Want To Be An NFL Agent? Some Thanksgiving Advice

Wednesday, an old friend in the business reached out about the son of a friend who’s getting into player representation. “Since the area of NIL and being a player agent is out of my comfort zone, I knew you could provide a link or two for third party guidance,” he wrote. “I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I know you are the best in this area.”

I didn’t have any ready links to send him, and I felt a little bad about that. But since it’s Thanksgiving, I thought I’d give back a little. Having worked with and watched agents make mistakes for more than two decades, here are the three biggest mistakes agents commonly make.

“The contacts I have are enough to make me successful.” I’d say about a third of every agent class enters the business with no contacts. It happens, but it’s rare. Most new agents have an ex-roommate, a friend, a family member or someone else at a key school or NFL team, and that person has promised to help him. i’d even say that more than half have been told by a draft-eligible player, “if you get certified, I’ll sign with you.” It rarely happens, though. The truth is, you have to commit to making a slew of contacts AFTER you get certified, or you’re dead in the water. You have no chance otherwise.

“Negotiating is the most important part of my job.” This is the big takeaway that most sport management programs drill into their students for four years (and maybe two more if the student is dumb enough to pursue a master’s). The truth is, since the 2011 CBA was approved, a rookie deal is cut and dried. Unless you have a player signed as an undrafted free agent, negotiation is not really something a young agent has to have in his bag. It will be a long time before you’re sitting across the table from an NFL executive, angrily haggling over dollars and deals.

“I can do this without spending much money.” I have a wealth manager who is like the Michael Jordan of investment. He is highly accomplished in his field. About 10 years ago, he became part of the ITL family. I kinda rolled my eyes, thinking this was a flight of fancy for a man who’s successful but bored. His first year was pretty much right out of the “how to be an NFL financial advisor” annual. With my guidance, he dutifully attended the top all-star games, handed out his literature to the players, and bought dinners for friendly but usually lightly regarded agents. After a couple years of doing that, he had zero clients. However, he stuck with it, and like anyone who’s smart and pays his dues, he has built a decent practice. But that took 10 years and who knows how much money, not to mention time? He was willing to make the commitment, but even then, it wasn’t easy.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and if you’re part of the ITL family, that is especially true. If you aren’t, and you want to be, I’m eager to start working with you. Don’t want to commit yet? At least sign up for our newsletter.

Have a great day with your family, and enjoy the games.

Rookie Agent Zoom IV: A Few Highlights

Wednesday night, we had our fourth in-depth question-and-answer session aimed at the members of the 2022 NFL Agent Class. Our guest was Greg “Tripp” Linton of HOF Player Representatives, a return guest from last year, when we first launched our Rookie Agent Zoom series. I had to bring him back after he spit straight fire at the ITL members of last year’s class. He didn’t disappoint Wednesday night.

Here are a few highlights.

Quid pro quo: “Nothing is for free in this game,” Tripp said. To illustrate this, he described getting calls from scouts touting under-the-radar prospects (he got four calls from scouts just during the 90 minutes we were on Zoom Wednesday night). When scouts call, they aren’t doing it out of altruism. Their hope is that Tripp signs the player and he goes undrafted, in which case Tripp brings the player to the scout’s team as a UDFA. Does it happen? You bet it does. Not every time, of course, but probably more times than not. Relationships matter in this game.

Relationships with trainers are as important, or more important, than scouts: Tripp must have listed four or five times that he gets a break from his trainers — on payment schedule, on training offered, on services offered, etc. — due to his relationship with them. This doesn’t happen overnight, obviously, but it’s important to cultivate bonds with workout professionals just as you do with scouts, marketing professionals, wealth managers or anyone else.

Balance your conversation when building relationships: You can’t rush a developing relationship in the game, especially when it comes to scouts. You’ll need to engage in other stuff – family, his team’s success, birthdays/holiday greetings, whatever — rather than just pumping NFL evaluators for whatever kind of player info you can get. If you treat these as all take and no give, you won’t get anywhere.

Traits over stats: Most rookie agents won’t represent draftable players. Instead, they’ll have to hope teams see something special that warrants a signing post-draft (or, maybe, selection in the sixth or seventh round). The NFL is all about winning matchups, and more often than not, a team will try to catch lightning in a bottle late in the draft rather than making a solid-but-not-sexy pick. Teams don’t value Day 3 picks the same way they do Days 1 and 2, so often, it becomes dart-throwing time. If you have the chance to sign a player with limited snaps and awards, but off-the-charts triangle numbers, choose the latter. At least in your first year or two as an agent.

