Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: Mark Your Calendar for These Events

Here at Succeed In Football, our focus is on helping you advance in the sports industry by keeping you up to date with the latest tech trends and news. Today, we highlight a few upcoming sports tech events around the country that offer up a tremendous amount of cutting-edge value.

49ers/SportTechie NEXT at Levi Stadium — Bay Area, CA  (June 6-7): The San Francisco 49ers and SportTechie are teaming up to present an excellent sports business, technology and analytics conference. The conference brings together executives and thought leaders to discuss and present the most important trends and events shaping the industry. The Horizon Summit provides a platform for leagues, teams, corporate partners, vendors, innovators and investors to come together to share ideas, experiences and outlooks. By encouraging learning across key themes and trends, they ensure you will remain at the forefront of your industry and be prepared for what is approaching on the horizon. Tickets are expected to sell out, but you can reserve a spot here.

LiveWorx19 in Boston (June 10-13): This four-day event features keynote speakers from various industries but football tech junkies will be interested to know that Michelle McKenna, the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of the NFL, will be speaking June 12. McKenna, who oversees the organization’s technology strategy and shared service delivery, will discuss how she is “quarterbacking” a digital revolution for the NFL with an “augmented workforce.” McKenna will also introduce a new set of technological capabilities that integrate with human skills and expertise on how to enable workers to become “human+” in order to help organizations thrive. Over 2,000 companies, 9,500-plus attendees and 500-plus speakers are scheduled to appear at LiveWorx. For more information on this event, visit here.

Sports Techie & NFLPA – Accelerating Change: Sports Tech & Innovation in Washington, D.C. (July 16): During MLB All-Star Week in Washington, D.C., the NFL Players Association and SportTechie present an exclusive, invitation-only event that brings together sports industry executives and thought leaders for an evening of discussion on sports technology and innovation. Spots are limited to this invite-only event. For more information on how to register, visit the website.

Sports Video Group (SVG) OTT Forum in New York City (July 25): Over-the-top distribution and direct-to-consumer live-streaming packages are poised to dramatically change the world of live sports video. While the entire media ecosystem is approaching this new era of consumer behavior, the sports media industry faces its own unique set of challenges and opportunities. SVG will have its second-annual SVG Sports OTT Forum to be held July 25 at NYIT in New York City. To register for this event, click here.

Remember, there are numerous ways to advance your career in the sports industry, which include adapting to new technology, learning innovative strategies and expanding your network. The aforementioned events will help you achieve all of those.

And don’t forget! If you aspire to work in football and are looking for an edge, subscribe to our premium insider content at Inside the League at $30/mo, or sign up for our free weekly look at what’s happening in the college and pro football industry, the Friday Wrap, here. You can read last week’s edition here.

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Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: Madden Heralds eSport Arrival

Each week Ric Serritella provides a glimpse into the latest trends and topics in sports technology, with a look at how they are impacting the football industry. 

Want to work in football, but you’re having trouble breaking into the biz? Maybe you’re a video game aficionado? Well, the E-sports Generation has arrived and may have a place for you.

The eSports business is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, and it has now officially penetrated the NFL market due to the popularity of Madden Football.

In a recent press release, EA Sports announced that Madden NFL 19 Bowl smashed all previous viewing records, generating 2.5 million views (an 850% increase from last year) on its video stream, hosted by Twitch. In addition, 805,000 people tuned in to watch the one-hour special championship game broadcast on ESPN2. Combined, the two broadcasts averaged 208,000 viewers per minute during the final hour. These are staggering numbers.

The Madden NFL 19 Bowl winner, Drini Gjoka, has now earned nearly $200,000 in career winnings from playing Madden. Not bad for a day job. With the recent boom in interest, you can be sure that new content, sponsors and jobs are on the way. However, this is just the beginning for the eSports platform, which is still in its infancy and has yet to even begin to scratch the surface of its revenue potential.

In other Madden-related news, EA wasted little time capitalizing on the mania by announcing its weekly Madden 20 live-stream and blog. Career mode now features the “Face of the Franchise: QB1 Career Campaign.”

