Excel Sports Management Acquires Rival Talent Agency REP 1


The fourth-most-valuable sports agency instantly becomes a major player in on-field representation in the NFL as the industry continues to consolidate.

Excel Sports Management, one of the juggernauts of sports talent representation, announced on Monday that it had acquired REP 1 Football, a rival agency whose roster includes Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp, Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff and Cleveland Browns guard Joel Bitonio. REP 1 cofounder and CEO of football Ryan Tollner and president of football Chase Callahan will become co-heads of the company’s new football division.

Excel, which is headquartered in New York City, declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal.

The acquisition makes Excel, which already has massive basketball, baseball, golf and coaching divisions, a major player in on-field representation in the NFL. While the 21-year-old agency has represented past and present football stars on the marketing side—including Peyton Manning, Joe Montana and Justin Herbert—it has never had a presence in NFL playing contract negotiations.

Even without an on-field NFL footprint, Excel was ranked No. 4 on Forbes’ 2022 list of North America’s most valuable sports agencies, with an estimated $5.75 billion in active contracts under management, worth up to $499 million in commissions. REP 1, meanwhile, landed at No. 13 on the list, with $1.67 billion in contracts and maximum commissions of $60 million, although those numbers included small baseball and basketball divisions. (REP 1’s basketball group dissolved when its lead agent, Kevin Bradbury, left for LIFT Sports Management this past spring, and Excel is not acquiring the baseball unit.)

The expanded company will help Excel close the gap on industry behemoths CAA ($17.77 billion in active contracts and $971 million in maximum commissions on the 2022 agency list), Wasserman ($9.49 billion, $733 million) and WME Sports ($6.4 billion, $588 million). But those three agencies have been busy making acquisitions as well, most notably CAA’s 2022 purchase of ICM Partners and its world-class roster of soccer clients, including Jack Grealish and Gareth Bale. Just last month, Wasserman bought the U.K.-based CSM Sport & Entertainment.

Other major talent agencies—including Octagon, No. 5 on the agency list with $3.24 billion in active contracts and $212 million in maximum commissions—have also joined the wave of consolidation, snapping up smaller competitors. On Forbes’ 2022 agency list, the top five combined for $3 billion in maximum commissions, more than double the total for the next 15 agencies in the ranking.

In addition to expanding into new sports and new geographic regions, the industry powerhouses are breaking away from the traditional sports silo. Wasserman, for instance, launched an investing offshoot called Wasserman Ventures in April and unveiled a “creators” vertical in October with the acquisition of J1S. Meanwhile, Mike Fonseca, an Excel agent who represented athletes including boxer Canelo Álvarez, recently left to found his own firm, the Fonseca Group, aiming to blend the talent business with private equity investing.

The agency landscape could see further upheaval after the holding company of French billionaire François-Henri Pinault bought a majority stake in CAA in September, and as WME parent Endeavor reportedly considers going private. Regardless, as the industry increasingly becomes a battle between the haves and the have-nots, Excel’s latest deal gives it an important new foothold.

“We have been very intentional and selective in growing Excel’s business,” Jeff Schwartz, the agency’s founder and president, said in a statement Monday, adding, “REP 1 Football has a reputation as an agency for achieving unparalleled results for draft selections and negotiating record-breaking contracts, which fills out the work we do in football across our agency and firmly establishes Excel as a major player in the most popular sport in America.”


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