Kopp applies football lessons to law practice

By Greg Gulas

Atty. Brian Kopp told the Curbstone Coaches that he competes for his clients.

BOARDMAN – Football has always had a special place in Brian Kopp’s heart.

From his playing days at both Wilson and Boardman high schools, to his collegiate days at Bethany College to his current position as an attorney and certified sports agent with the National Football League Players Association, it was football that taught him the rules of life while yielding his competitive nature.

As the guest speaker at Monday’s weekly Curbstone Coaches meeting at the Blue Wolf Banquet Center, the local attorney was both entertaining and informative as he shed some light on his duties as a sports agent.

“I had the good fortune to play football for my father and along with my brothers, we all learned to compete within the rules of the game, fight for what is yours, win with class but also when you lose, lose with dignity.

“From football to my profession as an attorney, I learned to fight zealously for my clients but to do so within the rules of the game,” he noted.

A 1995 graduate of the Capital University School of Law, Kopp was also the very first graduate student admitted to the highly-regarded Ohio University Sports Administration program when they began joint admittance of future lawyers expressing a desire to learn the agent side of the sports ledger.

A civil trial lawyer whose focus is medical malpractice and wrongful death, a phone call from family friend, Chuck Saulino, helped change his focus a bit when he heard of their plans to start a sports agency.

“I received a call from Chuck and he proceeded to mention to me that along with Eddie DeBartolo, Jr., their thoughts were to start a sports agency.¬† He wanted some advice on where to begin and after I told him they needed an agent, everything just snowballed from there for me,” he noted.

Known as DeBartolo Sports Entertainment, the group gained instant credibility when pioneer agent Ralph Cindrich joined forces with D.S.E.

In addition to Kopp and Cindrich, D.S.E. employs three other agents, all of whom are licensed attorneys. They include Canfield native Adam VanRees who operates out of Tampa; Adam Heller, who is in Columbus, and Greg Diulus of Pittsburgh.

“The legal side of the business is not very difficult; in fact it is pretty straightforward. The player-management side, however, has been a real learning experience,” Kopp stated.

“Ralph [Cindrich] and Mr. [Eddie] DeBartolo have been unbelievable mentors while Chuck [Saulino] has been great on the business side as well.”

In all, D.S.E. employs about 25 people, one of whom is former Miami Hurricane and Denver Broncos running back Melvin Bratton who serves as one of their support staff.

D.S.E.’s most recognizable client is former Heisman Trophy winner and Ohio State quarterback, Troy Smith.

Smith was a top pick in the 2007 draft class while the group expects to represent 10 potential draft picks in this year’s draft class.

“De Shaun Jackson of the University of California, the number one rated wide receiver in this year’s draft, is already in the fold, and we also represent Toledo native Fred Jackson, a tight end from USC. Both are expected to go in the first round of this year’s draft,” Kopp said.

“The possibility of representing two first-round picks and four players who can possibly be selected in the first two rounds will definitely keep us busy.”

Upon conclusion of the meeting, Kopp was heading to the airport for a trip to Tampa where all D.S.E. officials will huddle as they begin preparations for the upcoming NFL Draft.

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