There was more, obviously. Here are some of the comments I got after Tripp’s Zoom:

  • “Finding so much value from these zoom calls man. Honored to be a part of the ITL fam and I can’t wait to send your platform to every agent I speak to that follows in my footsteps.”
  • “I have a healthy list of questions to ask (trainers) after last night’s session with Tripp. Damn good stuff as always.”
  • “Tripp is hilarious. I was dying last night. No one keeps it realer.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. If you’re missing these sessions, wow, you’re missing so much. Two more are ahead in December: a deep dive into choosing a trainer and a look at all sides of all-star games. To join us, join ITL.

Still not ready to make the leap to paying $29.95/mo? You can still register for our weekly newsletter, which comes out later today. Do that here.

 

ITL Zoom Sessions: Our Pre-Draft Questions for XFL Officials

Today at 8 p.m. ET, Inside the League will host XFL officials Doug Whaley and Russ Giglio on a Zoom session. This will be the last chance football insiders get to ask Doug and Russ about the league’s draft, which will take place Wednesday and Thursday of next week.

Though we’ve hosted XFL officials on several Zoom calls, we expect this one to be more closely watched due to the imminent selection meeting. We’re giving ITL members a chance to get their questions answered one-on-one, and we think it’s a unique opportunity.

Here are some of the questions we have for Doug and Russ.

The Draft Pool

  • What percentage of the draft pool is from the ’22 draft class? What percentage from ’21?
  • Is there an equal number of players by position in the draft pool? Is there a shortage anywhere?
  • There are close to 2,000 players in the draft pool and only about 400 that will be drafted. What does this mean for the 70 percent of players in the pool who aren’t selected next week?
  • Is it too late to get a player into the draft pool? If not, when’s the deadline?

The Draft

  • Will the draft be broadcast anywhere? If not, where will we learn the results? How will the draftees be notified?
  • How long do you expect the draft to last?

The League

  • Last time we Zoomed, you were still finalizing league contract structure. Can you provide details on that now?
  • In the NFL, all teams do their own evaluation. How does it work in the XFL?
  • Will there be practice squads? Will teams maintain their own short lists or will injury replacements be handled through the league.
  • Will evaluation and scouting be centralized in the league office? How much evaluation is local to the team?
  • Do all teams have the same size scouting staffs?
  • When does camp start? Will there be preseason games?
  • Will there be any post-draft evaluation camps or opportunities to be considered for 2023 rosters?

If you’d like to join us, please do. One caveat: you must be a member of Inside the League. Register here. We’ll also review everything we hear tonight and lead off the Friday Wrap with it. Register for the Wrap here. See you tonight.

Ask the Scouts: Who Helps the Most on the College Level?

If you read this blog regularly, hopefully, you read our newsletter, the Friday Wrap, semi-regularly, as well. Last week’s edition was one of our most popular of the year as we asked NFL scouts to tell us which schools’ pro liaisons — the official who most often interfaces with evaluators to discuss players — were the best at their jobs. If you missed it, you can get caught up here.

The truth is, we got a lot more responses than we could possibly fit into one newsletter. We got a lot of names-but-no-comments responses, and we got some scouts who were absolutely effusive about pro liaisons that no one else mentioned. We even had some who expanded the question and gave us feedback on helpful people who didn’t hold the “pro liaison” title. It was all too much to just dismiss.

As a result, we’ve complied everything that wouldn’t fit into Friday’s edition, and we present it here. We’ve tried to organize it in a comprehensive way, but may have failed, as responses were all over the map.

Here goes.

