Broken Promises: Inside a Semi-Pro Nightmare, Part Six
August 26, 2016 by Terrance Biggs
In the previous five installments, firsthand accounts of RPFL experiences detailed an accurate portrait of life in that league. While I endeavor to continue documenting everyone’s account, I will introduce documents and photographs to give a full scope of events. People have asked why a supposedly elite league never faced consequence for what people alleged.
Remember Akron Blaze Head Coach Gary Hutt? He provided a bit more depth to these issues. The picture below is Gary Hutt’s RPFL contract, dated and signed by CEO Quentin Hines. This may appear petty, but look at where the word “Injury” should appear. It reads “Ijury”. On an official document, this is not the best of look for the RPFL. Also, note the number of games. By all accounts, Akron played four games. Coach Hutt maintains that he and his assistants were not compensated to the extent of what their contracts stated.
After the abbreviated season, Coach Hutt was fired via text. What was his recourse? Coach Hutt and a couple of his assistants decided to handle these matters in civil court. Below is the case file, in its entirety. The addresses were redacted to protect privacy. Due to the plaintiff’s inability to form a consensus on how to pursue, the case was dropped. According to Coach Hutt, Hines wanted to settle for a thousand dollars.
Phil Ferguson IV ran track at Akron, capturing conference titles while accruing accolades. His RPFL journey starts here:
Q: What was the tryout like?
Ferguson: Well, since it was the first tryout that they did for the league, it was a little sloppy. Before we started, Quentin spoke and told us about how successful this would be, the larger league opportunities such as the CFL and NFL we would have, and how much money we were going to be given, if we make a team. We were given a T-Shirt to try out in and then simply went through the process. After the tryout was over, Quentin handed everyone who made it to the draft an envelope with upcoming information about where the draft would be held and what to expect as well as information on agents that were available.
Q: Can you detail the draft?
Ferguson: When we showed up, we waited around for quite a while. There was a person there doing interview (not sure if they posted any of the content), once the draft finally started people were selected one by one, walked up on stage and shook Quentin’s hand, took a couple pictures then went to the back where your agent was to discuss terms things.
Q: Were all the agents legitimate?
Ferguson: Honestly, they were just guys that wanted to get into the business. They really had no prior experience from what I remember.
Q: How much did the RPFL pay you?
Ferguson: I was never given any money. I was actually hurt and almost lost my leg the practice before the first game
Ferguson: Well we were on a field in Akron, Buchtel if I’m not mistaken. It was in terrible shape: fairly long grass and holes everywhere and was tough to practice on. When were warming up, I stepped in one of the holes, and twisted my ankle which cause blood to rush down into my left leg getting caught It ended up being what’s known as Acute Compartment Syndrome, something that the orthopedic surgeons said that was mainly seen in crash victims. They performed surgery that night. If I would’ve waited, chances are I’d lose my leg. I stayed in the hospital 4-5 days letting the blood that was caught drain out. Physical therapy lasted 4 months.
Q: What do you want players thinking about joining?
Ferguson: I never received any of the $7-$10k, which we were told from the beginning, and neither have any of the players I have spoken to. If they are now offering up to $250,000 for 4 years or whatever it is, don’t be fooled. The chances of you getting any compensation are slim to none. When it comes to getting looks at the next level, I haven’t heard anyone who has had anything even close to a private tryout or invites to particular combines or anything of that nature.
Cody Dieffenbaugher shares his interaction with Quentin Hines and his general RPFL impressions:
Q: When did you feel the RPFL wasn’t what you thought it was?
Dieffenbaugher: When they started telling us the money would be less and less. It was official when they said they weren’t paying us.
Q: When did this occur?
Dieffenbaugher: That was probably about the second week after the league cancelled our game against the Bearcats “because they were folding”. Hines did tell me that they underestimated the cost and there wasn’t enough money to pay everyone. We were welcome to leave if we wanted, but he still talked about getting us more exposure and things like that, so I stayed.
Q: Did you play football after the Blaze folded?
Dieffenbaugher: I went to a few tryouts and actually got a few professional contracts in Europe but never played in another game. The RPFL invited to the “All-Star Game” after the season and I actually went. I wanted to play one more time. We ended up with about 26-30 players total that showed. So, we played offense vs. defense. A guy tore his ACL and I’m sure the RPFL never helped with medical bills and it was a big waste of time.
Q: Why are people afraid to discuss the RPFL?
Dieffenbaugher: I know some of them have personal relationships with Q. Others possibly fear Quentin. They’re afraid he has enough connections to hurt their careers in the long run.
Many don’t want to talk about it out of embarrassment because they were taken advantage of.
The picture below are tickets to the RPFL Draft. Why do players need to pay twenty-five dollars per person to attend this event in a high school? Where does that money go? Where does any of this money end up?