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No Limit Sports agent Leland Hardy is asked whether the NFL is afraid of his group.
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 Hardy says his group signals the arrival of hip-hop in sports agent circles.
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 Master P says it's time for a black-owned sports agency.
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This four-part online series was a companion to the Outside the Lines television show.

April 22, 1999
Hardy: We want all four

The signing of Ricky Williams is merely the first move toward No Limit Sports representing the top half dozen draftable players each year in the four largest sports, said Leland Hardy, managing director of the company.

In a chat session with ESPN.com users as part of an Outside the Lines series, Hardy laid out the ambitious plans by Master P's new Baton Rouge, La.-based sports agency, which he said also plans to own and manage the top events in sports.

If you missed the April 22 chat session, here is an edited transcript:

Hardy bio
Rookie of the year in the sports agent business has to be Master P, the rap artist whose No Limits Sports agency will represent Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams in his contract negotiations with the New Orleans Saints. His emergence on the agent scene has been met with skepticism from more established agents, who insist the job requires considerable experience.

However, Master P is just the money behind No Limits. Those who actually do the work for the company include Leland Hardy, a former professional boxer who later was an investment banker on Wall Street. A graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, he managing director and chief investment officer of No Limit Sports and a certified NFL and NBA agent.

Michael Coley: Was it a plan to get Ricky Williams in New Orleans where No Limit is based, or was it just a lucky coincidnce that the Saints wanted him so badly?

Leland Hardy: It wasn't a coincidence. The Saints, we hoped and prayed, would take him if he didn't go to Cleveland. They gave us the most cordial reception in our six-city, six-team, three-day tour. It so happened also that president and GM Bill Kuharich and I went to same Catholic grade school, Waldron Academy, outside of Philadelphia. So we were able to talk about nuns and so forth. Also, us being headquartered in Baton Rouge, it allows us to have a marriage with the Saints, per se, for co-promotion opportunities.

Kevin: How happy was Master P when he found out Ricky would be in New Orleans?

Leland Hardy: He was elated, as was Ricky's mother. As you may know, Ricky's grandfather lives in New Orleans and his mother once lived there, so he has a lot of family there. With Master P there, it makes everything work well.

Brent Gunn: I read that No Limits has added some new clients since the draft, can you tell us who they are?

Leland Hardy: Besides Ricky, we did place successfully one drafted and five undrafted players with five different teams. The players are Charles Dorsey (DT Lions), Paul Miranda (CB Colts, drafted as first player in fourth round), Lamont Green (LB Falcons), James Roscoe (DE 49ers), Eafon Kelvin (RB-FB Raiders), and Jason Bray (CB Patriots).

Robert Cooper: What are your comments or response to negative criticism that you have been receiving from the more established agents?

Leland Hardy: My reaction is one that I clearly understand. I expect criticisms from rival agents in this most competitive of businesses. We fully anticipate signing and representing the first seven or eight players chosen in the first rounds of all future drafts in the four major organized sports in America -- football, baseball, hockey and basketball. And we plan to completely take over boxing by controlling the heavyweight and other divisions. So I fully understand their negative criticisms and trepidation.

Why do we think we can take over hockey? Hip-hop transcends sports, race and culture. I used to play hockey myself and I know the game well. I've been to the last several Final Fours in hockey. Hockey players will want the same level of professionalism as players in other sports.

As you may know, I personally am -- or have been -- the family personal business advisor to the Williams family for 11 years. You also might expect I will try to make No Limits No. 1 in the tennis and golf management business as well.

Jason Guyton: How do you feel about the agent industry in relation to African Americans? Will it change, or remain the same in light of the opportunities at No Limit Sports?

Leland Hardy: Our status as leaders in the industry and the excellence with which we handle our business will create opportunities for those lesser represented in the industry's ranks.

Marc Luckett: Since Ricky was the second running back taken in the draft, do you think it'll be fair to ask for a salary more than what Edgerrin James will get, assuming he signs before Ricky does?

Leland Hardy: The salary that Ricky Williams will command will be based upon a formula involving his team's rookie pool, length of contract, and other factors. Whether that ends up being more or less than Edgerrin James' contract is not now known, nor is it based upon James' contract. I'm looking for the best contract for Ricky Williams.

Tim: Why does No Limit want to portray an image that's more like hoodlums than what you are really like as people? Why should people have to see past the hoodlum image? Sometimes a person's image is influential on people. They see the money, the gangster image, the women and they think, 'Hey let's be like that.' Knowing several languages, you must be smart. Why not show that part of you (the good side) instead of the negative things that are shown?

Leland Hardy: I have never shown any side to the public other than what I can show -- and by your question's very nature, the side you have seen is of an intellectual, concerned contract negotiator. The other things to which you refer have exclusively to do with entertainment and media within the culture of hip-hop, and have to do with the images and lifestyles depicted by No Limit recording artists in music videos and elsewhere.

Leland Hardy: Let me make a statement: No Limit has established certain unprecedented vehicles for both the global promotion of its athlete-clients and their continuing education, unlike any other agency in history or at present.

For example, we have just launched the most ambitious Internet undertaking in history, Newyork.com, which will offer to the world all of the things for which New York is the world's capital, including shopping, sports stars, Wall Street, entertainment, and communities.

We're on a mission with Newyork.com to create multi-billion dollar stock valuations in excess of those enjoyed by giants like Amazon.com, Ebay.com, Theglobe.com, Geocities.com, Yahoo.com and all the rest.

  We fully anticipate signing and representing the first seven or eight players chosen in the first rounds of all future drafts in the four major sports.  ”
—  Leland Hardy
We have also started B.I.C.E.P.S, which stands for Business Institute for Continuing Education in Professional Sports, as a joint venture with the No. 1 business school in the world, the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, where No Limit athletes and selected others will be educated in all of the key functional areas of business by the top professors in the world in those fields.

Jason Guyton: What is next for No Limit Sports, and will you try to incorporate your relationship with the Williams sisters at No Limit Sports?

Leland Hardy: My relationship with the Williams sisters is separate from my involvement with No Limit. However, whenever they wish and however they wish, the Williams family can avail themselves of whatever resources we have at No Limit.

Sara: Do you have the resources of an IMG, for example, to offer potential clients in terms of creating an attractive overall package?

Leland Hardy: I know Mark McCormack, the founder and CEO of IMG, personally and I respect him as a business leader and pioneer. However, I feel strongly that as we embark upon the new millenium that No Limit represents the ultimate change agents in the sports management business and I expect to compete quite favorably with the likes of IMG and others to represent the world's leading stars of sports and entertainment, and the management and ownership of the world's largest sporting events.

A Brown Brotha': Let me first say that I'm glad to finally see a person of color make some waves in what can considered a predominantly white career path. I applaud the business acumen of both you and Master P.

Now to the question. Racism is still alive in America -- that's a fact! Do you think that will scare other African Americans away from No Limit, in an effort to conform to the dominant society? I suspect some might if they do not posess a political and cultural consciousness.

Leland Hardy: We have positioned No Limit so that it transcends race, creed, color and culture. And it is because of that connection, we believe, that the top athletes and entertainers in the world will gravitate toward us regardless of their race, creed, color or culture.

I have to take another call now, but thanks a lot for the questions.

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