Grey Cup to one team or another after the game, his fingerprints will already be all over the coveted mug.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 22, 2013 0

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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