Top pro liaisons who just missed the mark last Friday, with comments (presented alphabetically):

  • Scott Aligo, Kansas — “The king of the portal . . . he is the best host and he is a superstar. . . He competes to give scouts the best access in the country. He is smart, welcoming and a genius football evaluator. Kansas is home, and he might be the best in the country at what he does. The most unique and best liaison for a long long time.”
  • Tyler Barnes, Iowa — “Among those liaisons who are working at programs that weren’t so good to scouts before they took over as liaisons, and (who) are now great visits for us and do what they can to allow us to do our best work.”
  • Brendt Bedsole, Auburn — “The Southeast is loaded with liaisons who do a great job. There are so many who help us and put in a ton of time to communicate with us and help their players, but if I had to pick one liaison who’s gone above and beyond this year, it’s Brendt.”
  • Ricky Ciccone, Toledo — “Very accommodating, very welcoming, very thorough, very knowledgeable.”
  • Jason Cvercko, Boise State — “One of the best for a long time, knows the players and also good at the evaluation part of it. Was previously at Washington State and Hawaii before Boise and did awesome at those places, too.”
  • Nate Dennison, Purdue — “Just wide open. It’s almost as if they drop whatever they are doing to aid. Last-minute visit when someone else changes a schedule, and Purdue is like, ‘sure, come on in.’ They got the schedule lined up for (us). Gives access, honest about their players and (isn’t) ’t trying to sell. They have realistic views, which isn’t always easy when you love your own, which is appreciated.”
  • Ean Deno, North Dakota St. — “Very good communicator and follows up with info after visits. Organized visit schedule and knows what you’re looking for.”
  • Matt Doherty, Arizona — “Very informative and knows the players.”
  • Darby Dunnagan, Northwestern — “Highly organized, detailed, and facilitates a very efficient visit.”
  • Taylor Edwards, South Carolina — “Understands what we are looking for on the visit. Always communicating and is organized in his approach.”
  • Lucas Gauthier, Colorado State — “Good info pocket, access to coaches.”
  • Marcus Hendrickson, Minnesota – “Another great one. Very accommodating and willing to do anything to promote his players! As organized as there is!!”
  • Aaron Hillman, Iowa State — “Really good player info, access to coaches.”
  • Chad Klunder, Duke — “Duke always had three players on both sides of the ball who couldn’t play anywhere but Duke. He shored up the Duke roster and found players who are more rugged and more competitive. . . He provides us with all information, great access, and a flip card for practice.”
  • Aaron Knotts, Washington — “He is very accommodating and does a great job setting up appointments with coaches and making sure you are able to meet with everybody that you need to on the visit.”
  • Justin Kramer, Washington State: Great information, access to coaches.
  • Marshall Malchow, Oregon — He is always organized, up front and honest with scouts. Makes visits efficient and gets us in front of whomever we need to talk to.
  • Darrell Moody, North Carolina — “Is one of us, and he makes Mack Brown’s (team) more open and more welcoming.”
  • Jay Perry along with Brittany Thackery, Mississippi State — “They are an awesome duo. First, they make the visit special with the access to film and how accommodating they are. It’s not always fun being in ‘Stark Vegas,’ but they make it worthwhile because they are super-honest in their evaluation of the person and growth potential. They know the families in and out and really give good insight on how we can help them, moving forward.”
  • Justin Speros, Virginia (formerly South Florida and Western Carolina) — “Is always honest and digs up any information that we need in a timely manner.”
  • Bob Welton, Alabama — “Gets it. One of the, if not the, top visits in the country.
  • Matt Wilson, Arkansas St. — “Matt is very well-versed on all dealings of the program. He gives really good information and makes sure all visits are very organized.”
  • Roy Witke, Syracuse — “I respect him so much for . . .  his history as a coach.  But has super great insight and is still sharp as a tack. He knows the kids, (and) he’ll point you in the right direction for the questions you should ask (if you’re new to him). Always accommodating.”

Others who received a mention: Chandler Arbizzani, Montana St.; Michael Doctor, Oregon St.; Billy High, Tennessee; Mike Pechac, Indiana; Landon Salem, Memphis; and Troy Wingerter, La.-Lafayette.

 

Others offered unsolicited comment on school officials who excel.

GUYS WE MISS: One scout offered an extensive list of not only the liaisons that excel, but those who are no longer working with scouts for various reasons. They include:

  • Gone for the NFL: Wake Forest’s Taylor Redd (Patriots) and Charlotte’s Carter Crutchfield (Rams).
  • On the move: Duke’s Jim Collins, who left for the AAF and then Elon; Matt Lindsey, who left Ole Miss for Athletes First; and Geoff Martzen, who left Michigan State for private business. Also, John Srofe (Richmond to Appalachian State) and Patrick Hickman (Virginia to BYU) have taken on new roles in new places.
  • Retired: South Carolina State’s Gerald Harrison and Liberty’s Paul Rutigliano.
  • Passed away: Texas A&M’s Gary Reynolds and Texas Tech’s Tommy McVay.

