“I interviewed a lot of (sports agents),” Keller said. “Eugene Parker was ahead of anybody with whom I spoke.

“It’s honesty … he keeps it real. He doesn’t tell you something that isn’t true or that he can’t deliver.”

Parker, the former Purdue basketball standout, has negotiated eye-opening contracts for many NFL standouts, including Hall of Fame member Rod Woodson, Deion Sanders, Larry Fitzgerald, Devin Hester, Hines Ward, Emmitt Smith and Keller.

“For me, it has been a commitment to excellence in what I do,” said Parker, 54, who heads Fort Wayne-based Maximum Sports Management. “It’s also about having a real concern for the welfare of the young men. I set the right example for them.

“It’s about being honest with them. Sometimes, I’m brutally honest. I treat them in a way that will help them grow and develop.”

Parker did not set out to be a sports agent. He would have been perfectly happy practicing law in Fort Wayne.

Then, Parker received a call from Roosevelt Barnes, a former Purdue basketball and football player who was trying to negotiate a contract with the Detroit Lions.

“He would call me for advice from time to time, and I just helped him out,” Parker said.

“They were talking about extending his contract. He said, ‘Why don’t you just represent me?’ That’s how I got started. Now, he is my partner.”

Barnes, a Fort Wayne native, said Parker’s reputation as an honest negotiator distances him from some in his field.

“He tries to educate players about the business of football and pro sports,” Barnes said. “Those are the things that have made him successful.

“A lot of times, young men are attracted to the hype, the flash and all of the bling-bling. But that’s not what it’s about. It’s really about using this opportunity to change lives — your life and your family’s lives. That has motivated Eugene.”

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