It sounds like a Madden lifer’s dream come true as users create themselves as a quarterback (including face editing) and begin their career at the college ranks. They then go on to choose a school and try to lead a team to a national championship. Once college wraps up, it’s time for the draft process as the user-generated quarterbacks then compete in the combine. How well a player performs dictates draft status.

It’s a long way from our recollection of the original Madden Football, as the brand has become much larger than anyone could’ve possibly imagined.

Kyler Has New Teammate in LeBron: In other video news to emerge from draft week, it was announced that No.1 overall selection Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals has inked a two-year partnership with Uninterrupted, the media production owned by LeBron James. The deal includes Murray providing access for videos to be posted on social media and a feature-length documentary.

“As thrilling as it is to be beginning my career as a NFL player, I also want to be an example early on for all athletes and show that our value extends beyond the field of play,” Murray said in a statement. “Uninterrupted is changing the culture for athletes in our society by empowering them to be more than an athlete.” You can learn more about the project here.

*Do you work in football and want to be in the know? Visit our premium site at InsideTheLeague.comand get an edge on the competition with our insider news and analysis!

 

 

Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: Tech Takes Fans Inside NFL War Rooms

From high-fives to excited chatter to intense silence, the atmosphere inside war rooms around the league varies from team-to-team over NFL Draft weekend. As fans satisfy their passion with fantasy football, interactive leagues and innovative stadiums, there’s one fence left to scale: access to the decision-makers as they make the decisions.

Slowly, even that wall is coming down. Due to the evolution of video cameras, smart phones and live-stream technology, television broadcasts are able to capture unique sports moments like we’ve never seen before, and the curious fan can now relive some of the draft’s biggest moments. Here are some of the cooler portals to insider-level draft coverage floating around the internet.

  • With The Next Pick: This five-part docu-series takes you on the road with the Indianapolis Colts leading up to the draft. However, the most riveting part is Episode 5, which features the team’s braintrust making its three second-round selections. Fans watch as the team’s staff members realize Stanford linebacker Bobby Okereke is still on the board, and their excitement as they prepare to select him. Getting a chance to see NFL executives react this way is rare and refreshing. You can watch it here. Also, in case you missed it, the Colts were recently presented the 2018 Inside The League Best Draft Award.
  • Different team, different view: On the opposite end of the spectrum are the New England Patriots, who were clearly all business inside their war room. This clip posted by the team on YouTube provides a glimpse into how the Patriots operate. There was little excitement amongst the staff as head coach Bill Belichick placed the call to Michigan edge rusher Chase Winovich letting him know that the team would take him in the third round. You can almost envision Belichick after the call as he icily moved on to the next pick. It’s an interesting contrast with the Colts.
  • A View of the Big Blue: The Giants once again provided fans with an inside look at the draft process as they provided on-camera access to key decision-makers at the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine and inside team headquarters for the draft. You can now re-live the moments that may ring in a new era at the Meadowlands here.

For more insight on the business of football, including key trends in the agent and scouting industry as well as ways to break into the football business, visit Inside the League.

Kinda limited on your budget? No problem. Sign up for our weekly newsletter, the Friday Wrap, where we hit the highlights and take a unique look at the 2019 NFL Draft. You can register here. You can check out last week’s edition of the Friday Wrap here.

Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: Investing in Innovation

Though it’s draft weekend, there’s plenty of football business being conducted in places other than Nashville. Here’s a look at what’s going on in the modern game, courtesy of the Football Tech guy, Ric Serritella of NFL Draft Bible.

Bills buff up their facility: Buffalo signed nearly 20 free agents during the offseason, including one of the top centers in the league in Mitch Morse, one of the top deep threats on the market in WO John Brown, and a possible future Hall of Famer in running back Frank Gore. Why such an uptick?

One reason the team believes it has been able to attract top free agents is its sparkling new, state-of-the-art, training facility, which spans 41,000 square feet. It’s more than double the size of their old practice facility (18,000 square feet).

“Buffalo (expletives) on Dallas,” tweeted newly signed free agent WO Cole Beasley on his Twitter account, which has since been deleted. “Facilities for recovery and training are top notch!”

