The National Football League draft was not conducted for the benefit of agent Mike Trope, but it seemed that way after 11 of his clients were selected, four in the first round.
The 25-year-old from Los Angeles figures on setting a record for the best contract ever negotiated for a rookie when he negotiates with the Dallas Cowboys on behalf of Tony Dorsett.
The beginning of Trope's domino theory happened ideally. All-America running back Ricky Bell signed with Tampa Bay on draft day for a reported $1.24 million over five seasons. Thus Trope can apply immediate pressure on the Cowboys with that transaction as a precedent.
Dorsett is so much more the exciting player that Trope plans to top the deal acquired for Bell. Despite their fabulous success over the years, the Cowboys have had difficulty in selling out the last 5,000 to 10,000 seats. Trope should correct that.
If he drew as much as 5,000 fans extra a game next season at an average of about $8 a ticket for seven home games and a couple of exhibitions - which are tied in with the season ticket sale - Dorsett would more than pay his way. That would bring in something like $400,000 a year and he would be a drawing card on the raod, too, where the visiting team picks up 40 per cent of the profits.
The new Jerry Kapstein - or should it be the other way around? - had said at Super Bowl time that he could deliver enough front-line rookies to put a team in the Super Bowl, if there were no draft and they were all dealing as free agents with all 28 teams.
He was precluded from trying to make good on that claim when the NFL and the union agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement. But a run down on his clients suggests he might very well have been able to deliver to a team with a fat purse.
Trope's contention is that no other agent had more than one draftee picked on the first round. He had Bell, Dorsett, offensive tackle Mary Powell of Southern California, and offensive tackle Warren Bryant of Kentucky on the first round, the last named two taken by the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons, respectively.
On the second round, wide receiver Wesley Walker of California went to the Jets; on the third round, running back Robin Earl of Washington to Chicago and on the fourth round, running back Laverne Smith of Kansas to Pittsburgh.
Trope had three clients taken in the fifth round, wide receiver Shelton Diggs, USC, by Atlanta; guard Donnie Hickman, USC, by Los Angeles; line-backer Ray Phillips, Nebraska, by Cincinnati and on the eighth round, defensive back Clint Strozier, USC, by Minnesota.
Allowing that Bell and Dorsett will receive at least $1.24 million each, and remembering that rookies now must be offered minimum salaries of $20,000 for one year and up to $60,000 in multi-year contracts, Trope's commissions should be staggering.
One could say that Seattle slew the Redskins in the Eastern Division race by trading the rights to Dorsett to Dallas, but there was an odd circumstance. Dorsett diclosed that a friend wrote a letter to the Seahawks, warning them that the All-America from Pittsburgh did not want to play there. It isn't often that George Allen is the victim of such goings-on.
Trope let it be known that his firm no longer is listed as World Sports Management. "I changed it to M.L. Trope and Co., Inc.," he said at the draft meeting, "a little ego trip."
Two current coaches were first-round draft picks as players, quarterback Ted Marchibroda of Detroit U., by the Steelers in 1953, and end Bud Grant of Minnesta U. by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1950.
The NFL denies that the next Super Bowl game will be played at night, but it may be played in the late, late afternoon. And Thursday night football is not absolutely out of the question in 1978, because the pros are restricted from playing on Fridays and Saturdays for most of the season.
George Allen is the only coach to avail himself of the league's statistivs showing how many fans saw each team in television games. Allen uses the figures to inspire his Redskins when they are on national networks.
The National Conference can boast of having the first two picks in the draft for a change. The NFC has ended up with the top pick only three of 10 times ince there has been a combined draft. Bell was the first running back to be the top pick in the draft since O.J. Simpson of the AFC in 1969. The AFC also got big names in 1970, Terry Bradshaw, and in 1971, Jim Plunkett. The NFC got defensive end Ed (Too Tall) Jones in 1974 and quarterback Steve Bartkowski in 1975.