And finally:

STRENGTH COACHES, ETC.: Pro liaisons aren’t the only ones scouts come in contact with, and strength coaches are especially in demand. Here are a few comments on the best ones.

  • David Feeley, Duke — “One of the most honest strength coaches with scouts.  Great charisma. He also maximizes players’ potential in the weight room.”
  • Kevin Glover, Maryland — “Is a mentor. Coaches the coaches on how to  coach hard and coaches the players on how to accept constructive criticism.”
  • Brandon Hourgan, Vanderbilt — “A great, goal-oriented strength coach. He started giving us the numbers and pictures over a player’s freshman to senior seasons, with numbers for every calendar year, almost a decade ago when he was at Wake. . . We (get to) see a body change over time. We see strength numbers, test numbers, body fat percentage numbers change. No hiding bad test numbers or bad pictures. He provides an open book, a true portfolio of what his players have accomplished. Accountability attained!”
  • Woody McCorvey, Clemson — “Coaches the players at Clemson to accept hard coaching. He is an excellent resource if he allows you schedule a one-on-one visit with him.”
  • Chad Scott, Coastal Carolina — “A young star. He built a weight room at Charleston Southern. He built the credibility between the players and staff at Coastal. Unsung hero who speaks truth, has morality, and is a great role model. Motivates players in an impressive manner.”
  • John Williams, East Carolina — “Mentors individual players who are very difficult to reach. He is a life coach and a strength coach.”

If you missed last week’s Friday Wrap, make sure not to miss this week’s by registering here.

Rookie Agent Zoom II: How Do You Gather Info on NFL Prospects?

Last night, we had our second Zoom session aimed directly at those new contract advisors who passed this summer’s exam. Representing players is an incredibly tough job, and there are a lot of twists and turns involved with building a true NFL agent practice. We used to have a newsletter series that addressed these topics, but we’ve found that actually gathering with our clients on Zoom is much more effective.

It’s our second session for the 2022 NFL agent class. Earlier this month, Octagon Football’s Murphy McGuire joined us to discuss his rookie struggles that have led to big success in a short time. We don’t tape these sessions, but we did tape his “origin story.” Check it out here.

Last night, we discussed five weighty topics: taking unsolicited phone calls (which is a common occurrence when your cell phone is posted on the NFLPA website); who to sign (and who not to sign); the XFL and the USFL; how to handle the NIL era; and how to gather information on prospects you may sign. Here’s a quick overview on information-gathering, which is one of the toughest areas to tackle for new player reps.

GATHERING INFO ON PROSPECTS

  • You probably have your favorite draft pundits; forget about them. You’ll be recruiting from a specific subset of the draft class, at least to start. Todd McShay, Dane Brugler, Matt Miller, et al, will not be focused on the players you will potentially sign in your first year (and maybe not your first five years). This is why you probably won’t have a lot of luck if you rely on the Internet to figure out who you’re going to sign. 
  • You will need to develop your eye for talent. Gathering insights from NFL scouts is very helpful, but scouts can only offer their opinions, and they aren’t always right, anyway. At some point, you will have to trust your own instincts, and getting that right (or wrong) will do more to sharpen your skills than anything else. For me, it took about three years of intense film-watching to really get a feel for what NFL teams seek in draft prospects.
  • You won’t have a decent scouting network until . . . . you have a client that NFL teams want to draft or sign. It’s simple. No amount of networking, connecting on LinkedIn, emailing or anything else will build scouting friendships that bear fruit. Scouts will not have much time for you until you have shown you represent legitimate prospects.
  • Your “eye” will matter more than scouts anyway. The firms that regularly sign Day 3/UDFA players who make rosters are, more often than not, dependent on their own evaluation than scouts’ evaluations. It’s probably smarter to use NFL scouts to supplement your own opinion rather than expecting them to generate a list of players you should recruit. 
  • Make sure to take advantage of our services. The ITL Profile Reports give you a brief look at the top 10 NFL prospects on every FBS team. Before you sign a player, make sure he’s a guy we see as draftable (or at least signable) player first. All ITL clients have full access to our Profile Reports. To get an even better look, order one of our ITL Scouting Reports. For $100 plus tax, we can get a report done in 24-48 hours. We’ve got the tape; all we need is a name, position and school. 
  • The bottom line is that you have to spend a little to make a little. Be smart about the money you spend (I realize you just spent $5,000 to pass the exam and get registered), but be willing to spend money.

