CURBSTONE COACHES Geletka blends two-field career



The dentist got his start in the sports management field with Bernie Kosar.
By JOHN BASSETTI
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- The art of negotiating pro contracts wasn't Dr. John Geletka's chosen field, but, once he did, it was something he didn't mind sinking his teeth into.
For a dentist by trade, his sports management initiation turned out to be advantageous in the long run, the Campbell native told Curbstone Coaches Association members and guests who attended Monday's noon luncheon at Lockwood House.
Geletka's involvement began in the mid-1980s with Bernie Kosar, who was preparing to graduate from the University of Miami after just three playing seasons.
"At that time, you had to be in school four years to be eligible for the National Football League draft," Geletka told the group. "Kosar wanted to know if he could come out early, so I helped research it. If he couldn't play with the Cleveland Browns, then he would stay at Miami."
Thanks to the system in place for the USFL, it was discovered that Kosar could enter the pros via the supplemental draft.
Got assurance
However, a challenge from some NFL team owners put the plan on hold. After a series of events that culminated in a meeting with then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, Geletka got assurance that Kosar could play for the team he desired.
"He could be the last one to have picked the team he wanted to play for," Geletka said of Kosar's choice, although a player such as the Giants' Eli Manning got his wish to play with a team that didn't draft him.
Geletka said Kosar managed to sign for $6 million -- more than John Elway at the time -- from Art Modell and the Browns. Some of the money worked into the contract was for consulting fees for Kosar's father.
Geletka said he went on to represent other former Browns, including Al Gross and Paul Farren, and Mike Zordich (Eagles) and Jerry Olsavsky (Steelers). He's currently working for Arizona Cardinals center Alex Stepanovich.
Former New England Patriots offensive tackle Bruce Armstrong was a 14-year client and was the best NFL player Geletka dealt with.
He said Armstrong is retired and living in South Florida now. Geletka said he'd be thrilled to introduce Armstrong if and when he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Was YSU trustee
Geletka, who graduated from Kent State before graduating from dental school at Ohio State in 1965, was on the Youngstown State University board of trustees when Joe Malmisur was hired from Hiram. As athletic director, Malmisur brought Jim Tressel on board as football coach.
Geletka was asked about Maurice Clarett's draft status and early earnings potential.
"He'll be eligible next year," Geletka said of the former Ohio State running back. "If he's around the fourth or fifth round, he'd likely get $330,000 combined signing bonus and base salary based on this year's draft figures."
Despite getting a piece of the financial action from NFL players and others in the sports arena, being an agent isn't his first love.
"I like being a dentist," Geletka said. "I'm my own boss and coming and going on my terms."
One of his sons is showing interest in the sports management field, but Geletka said it's not the glamorous business one might expect.
"It's become difficult and cut-throat the past 15 years," he said. "Agents chase kids on campus and the NFL Players Association can't police it. The interaction with agents and high school players is bad and it's only getting worse."
bassetti@vindy.com