BRENT WILLIAMS reads the headlines in the sports section, and
dollar signs appear in his eyes. The Browns are off to
Baltimore, and the Oilers to Nashville. More than 125 major
league baseball players are testing the free-agent market. And
the Winnipeg Jets of the NHL may migrate to Phoenix.
"As a fan I wish everyone would stay put," says the Seahawk
defensive end who is in his 10th year in the league, "but as a
businessman I'm elated."
Williams owns Team Relocations, a Newburyport, Mass.-based
company that coordinates moves for, among others, professional
athletes and their families. In 1991 he and former University of
Toledo teammate Rodney Whitlow began the venture, which last
year alone oversaw the comings and goings of 620 professional
athletes from all four major sports.
Williams, then with the Patriots, interned in 1990 at Paul Arpin
Van Lines in West Warwick, R.I., and spotted a niche in the $5
billion moving industry. "Check the 'Transactions' section of
the sports page," he says. "Every day someone is traded or signs
with a new team. The player must find a means to transport his
family, furniture and car. It's stressful enough just adjusting
to a new team."
Each morning Whitlow (and, in the off-season, Williams) does
check the agate type. Players on the move are mailed a
personalized brochure that implores them, DON'T MAKE A MOVE
WITHOUT THE TEAM. But Team Relocations is not a moving company,
per se. "Rule number 1 is that I don't lift anything heavier
than a phone," says Williams, who bench-presses 435 pounds. "Our
job is to make the arrangements and eliminate the stress."
Without question professional athletes have unique relocation
hassles. "Tyronne Stowe [now Williams's teammate in Seattle]
signed with the Cardinals in '91 after playing for Pittsburgh,"
recalls Williams. "He wasn't moving his furnishings, but he
wanted four cars transported to Phoenix. I told him, 'Stowie,
you're only going to be there for six months. Drop the image!'"
Williams, 31, has as much firsthand experience with moving as
any of his clients do. Since making the Patriots as a
seventh-round pick in 1986, he and his wife, Jacqueline, have
relocated 10 times, adding two sons along the road. They thought
they had perfected the art of moving when Brent signed with
Seattle in '94. "But even we had a lot to learn," says Williams,
who is eligible to become a free agent and probably will move
again in the off-season. "For instance, we learned that all of
our friends still lived in Boston. Our first month's phone bill,
$852.93, taught us that."
He has recently written a book, A Winning Game Plan, to serve as
a guide for fellow nomads. On the topic of moving, Williams is
clearly a man at home, chatting spiritedly about bills of
lading, corrugated cardboard boxes and trauma to pets. Having
helped move thousands of players, Williams is now intent on
moving entire teams. "Rodney has identified 12 franchises that
are on the verge of relocating," he says. "We have sent each of
them bid proposals."
Has Williams sent his own team a bid? Just last week owner Ken
Behring renewed his threat to move the Seahawks if the Kingdome
doesn't receive $150 million in renovations.
"Send Mr. Behring a bid in the mail?" Williams says with a
laugh. "Heck, no! I'm going straight to the Man."
COLOR PHOTO: RICH FRISHMAN The Seahawks' defensive end is in the moving business, but he avoids the heavy lifting. [Brent Williams]