For more details on the business of the game and how to succeed in it, make sure you’re reading our newsletter, the Friday Wrap. You can register for it here.

2022 NFLPA Class: A Chance to Learn

In October, the new agent class finally gets to go to work. Trying to figure out what that looks like is the hard part. The biggest question I get this time of year is, where do I start?

We’re going to answer that question in our second Zoom of the year aimed directly at new contract advisors. It’s set for next Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 8 p.m. ET. Here’s what we’ll cover.

  • New agents are going to get carpet-bombed by players from previous draft classes. Some of them are legit, having gone to recent NFL camps. We’ll discuss the question of whether to sign them.
  • If you’re a newly certified contract advisor, you’ve probably dreamed of signing a first-rounder right out of the box, beating the odds and signing that kid that comes out of nowhere. We’ll talk about why it’s smart to temper your expectations, and what kinds of players are most often signed by new agents.
  • As a new agent, you probably already have your favorite mock draft experts and sources all over the web. However, as a rookie, we’ll talk about why you probably need to look at other sources, and we’ll discuss where you can find them. 
  • You probably have a lot of questions about the XFL and the USFL, and it’s good that you’re asking them. Still, do those leagues require registration/certification? Also, what does the draft look like, and more importantly, how are players evaluated and signed? We’ll cover talent acquisition in both leagues, who you need to talk to, and how to talk to them (I should mention that the XFL’s Doug Whaley will be joining us on Zoom next month to answer many of those questions).
  • The topic of NIL may be overwhelming you. You might say to yourself, ‘I’m just trying to figure out how to be an NFL agent and now I have to figure out NIL as well?’ We’ll simplify things with our recommendations on a basic strategy for Year 1.

We kicked off our series the first week of October with Octagon Football’s Murphy McGuire. You can check out his “origin story” here, and if you’re a new agent, you should. You’ll find it inspiring, I think. His rookie year he was the only first-year independent agent to have a player drafted (Texas Tech’s Jakeem Grant, who went 6/186 in 2016), and in less than five years, he was hired by one of the more established firms in the industry. 

Want in? We look forward to you joining us next week. It’s free, but there’s one caveat: you must be an Inside the League client. It’s just $29.95/mo, and you can cancel at any time. Once you become a member, you can join us for our monthly Zoom sessions that will cover other key agent-related topics like all-star games, how to choose a trainer, how to recruit, how to build a network of scouts, what you can gain from going to the combine and many more topics. Sign up here.

I hope to see you next week. For more details, sign up for our Friday Wrap, which is also free. Do that here

 

NIL Zoom Class: Highlights from Session III

Last night was Session III of our NIL Zoom class with marketing and endorsement expert Sammy Spina of Vantage Management Group. We brought you several highlights from Sammy’s first session last week, but there’s far more where that came from. 

Last night, Sammy went into depth on contracts and agreements, both between the agent and his client and the client and a potential business seeking to engage him. Here are a few valuable points he made.

  • When it comes to setting up an agreement with your first NIL client, don’t overcomplicate it. I see a lot of fear from agents on this, but it’s probably not necessary as long as you’re careful.
  • It’s not a bad idea to send your agreement to the compliance department at the player’s school. It may save you trouble down the line.
  • Consider not signing players to exclusive deals. It helps the client understand that your relationship is not built on a contract, but on how productive you can be for him.
  • Make sure it’s clear with your client (and anyone else who reads the contract) this is an NIL agreement only, not an NFL representation agreement. Seems pretty elementary, but it might help to reaffirm the boundaries of the deal.
  • Some agencies charge 30 percent on their deals, but it’s a good idea to stay between 10-20 percent commission. Fifteen percent is common.
  • Most local companies in college markets don’t do a lot of endorsements and marketing, so make sure you have an agreement ready to help walk them through the process. This stuff is new; make sure you’re willing to be the guide.
  • Make sure you’re putting limitations on how long an establishment can use a player’s name, image and likeness. Remember, your client’s NIL has value. Don’t give it away indefinitely.
  • Make sure the company understands in advance if the school doesn’t allow the player to use the school logo/marks. You don’t want a disappointed franchise owner once the appearance takes place or the post comes out.
  • Remember: Collectives may seem closely associated with a school, but they have no official relationship with a school. It’s an important distinction.
  • The vast majority of athletes are entering into deals for $5,000 or less, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your client. Also, don’t believe everything you hear or see on the Internet.

