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The only good agent is a fictional agent

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© St. Petersburg Times, published June 13, 2000

As you might have guessed, doctor, I have this problem with agents. Some days I want to tar and feather them, and other days I figure, heck, why waste the feathers?

They annoy me, Doc. I can't help it.

I am tired of agents cruising campuses to try to persuade athletes to turn pro. I am weary of agents who hold out players under contract. I am worn out by agents who demand trades. I'm tired of Tank, Drew, Master P and the rest of them.

Wait. Hold that thought. Turns out there is one agent I like. His name is Myron Bolitar, and what he has going for him is this: Someone made him up.

Bolitar, if you haven't caught up to him, is the brainchild of author Harlan Coben. Bolitar allegedly is a sports agent, although every time he gets near an athlete, a mystery breaks out, and Bolitar has to solve it with the help of friends, employees and an unhealthy knowledge of '70s television. If Miss Marple and Leigh Steinberg had a son, it would be Myron.

And so, because I've never interviewed a made-up character before (unless you count Dennis Rodman), I thought you might want to get to know Myron (through Coben, of course). Who knows? If we're nice enough, maybe he'll shoot Arliss.

So here goes. With apologies to Anne Rice, I call it Interview With a Bloodsucker:

Q: Myron, do you think being a fictional character holds you back as an agent, or do you think Drew Rosenhaus has shown it can be done?
A: Oh, it wouldn't be so bad if my creator made me a sleazoid like Rosenhaus. But no, he decides to make me honest because, let's face it, where else but in Fictionville can you have an honest sports agent? Still, saying "honest sports agent" is like saying "pleasing jungle rot" or "worthwhile toe jam." Sure, it hurts, and even itches, Gary, but what can I do?

Q: What do you think hurts you most as an agent -- that you have such a small office or that many of your clients seem to end up, well, dead?
A: Hold up a sec. Dead can be an awfully good career move. I find that I can still make money off their endorsements, especially if they go out in a blaze of glory. What I find more disturbing is the athlete that gently fades away. Pooey.

Q: What do you think of agents such as Tank Black, who is being sued by his clients for squandering millions of dollars?
A: I think his clients should give me a call right away. Can you, uh, print my 800 number for their benefit?

Q. In Darkest Fear, your new novel (released today), you find out you have an illegitimate son. Will this help you sign Evander Holyfield as a client?
A: Sadly, I only have one illegitimate child. Both the WBC and IBF require three, or two with a big payoff.

Q: Art Modell, Al Davis and Jerry Jones are in a room, and you have only two darts. Where do you throw?
A: Whoa, trick question. This is one of those great philosophical issues, like the one about the tree falling in the woods or which Catwoman on Batman was the sexiest (Julie Newmar, hands down). I guess I would try to play MacGyver -- throw the dart at some sort of detonator, and with that much gas in the room, ka-boom!

Q: Finish this sentence: I'd love to represent Mike Tyson, but I'd rather ...
A: Give birth.

Q: Jerry Maguire became famous by yelling "Show me the money." Has an owner ever shown you the money?
A: I saw Al Davis pay for something once. Okay, I'm lying.

Q. Which athlete would you most like to represent and why?
A: Tiger Woods. Because I think he's a quality young man who will do a lot for the sport and the betterment of society. Oh, and he makes a ton of dough.

Q: And least?
A: Ed Asner, though I liked him on the old Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Q. Ed Asner was an athlete?
A: Don't you remember that picture in Lou Grant's office of him playing college football? No photographs of his wife or daughter but a big, self-aggrandizing blowup of him in uniform. In my opinion, this helped usher in the Me Generation. Lou Grant was the cause of free agency. Either him or Bea Arthur, I forget which.

Q. Rumor has it you were once Dennis Rodman's agent. Does that explain the evening gown incident?
A: It wasn't an evening gown, darn it. It was a Versace! And why is it okay for Jennifer Lopez to wear one but when a sports agent tries to land some WNBA players by wearing talk-to-me clothes, well, that's all of a sudden an incident? Huh? Huh?

Q: Do agents get a discount on gold chains?
A: We usually borrow them from Jerry Jones. But those always turn green in a week.

Q: An agent called Florida sophomore Mike Miller 45 times during the college basketball season. What do you suppose they talked about?
A: I understand it was totally innocent. The agent thought it was a 900 sex line.

Q: Are bullets billable to the client or do you simply deduct them from your taxes?
A: I do both.

Q: Your agency includes two women who wrestled professionally. Does that reflect your taste in women?
A: I dated Tonya Harding once. Got all gussied up and took her to her favorite restaurant. Even let her super size her value meal. Still, hours later, when I left the trailer park, I felt empty. Sad, really.

Q: If Jeffrey Dahmer ran a 4.4 40-yard dash, how fierce would the competition be to be his agent?
A: Some agents would give an arm and a leg to sign him. Okay, feel free to groan.

Q: Should there be a Hall of Fame for agents, and if so, where should it be located?
A: You know where might be perfect? There's this condom dispenser in the bathroom of a strip joint ... er, uh, at least that's what people tell me.

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