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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Mar. 14, 201904:01 AM EST

Michael Huyghue: NFL attorney and sports executive

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Former Jaguars VP meets federal Bar.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Michael Huyghue has been in the sports business since he graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1987.

He worked for the NFL Players Association and at the league’s corporate headquarters before he joined the Jacksonville Jaguars front office soon after the team was established in 1993.

His current venture, Jacksonville-based Michael Huyghue & Associates, is a boutique sports law and consulting firm.

Huyghue added “published author” to his curriculum vitae in August.

He was the guest speaker Tuesday at the Jacksonville Chapter of the Federal Bar Association’s March CLE meeting.

“Behind the Line of Scrimmage: Inside the Front Office of the NFL” was published by Center Street, a division of Little, Brown.

In the book, Huyghue tells his story from childhood athletics to becoming one of the highest-ranking African-American executives in the NFL, along with his impressions of what goes on behind the scenes between professional sports owners, players and managers.

“I entered the profession thinking that I would one day be the commissioner of the NFL,” said Huyghue, who didn’t take over the top football league’s top job, but was commissioner of the startup United Football League from 2007-12.

During his career, Huyghue represented players while negotiating collective bargaining agreements, and later, the team owners in a  similar capacity when he was with the NFL Management Council.

“I learned the inner workings of why teams won and why teams lost, and the business practices. It was a great education,” he said.

Huyghue talked about the impact the salary cap has on building an NFL team. He said this year’s cap – the maximum total player payroll allowed for each team – is $190 million, but it’s not set up to be an equitable distribution, based on per-player salary trends followed by the most successful teams.

On average, “the top 10 players earn 60 percent of the salary cap and the top 25 players will earn 80 percent of the cap,” Huyghue said.

With more than 30 years of sports law and management experience, Huyghue said he most enjoyed some of his experiences with newly signed players while he was part of the front office staff with the Detroit Lions and the Jaguars.

“The best day for me as a lawyer and as a general manager was handing a player a check for $5 million or $10 million. It changed their lives,” he said.

Federal Bar Association President Collette Cunningham said the organization is preparing for its 16th annual The Honorable Ralph “Buddy” Nimmons Federal Practice Seminar on April 29 at the Bryan Simpson U.S. Courthouse.

The five-hour event will begin at 11:45 a.m. Speakers will include U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Tallman, one of the three circuit judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review; and University of South Carolina law professor Seth Stoughton, a nationally recognized expert on police body-worn cameras.

Cunningham said registration for the seminar will open next week at jaxfedbar.org.

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