If you’re wondering what makes the facility so special, you probably guessed it: technology. Individualized player care is viewed as an important factor by many players when signing with a new team. After conducting expanded research on the best methods, Buffalo has enhanced its sports science and medical department, which team officials believe is tops in the league.

Designed by Populous, a worldwide architectural design company, the building includes luxurious features such as sleep pods, float tanks, a yoga studio, and massage rooms, according to bdcnetwork.com.

“I think it’s a game-changer for us,” General Manager Brandon Beane told The Buffalo News. “This is the one thing that we didn’t have that was top-level, and we went from probably below-average to the best — I think clearly the best.”

As more teams look to recruit big-name free agents who hit the market, look for many to follow suit by upgrading their training facilities.

Seahawks simplify CenturyLink sales: From training facilities to in-game stadium experiences, the Seattle Seahawks have been at the forefront of biometric technology. When NFL attendance dipped from 17.8 million in 2016 to 17.2 million in 2017, Seattle wanted to create ways to enhance the game-day experience for fans and make attending a game a much smoother process.

With the emergence of bigger and better flat-screen TVs, the popularity of social media and the increase of access to games streamed online, it has become increasingly challenging to give fans reason to come out to the stadium. Last season, the Seahawks became the first NFL franchise to employ biometric solutions.

The technology allows for an easier, faster check-in process getting through the gates when arriving to the stadium due to their ability to authenticate tickets. Lines at the beer concessions have sped up, as they can quickly verify a person’s age and get fans back to their seat faster so they don’t miss much of the game action. While CenturyLink Field was the first venue to adopt such technology, other stadiums have already followed suit, and in a few years, this will likely be standard procedure in venues across America.

For more news and current events across the football landscape, be sure to join Inside The League, the premier online destination for NFL agent and football insider information!

 

Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: How Tech Streamlines Scouting

As NFL evaluation progresses and all 32 teams leave no stone unturned, one team that has seen an increased reliance on technology and analytics is the Redskins, who have incorporated new technology that provides info for the overall scouting process.

At one time, ESPN rated the Redskins as dead last in the NFL in effectiveness and buy-in regarding the team’s use of statistical analysis. “The Redskins were named by source after source as the NFL team with the least interest in using analytics in football operations,” wrote ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. Slowly, however, Washington is ramping up its use of modern techniques.

Redskins Director of Football Strategy Jeff Scott told the team’s website that the scouting staff isn’t “picking anything based on numbers.” Instead, the ‘Skins remain dedicated to trusting their scouts’ eyes rather than a mathematician’s electronic rubric.

“I would never want to make a decision based on numbers,” Scott said. “But to have another tool in your toolbox is always beneficial, and the earlier we can get that going, the better off we are.”

Two companies at the forefront of this movement are XOS Digital and Pro Football Focus (PFF). Both enable teams to sort video cutups on players based on down and distance or certain situations such as third-down pass plays for a quarterback. Less than a decade ago, scouts had to watch entire games to find these exact situations. Today, PFF charts every play for every player. The modern NFL team saves countless hours using these services.

“The numbers just give you some basis,” Scott said in the team’s report. “If I can get certain things or tendencies or pick up on certain things, we can even get that to the coaches and they can incorporate that into their game plans.”

Mike Stoeber is Jacksonville’s Director of Football Systems. Prior to working for the Jags, Stoeber was the Senior Field Support Representative at XOS DigitalOne. He’s very familiar with the NFL’s efforts to catalog every movement of every player on every snap. This past season, the NFL tracked more than 54,000 plays and recorded every tenth of a second for every player movement thanks to RF chips that feature GPS tracking technology.

These RF chips allow teams to track how often a linebacker blitzes on certain down and distance situations, or which wide receiver is likely to be targeted based on specific formations. This data is only shared by the 32 NFL teams, and players do not have access to the information being recorded and stored. Meanwhile, these innovative methods in college and pro scouting are slowly trickling down to college personnel departments.

