Buddy Ryan famously referred to Norman Braman as "the guy in France."
Now, Brian Westbrook seems to be embarking on his quest for a new contract by hiring a guy named France, agent Todd France, based in Atlanta. Though as of midafternoon Wednesday, the hiring still was not official, an Eagles source told your Eagletarian, and rumors were swirling that Westbrook might be yet again changing his mind. (Ever notice how rumors always swirl, they never meander or chug?)
First things first: No, this is not the guy who used to kick for the Eagles, the Soul, and a whole bunch of other NFL and Arena teams. When last heard from last month, that Todd France had been signed by the Chicago Rush after their kicker got hurt. The agent Todd France reportedly used to joke that he was the NFL's second-most-famous guy with that name, back when he was first starting out.
Right now, Omar Gaither is France's only Eagles client. He also represents former Eagle Takeo Spikes, who was something of a mentor to Gaither. Spikes, an Auburn alum, is typical of France's 30 or so NFL clients, who tend to come from Auburn, Georgia and Georgia Tech. France went from footnote to major player in 2003 when he left the CSM agency where he'd gotten his start, taking its entire football division with him, including Spikes, who was a star at the time. As you might expect, a lawsuit followed that move, but it didn't keep France Athlete Management Enterprises (FAME, get it?) from flourishing.
France had never represented a first-round pick until 2005, when suddenly he had three of his clients taken there, most notably Auburn running back Ronnie Brown, second overall, by the Dolphins. France also has represented other high-profile runners, such as Priest Holmes.
France isn't known for holding clients out or for engineering high-stakes public confrontations (next question!). But the Eagles are believed to be concerned that Westbrook's selection process might have come down to which guy made the most lavish promise about a new deal; Westbrook was recently quoted in the Inquirer as saying he thought he deserved $30 million in guarantees, which would be an off-the-charts record for a soon-to-be-29-year-old running back. (Where is Priest Holmes these days, anyway? Maybe Todd France knows.)
Anyhow, it's worth reiterating that the Eagles are eager to have an official Westbrook representative to talk to, that they seem very interested in doing a Westbrook deal. They don't want this to be the season of the unhappy No. 36. But they also aren't guaranteeing $30 million to a soon-to-be-29-year-old running back.