NFL agent Gary Wichard dies at the age of 60 due to pancreatic cancer and diabetes complications
Gary Wichard, longtime agent for some of the National Football League’s (NFL) biggest stars, passed away on Friday 11 March, 2011 due to pancreatic cancer and complications from diabetes at his residence in Westlake Village, California.
The sports agent from Brooklyn, New York opened his first sports agency in 1980 and made Protect Management one of the most successful sports agencies in the United States of America. He represented many big-name players including Baltimore Ravens linebacker
Terrell Suggs, Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil and New York Jets linebacker Jason Taylor.
Taylor had an especially strong relationship with Wichard. His wrist tape contained Wichard’s initials during the 2010 AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and he called Wichard after games during his exceptional career.
"Gary was far more than just an agent in my eyes," Taylor said in a statement sent to a local newspaper on Friday."... He really and truly was like a father to me. He built my career, but it was so much more than that. Gary was by far the most positive person
I've ever met and every person he came into contact with was touched in a positive way. I mean, the guy never had a bad day, or if he did, we certainly never knew it. I love him, and I miss him already."
Wichard had been suspended for nine months by the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) for having “impermissible communication” with former University of North Carolina player Marvin Austin. The union said that he had contact with Austin when he was not eligible
for the NFL Draft anyways.
He was also subject to investigation last year by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). They were looking into his relationship with John Blake, former North Carolina Tar Heels assistant coach. Wichard’s longtime friend resigned from his post
in September of 2010.
Investigators were looking into whether sports agent laws were violated or not, issuing a warrant to search Wichard’s financial records.
"We were looking in other avenues as well, so the investigation will remain open," George Jeter, spokesman for N.C. Secretary of State's office, said Friday
Wichard leaves behind his daughters, Jessica and Dana, and his wife, Marie.
"Gary was a family man first and foremost," Maire Wichard said in a statement. "He also considered his clients to be like family as well."
Funeral arrangements for the person who inspired the movie “Jerry Maguire” are still pending. Cameron Crowe, who directed the movie, said that he saw a picture Wichard hugging one of his clients and got the idea about an agent who was very close to one of
his players. The movie was nominated for Best Picture and grossed more than $270 million worldwide, starring Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding, Jr.