There’s still one more night (tonight — the session kicks off at 8 p.m. ET), so if you’re interested in NIL, please join us. You can sign up here. Don’t forget, you get the videos from all four sessions as part of the price ($100 plus tax). I hope you can join us.

NIL Zoom Class: A Few Highlights from Session I

Last night, we kicked off our deep dive into the more detailed aspects of building a name, image and likeness practice. To do that, we brought on Vantage Management Group’s Sammy Spina, who’s built a thriving marketing and endorsements practice in addition to his NFL agent business. From the first minute, Sammy was straight “fire,” as the kids say. We’ve gotten good feedback from those who signed up.

Here are a few highlights (and keep in mind, this all came from the first class, with three to go).

  • If you don’t have contacts, you better have time. This one is pretty self-explanatory. 
  • Recruiting relationships are like real relationships – at some point, there has to be face-to-face contact. Managing the time you spend in your client’s town vs. where you live/office is part of what Sammy discussed Tuesday night. 
  • Look up the players on a school’s roster and research social media followings. If a player already has 10,000 followers, it gives you something to sell to local businesses. This one is also pretty self-explanatory. The trick is, these are often the biggest and best players. Maybe you can find a diamond in the rough, however, if you do a little research.
  • When you attend your client’s appearance, you tend to meet other people who want to make deals. That’s why it’s important to start locally. This is an easy way to prospect, which is the hardest part of any business.
  • Get to Indy. It’s crucial from a networking standpoint. Also pretty self-explanatory. I would previously have recommended the Senior Bowl over the combine, but access in Mobile has been drastically reduced in recent years. Access was always a little restricted at the combine, but the overwhelming number of people connected with the game gives Indy the nod.
  • It’s not about who you know. It’s about who knows you. I thought this was a great way to explain the value of always being on offense when it comes to meeting people and introducing yourself to strangers. 
  • A player’s foundation is a great way to meet business owners and people interested in being around the game. If you’re on the younger side, volunteer. If you’re a little more established, make a donation. But whatever you do, get there, and once you get there, meet as many people as you can. 
  • Be responsive. Be a 24-7 communicator. Fifty calls plus a couple Zooms in one day is not unusual. Fifty! I would add that maybe those 50 calls are 30 texts, 15 DMs and five calls, but you get the picture. You must be responsive.
  • Let being told “no” motivate you. Find a competitor to that company who will say “yes.” Nothing wrong with drawing motivation from such a situation. 
  • At some point, company CEOs have money, fame and success. But they don’t have access. Your client can provide them something they can’t get anywhere else.
  • If you can help it, never schedule an event or appearance the night before a game or the night after a loss. Obviously, this can be tricky, but be sensitive to the game schedule and other external factors. 

Want in? Remember, there are still three sessions of one hour left (and last night’s session went 90 minutes, so you won’t get cheated), and the topics for the remaining classes are making your campaigns memorable, what to look for in agreements and building a sustainable business on NIL alone. We’ll meet tonight at 8 p.m. ET, then again Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, same time. And don’t forget, everyone who registers gets videos for all four sessions. I don’t know anyone else who is doing this with a person of Sammy’s caliber, especially for $100 plus tax. 

Consider joining us. You won’t regret it. 

 

Our First Zoom Guest for New Agents: Octagon’s Murphy McGuire

Sometime in the summer of 2013, when my wife was working for our church, she mentioned that she had met a kid who wanted to meet me. He found out what I did and wanted to learn more. She said she thought he was interested in being an agent. I think I rolled my eyes. A lot of people think I have a really cool job until they find out how mundane most of my work is. Murphy stuck around, however, and worked as an intern at ITL for 2-3 years until he graduated from law school.

Most of my interns get the passion for working in football burned out of them, so when Murphy told me he was gonna take the NFL agent exam in the summer of 2015, I was surprised, and a little pissed. Have you not been paying attention, I thought? Do you not understand the futility of working as a small, independent NFL agent? The costs involved? The years of frustration? The potential for wasted money and time? Still, despite my urgings, he took and passed the NFLPA exam on the first try. It’s worth noting that 2015 was the year the NFLPA sharply increased the difficulty of the test, but Murphy still passed on his first try. 

