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Hernandez situation highlights potential dilemma for sports agencies


On Friday, Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez appeared on the cover of the Boston Herald wearing a Muscle Milk hat and an Athletes First hoodie.

That same day, the maker of Muscle Milk cut him loose as an endorser. Athletes First hasn’t -- and likely won’t -- sever ties with Hernandez.

Even if the firm founded by Dave Dunn were to part ways with Hernandez, the damage already has occurred. In multiple photos taken over the past few days, Dunn’s firm has gotten free advertising on a less-than-ideal billboard.

The reality is that plenty of sports agencies generate hats and shirts and other gear. Most do it without considering the possibility that the gear will show up somewhere the agency wishes it didn’t. One agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity, explained that the agent’s firm ultimately decided not to distribute clothing and hats bearing the firm’s name.

The discussion, according to the agent, including this observation: “What is someone robs a bank while wearing our stuff?”

That doesn’t mean it would be a client. Once gear bearing a firm’s name and/or logo is made and distributed, it can show up anywhere. For major manufacturers like Nike, UnderArmour, Reebok, and Garanimals (I didn’t want to leave anyone out), it’s unavoidable -- and irrelevant. For a sports agency, it’s an unfortunate and unwanted association.

So at a time when Athletes First likely will demonstrate loyalty to Hernandez, the best way for Hernandez to return the favor would be to not wear Athletes First gear in public. Or in any eventual mugshots.