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Friday, June 21
Falcons turn to ex-agent Anderson

By Len Pasquarelli

ATLANTA -- As part of the new front-office structure being enacted by first-year owner Arthur Blank, the Atlanta Falcons on Friday hired longtime agent Ray Anderson as the club's executive vice present and chief administrative officer.

The announcement of Anderson's addition to the franchise, first reported by ESPN.com, was made in an afternoon press release. Anderson will start his new duties on Monday.

Anderson will join marketing chief Dick Sullivan and head coach Dan Reeves in the executive officer ranks and be responsible for all of the finance, human resources, systems, legal, facilities, logistics and travel functions. His legal responsibilities will include contract negotiations and salary cap administration.

He becomes the third of what will be a four-pronged assemblage of vice presidents. The team still needs to fill its general manager position but may not do that until after the 2002 season.

"It's a whole new set of challenges," Anderson told ESPN.com. "The motivation, for me, is the challenge. I'm ready to try things from the other side of the bargaining table, and am really excited by the opportunity Mr. Blank has given me, and where I feel that we can take this franchise."

Anderson has enjoyed a long and successful career representing both players and head coaches in the NFL and only last summer completed the sale of his firm, AR Sports, to Octagon, the McLean, Va.-based sports and entertainment giant. Octagon this spring won the annual ESPN.com "agent derby" for garnering a dozen clients in the 2002 draft.

During his stint at Octagon, Anderson served as head of the firm's coaches division, and partner Ken Landphere will now be elevated into that spot. An Octagon spokesman said the company as "great confidence" in Landphere and lauded the work of Anderson with the company.

The selection of Anderson as chief administrative officer came after what one source termed an "exhaustive search," but only accelerated in terms of hiring the former agent in recent weeks. Anderson said he was first contacted by the executive search firm used by the Falcons about a month ago. Current team officials Bob Wallace of the St. Louis Rams and Kevin Warren of the Detroit Lions were believed to be among some of the candidates also considered for the post.

"Ray brings a unique set of skills and strong negotiating experience to our club," Blank said. "He is very excited about joining the Falcons and working in the NFL at a different level, and I am equally excited about having him on board." The addition of Anderson to the Falcons front office provides the team an experienced negotiator and a man who, more important, as always been held in high regard around the league. His player clientele has included a number of first-round draft choices and he also represented NFL head coaches Brian Billick, Tony Dungy, Dennis Green and Herman Edwards as well as new Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham.

He also represented a number of prominent assistant coaches, like Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis and Vikings defensive coordinator Willie Shaw. Over the past several years, Anderson was an outspoken proponent for the need to hire more minority head coaches in the league.

Anderson said it was the "vision and the mission" being forced by Blank which finally convinced him to accept the position with the club.

"When I was first approached, this was just a curiosity for me, an intriguing possibility," he said. "But Mr. Blank has a goal to embrace this community and all of its diverse components. And in return, he wants to do what he can to earn the respect of the city, and to be embraced by the community. And I want to be a part of that."

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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