He has surprised me several times since. He was the only independent rookie agent to have a player drafted in his first year (Texas Tech’s Jakeem Grant, who went 6/186 to the Dolphins in 2016 and remains active with the Bears today). He even starred in a reality TV series on the NFL Network that year (Murphy is in the first frame, wearing a ball cap, in this video). He also made the leap to a major agency (Octagon Football) just 2-3 years after getting certified, and today, less than 10 years after getting certified, he’s tied for No. 59 among all active NFL agents with 16 clients in the league. That may not sound like much, but it’s pretty impressive for someone who was told he “looks like some young kid” when he solicited a major agent at a top firm about a job at his first Senior Bowl in 2014, I think. 

Anyway, I say all this because Murphy will be my guest Thursday, Oct. 6, at 8 p.m. ET, as we host our first monthly Zoom sessions for members of the 2022 NFL agent class. It’s something we started last year, and I found that getting rookie contract advisors on Zoom to ask questions of someone who was once in their shoes is a great way to learn. I’ll make a few brief points, then we’ll get on with the interview. Here are a few things I’ll ask him about:

  • How long did it take him to build a network of scouts willing to talk to him?
  • How did he build that network?
  • How did he choose Jakeem as his first client? What did he tell him so Jakeem would take a chance on a rookie agent? 
  • How did he handle training costs, etc., in his early, independent days?
  • How did he latch on with an established agency so quickly? 
  • How has the industry changed, and what’s the biggest challenge he faces now? 
  • How have the players changed? 
  • What would be his advice for agents getting started today? 

Bottom line, this is your chance to get the keys to the kingdom from a real NFL agent success story, straight from the horse’s mouth.

If you’re interested in joining us, you’re welcome to, even if you’re just curious and not  even a contract advisor. However, there’s one catch: you have to be an ITL client. You can register here. It’s $29.95/mo, and you can cancel at any time.

I hope to see you in a week. In the meantime, get more scoop about the football business by registering for our weekly newsletter, the Friday Wrap. Do that here.

Our Next NIL Learning Opportunity: Questions and the Answers We’ll Be Seeking

On Aug. 30, we had two name, image and likeness experts, Peter Schoenthal of Athliance and Sammy Spina of Vantage Management Group, join us on Zoom to give a thorough overview of today’s NIL landscape. Anyone interested in how to make money in the interest got an awful lot of information on how to approach this new area of the industry. However, we’re not done.

Next month, Sammy will join us again for a four-class course on how to break through and turn NIL from a theoretical financial windfall to a legitimate, steady revenue source. Our classes will be Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 4-5, and the following Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 11-12. Cost is $100 plus tax (sign up here). There’s a trick to it, obviously, and it all starts with getting honest questions answered. 

When it comes to those questions, I’m interested in two things: how an agent identifies and recruits a player ideal for NIL marketing, and how an agent finds business opportunities for the client. We touched on that in our Zoom last month, but this is going to be a real close-up look on how to make money.

Here are some of the questions I’m seeking to get answered:

  • How long does it take to build a book of contacts, a network I can rely on?
  • How long will it take to make money while I build that network?
  • What kind of businesses most often seek lasting relationships? 
  • What is the key to a successful media post? How can I measure and repeat that success?
  • How do you turn a successful solicitation into repeat business with multiple clients?
  • How do you assess your client to find out how to best position him for NIL success?
  • What do you tell a client who wants to know how long it will take to make money with NIL?
  • How do you explain to a client that success will require effort on his part, i.e., that NIL isn’t a completely passive revenue stream?
  • When do you “cut bait” with a client? When do you know he’s not a good fit for NIL?
  • What’s the best ratio of success on the field and NIL aptitude? Can you succeed if a client has only one of the two?
  • How much time and effort should a client be expected to give away for free before he can start charging? How does he best spend that time?
  • What happens if you build a book of business in one area, then your client enters the transfer portal?
  • How do you exploit a client’s potential as an anti-hero in a rival market? Is it possible?
  • What does a basic NIL agreement between an agent and client look like? What does an agreement between a client and a business look like?

If you have the same questions, I hope you can join us. Nothing will be out of bounds, and we want this to be a real difference-making session.

We’ll have more details in our Friday Wrap, which comes out later today. Register for the Wrap here.