Seattle Seahawks linebacker Tony Woods says that when he tried to break his contract with sports agents Norby Walters and Lloyd Blom, they threatened to end his younger brother's college football career at the University of Pittsburgh.
The threat was contained in the recording of a telephone conversation played Tuesday at the federal trial of Walters, 58, and Bloom, 29, who are charged with fraud, racketeering and extortion.Woods testified that he accepted about $10,000 in loans, plus plane tickets for himself and his younger brother from Walters and Bloom after signing a contract with the two in February 1986 while he was still a junior at Pittsburgh.
NCAA rules forbid athletes from signing with an agent or accepting any payments until after their final season of eligibility is completed.
Walters also lent $6,000 to Woods' parents, who own a house cleaning business in South Orange, N.J., Woods testified.
In December 1986, Woods said he fired the pair as his agents because of rumors they had Mafia ties.
He said he hired agent Bruce Allen of Phoenix, Ariz., to represent him in NFL negotiations, causing Walters to file a $500,000 breach of contract lawsuit against the linebacker. The suit was later dropped.
On the tape played in court, Bloom first warned Woods that Walters was "ready to bring down the Pitt program on probation" by informing the NCAA of the airline ticket his younger brother, Darryl, received.
Walters was more conciliatory with Woods, according to the tape.
"Never once did I act like a cutie pie, a big shot, a wise guy. Then you drop the bomb," Walters said on the tape of the 1987 conversation. "I don't want to be a rat, create problems for Pittsburgh, create problems for the Woods family."
Woods said he interpreted Walters' comments as a threat to cause financial problems for him and his family, and to see to it that his brother would be unable to finish his last two seasons at Pitt.
"That really angered me," Woods testified. "My brother didn't do anything."
In other testimony, Texas football players Everett Gay and Edwin Simmons told the jury that they received several thousand dollars for signing with the agents while still students.
They also testified about what they claimed was a threat from Bloom to have goons break Gay's legs because he was talking about breaking his contract with the agents.
"He said, `We can make a phone call to Las Vegas and get someone who can make sure Everett Gay will not play football ever again,"' said Simmons, who didn't go on to play pro football.