Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.
The Super (Bowl) agent: If you’re fortunate enough to represent GOAT quarterback Tom Brady and Super Bowl LI hero Julian Edelman and potential most-sought-after quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, then what do you do for an encore?
If you’re agent Don Yee, you help co-found a developmental professional football league.
More about the Pacific Pro Football League later in this column.
Yee had a front-row seat as Brady led the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history to earn his fifth ring and fourth Super Bowl MVP award, and Edelman, the one-time Kent State quarterback, hauled in an all-time acrobatic super catch, the play of the game.
“It was a very memorable night, obviously,” understated Yee.
Followed shortly thereafter by an Edelman appearance on “The Tonight Show” with that knee-slapping fun guy, coach Bill Belichick, in which Edelman play-acted a New England fisherman in a recorded skit with host Jimmy Fallon.
“When you win, lots of fun things come your way,” Yee said. “I think he had a really good time with it. Julian’s the kind of guy who really enjoys life. It’s been quite a whirlwind since the game.”
And for Yee, that whirlwind continues with the start-up of the PacPro Football League, coming soon to four venues in southern California.
An alternative: Yee’s pro football developmental league is an alternative path for graduated high school players who aren’t eligible for college or who believe would be better served by pro coaches tutoring them until eligible for the NFL draft.
“PacPro generally is for any non-NFL eligible player who wants to earn a salary, play a professional-style game and give himself a wider range of educational options,” Yee said. “PacPro players may come directly from high school, community college, the NCAA or even internationally.”
Yee envisions a four-team league consisting of rosters of 50 players. Players will be paid an average salary of $50,000 while developing football skills trained by a staff of professional coaches teaching the NFL game, with a few modifications for player safety.
Yee said that some of the rule modifications may include the elimination of punt and kickoff returns, limited or no blitzing and mandated man-to-man defense. The league also will look at minimizing or eliminating multiple receiver crossing routes in order to reduce the risk of high-speed collisions.
The league essentially will be a professional football school. One player benefit: one year paid tuition and books at a local community college.
The PacPro Football League is slated to start in summer of 2018. While the league would appear to be a competitor to NCAA football, Yee said he considers it “a supplement” to the college and pro games. It fills a niche for aspiring NFL prospects who simply don’t want to pretend to be “student-athletes.”
“Our game will be a different type of game,” Yee said. “It’s just going to give players a choice of what type of football they want to play and develop in. For example, there may be some players who’ll want to play NCAA football their freshman and sophomore years in college but perhaps may want to play one year in the PacPro and start developing in the professional game. So we actually see it as a supplement and an expansion of the industry.”
Yee projects “affordable” ticket prices and expects the league to be televised and streamed digitally.
“PacPro will be a very accessible product. We feel fan interest will grow. Fans already are missing football,” Yee said.
What about Jimmy G?: As the NFL business season approaches, all eyes in Cleveland -- and in Chicago, San Francisco, Buffalo and other quarterback-starved NFL cities – are fixed on the Patriots and Garoppolo.
Will Belichick trade Brady’s backup for the past three seasons and maximize his assets to surround Brady with enough talent to chase a sixth and seventh ring?
And what will Belichick demand in a trade for Garoppolo? Multiple high picks over multiple years? Or the highest pick possible -- Cleveland’s No. 1 overall?
Plus -- gulp -- more?
“I don’t really have any information at this moment of time about that,” Yee said. “Everybody’s getting ready for the [NFL] Combine as well as preparing for free agency. I don’t know anything at all about what the Patriots plan to do, nor would I even presume to have any suggestion as to what they should do.”
I asked Yee at which point would he become informed of Garoppolo’s destination for 2017.
“Generally, when you just get a phone call from the club that holds the rights to the player, and that club right now is New England and I haven’t gotten any phone calls,” Yee said.