Harvin, agent form bond

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Percy Harvin failed a drug test at the scouting combine in February, he wasn't sure where to turn.

His NFL stock had just taken a serious hit and Harvin, the ultra-talented, do-everything athlete out of Florida, was wondering just how to get himself out of this mess.

Harvin first turned to his family for support as questions about his character and his long-term viability in the league persisted. Then he looked to the man representing him, Joel Segal, who has experience handling difficult situations.

Segal helped Harvin attack the adversity head-on, and the receiver's ability to bluntly, and convincingly, accept responsibility for the positive marijuana test while also promising that his troubles were behind him ultimately kept him in the first round.

"That's going to be a tough situation for anybody," Segal told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "Especially for a young man who is in a situation where this is his dream. Now there's a speed bump."

Thanks in large part to the way Harvin handled the test, it proved to be just that -- a speed bump rather than a stop sign. The Minnesota Vikings were comfortable enough to select him with the 22nd pick in the first round, putting Harvin in position to sign a multimillion-dollar contract that Segal is expected to begin negotiating with the Vikings in earnest this week.

"I had a lot of support throughout the situation," Harvin said at his introductory press conference in April. "I want to thank my agent Joel Segal. He was a big part of this whole process, and he was with me. I feel like [he] became not only my agent but became a good friend and we had a bond."

Harvin offered that endorsement unsolicited and thanked Segal several more times that day.

"One of the most rewarding times I've had as an agent was on draft day when Percy came up and hugged me and said, 'Thanks a lot for everything,'" Segal said. "That was one of my highest moments as an agent."

The super agent who also represents Michael Vick, Santonio Holmes and Reggie Bush said Harvin "is a special guy you just want to be around."

"I've become Percy's friend and his agent," Segal said. "And along the entire draft process, there were good things and bad things and things to handle. I'm there as an experienced adviser. Percy rose to the occasion, and on draft day, the results of that hard work were there."

Segal knows what it's like to represent a client who runs into trouble off the field. Vick was recently released from prison after serving 19 months for charges related to dogfighting and is still waiting to hear from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on whether he will face a suspension should he sign with a team this season.

Segal said it took only a few minutes in his first meeting with Harvin on the Florida campus for the two to make a connection. With a bright smile and a gift for gab, Harvin won Segal over much the same way he did Vikings coach Brad Childress during a pre-draft visit.

"Percy's a special guy," Segal said. "He stands out because he's a sincere guy. He's a guy so loyal to his friends and family. Juxtapose that to a great sense of humor and a really cool demeanor. That's Percy."

And that's just off the field. When Harvin is on it, look out.

His combination of speed, elusiveness and vision made him a touchdown-scoring machine in college for the Gators. The Vikings will have all kinds of options on offense with Harvin and Adrian Peterson on the field together.

Harvin can line up at receiver and running back, take the direct snap and also return punts and kicks. The variety of duties Harvin will have in the NFL, Childress said, makes it all the more important to get him into training camp on time.

Childress compared the responsibilities and learning that Harvin will do at training camp to that of a quarterback, just because of the sheer volume of information he will have to absorb in a relatively short amount of time.

"There are so many little nuances, route conversions, them getting used to the bump and run because it is more physical right now and different than it was when you can't bump and run in your OTAs and minicamps," Childress said. "It's voluminous."