The decision to do business with Walters has brought trouble to a number of players. Harris says the trips to New York and L.A. contributed to his becoming academically ineligible at Texas. Mott, racked by guilt over his acceptance of money, found himself withdrawing, lying to his closest friends. His fiancée didn't approve of his involvement with Walters. When she found out that Mott had paid for her $200 engagement ring with money from Walters, she threw the ring away, Mott says.
Mott's performance on the field may have suffered as well. "It [the money] killed a very important drive," says his current adviser, the Reverend Ken Fairley. "A drive he had used as a motivation factor." Mott says Walters "always told me that by signing with him, I'd go higher in the draft." When the draft was held, Mott was not selected, but he signed as a free agent with Dallas. He left camp after two days.
The unhappiest people in all this, though, just might be Walters and Bloom. All but two of their original first-round clients—Palmer and the Raiders' No. 1 pick, John Clay, an offensive tackle from Missouri—have deserted them, and the two agents are likely to be involved in lawsuits and investigations for months, even years. Bloom may be decertified by the NFLPA for his conduct, meaning he cannot negotiate contracts for anyone except rookies, who at present are not governed by the NFLPA. Bloom says if he is decertified, he will sue the NFLPA. Walters, who was certified in 1985 but no longer is, says, "I don't feel like being governed by other institutions." If the NFLPA extends its authority to include the contracts of rookies, as it wants to, Walters and Bloom could be shut out of football.
It's astonishing that Walters and Bloom remain on speaking terms, let alone partners. Walters groans that the day he met Bloom "will go down in infamy." Asked how he could ally himself with a man he has described as a loudmouth and "a loose cannon," Walters says, "I really must have been out of my mind. It seemed like a good idea at the time." Yet the two vow to continue in the sports-agenting business, and to succeed on a grand scale. "My relationship with Norby right now is very good," Bloom said last week. He said he speaks with Walters three or four times a day and dismisses Norby's criticism of him by saying, "I just take heed. I always watch my own back. Norby can say things sometimes that he doesn't mean."
"Please, and I say please, don't paint me as a guy who's a bad-news bear," says Walters. "I've worked very hard for my [clients]. This [negative] press...is reaching right into my music business that I've spent my life putting together."
Walters claims he was swept into the vortex of a greed-based college sports system. "This is something I dipped my toe in, and all of a sudden I found myself being sucked in and couldn't stop because there's no way to stop," he says. "Whatever you're writing, write it so that it doesn't look like I'm throwing money at these kids like I'm some sort of madman, because I'm not. The dollars that I gave them, a couple of thousand at first, then $200 here and $100 here—you do that with 20 kids and you have [spent] several hundred thousand dollars. You know what you've got? You've got a stupid investment going."
Walters concludes: "You have yourself out on a limb investing so much more than you ever should have. Because the business doesn't deserve that kind of investment. Better to invest it in a McDonald's. A lot better."