The St. Louis Rams offseason has been mostly a positive one, except for some needless freaking out over the L.A. issue. You knew there would eventually be a bump in the road, and that happened Thursday with Jason Cole's report that the team is at odds with second-round pick Janoris Jenkins over the matter of his financial adviser.
Cole says, according to four sources, that head coach Jeff Fisher is adamant that Lou Taylor of Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group serve as Jenkins' financial adviser. Despite the news outlet being in possession of a copy, Taylor denies that part of the paperwork between her and Jenkins has been completed, rather insistently as you can see from this passage:
"I do not work for Janoris Jenkins," said Taylor, who twice hung up on conversations with Yahoo! Sports and sent a text message threatening to inform the NFL Players Association that she was questioned about Jenkins.
Jenkins' agent Malik Shareef, who the cornerback reportedly hired based on his reputation for working closely with players who bring off-field concerns into the league with them, was said to have promised Fisher that Jenkins hire a business manager to assist him. That move is particular important given the rookie's paternity situation.
Except that sort of thing is against the rules of the new CBA, and you can be sure that either Jenkins' agent or someone close to the PA has probably dished to Cole on the matter.
The issue is also holding up the Rams' ability to finalize a contract with Jenkins, along with a more normal disagreement over deferred money.
Taylor, according to the report, has managed money for Fisher, but specializes in troubled young stars. Her clients include Britney Spears, and she was dumped by none other than Lindsay Lohan.
Jenkins had a management team in place prior to the draft, something that reportedly concerns the Rams. Rightfully so, twentysomethings turned into overnight millionaires can get into trouble with their money, not to mention ripped off. The Rams' leadership has gone out of their way to keep Jenkins' focused on the game, since they are pinning quite a few hopes on his talent.
To Jenkins' credit, he was very forthcoming about his past in the process leading up to the draft. He has also avoided trouble since his transfer to North Alabama.
Fisher famously said that the team would keep a close watch on Jenkins to help him transition to the pros and all the things that go with it, i.e. money. I can personally vouch for that, having seen them shoo off the media asking Jenkins about anything other than a narrow window of the usual kind of questions asked of rookies and anything but his past.
But just how much say do they have over a player like Jenkins? Fisher has a long, successful history of working with players others have passed on because of off-field concerns or character issues. Clearly, their work with Jenkins has crossed a legal line with regard to the rules in the CBA. Has it also crossed a moral line as well? Are the Rams overstepping their bounds with their insistence over Jenkins' financial decisionmaking ability?
More importantly, can the team resolve the situation while still keeping Jenkins relatively free from the kind of distractions that can compromise his play? Cole's report says that both sides are hopeful something can be done. The season may depend on that.