As the NFL begins to scratch the surface of new technology, data-driven analytics will continue to take up more space in scouting binders around the league. This is good news if you aspire to work in football. Though old-school methods and analytics go hand and hand, you can be sure that more and more teams will be hiring in their analytics department.

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Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: April 6-12

Among topics we regularly discuss in this space are technology issues as they interface with the changing NFL as well as labor issues as they relate to the next collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiation. However, today’s edition of Sports Tech is the first time we’ve addressed the intersection of the two subjects.

Last week, we discussed the value of wearable tracking technology that emerged from the Alliance of American Football (AAF) league. We have since learned that the technology was owned by Legendary Field Exhibitions, which is operated by AAF co-founder Charlie Ebersol.

However, when MGM Resorts International became a major investor, the firm included a provision that would give MGM full ownership rights to the technology, as per this Action Network report. In addition to the technology, MGM also owns rights to the technology’s intellectual property, including trademarks, copyrights, patents, software and firmware.

This is a pretty big deal for a number of reasons. MGM is currently paying tens of millions of dollars to partner with the NBA, NHL and MLB. These deals also include access to data streams. According to Bloomberg, MGM customers will be able to bet on data-driven prop bets such as which NHL player skates the fastest during a game or rip the hardest slap shot as soon as next year. The technology acquired from the AAF deal could open a whole new world of in-game sports betting, including prop bets with odds based on data and analytics.

The rise of wearable technology and data applies to the NFL, as well, but there’s a twist. There is currently no agreement in place between the owners and players related to how this information is allowed to be recorded, stored, shared and used. When the last CBA deal was negotiated in 2011, this type of technology was still in its infancy, and hence, there were no rules or regulations in place. However, in 2018, all 32 NFL teams had access to in-game chip data technology, which provided a snapshot of every player’s location 12 times per second. NFL teams are allowed access to this chip data for use during contract negotiations. However, players do not, unless specifically granted by individual teams.

More importantly, players want to know where this data is being stored, who has access to it, how it may be used and what kind of safeguards are in place to protect this information. Does the NFL truly own this data? The league currently has business partnerships with data-driven technology companies such as Amazon, Sportradar AG and Zebra Technologies.

With access to such data, the NFL could also be in violation of privacy laws, not to mention data protection laws which vary from state to state. Wearable and chip data technology has created a booming new business, but where the legal line will be drawn remains to be seen.

Presumably, the NFLPA will want assurance that legal ramifications are covered, and will ask for ownership of the respective players’ results from new technology, or at least a fee for licensing the data. This could be a major focal point — perhaps even the major focal point — during the upcoming CBA negotiations. Will the Players Association be ready for such “techy” topics? Time will tell.

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Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: How Long Till the NFL Taps the App?

After just 52 days in existence and more than $100 million spent, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) announced it would cease operations on Tuesday.

The decision was made by chairman Tom Dundon, who stepped in to rescue the league after Week 1, feverishly spending about $10 million per week to keep the AAF afloat but soon realizing that his pockets weren’t deep enough to save the startup. Dundon, who also owns the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, was unable to sustain the minor league along with co-founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian. While the AAF is not yet technically “dead,” a plot has been reserved for the league right next to the USFL, XFL 1.0 and UFL.

However, the league still has a chance to have a legacy. Much has been made of the AAF application (“app”), which Ebersol dubbed as “Stats 2.0.” With legalized sports gambling on the horizon and “in-play” wagering seen as the next big coup, MGM was quick to invest in the app. To make it work, the AAF outfitted its players with wearables that could transmit data in real-time. The league’s proprietary software helped create instant odds on whether the next play would be run or pass, the direction of the play, and whether the play would result in a first down or touchdown. At full capacity, users would be awarded points and could advance levels, based on their predictions.

Unfortunately, time ran out on the league and the application. However, it seems inevitable that the collision of football and interactive online participation is a matter of when, not if. Here are a few questions regarding the direction of such technology and the answers, as best we can ascertain.

So what of the app?: Ebersol has previously stated that various investors had bought into the technology, so who actually owns the innovative app still remains somewhat of a mystery publicly. However, the technology behind it is sure to live on and could lead to some very lucrative licensing rights. “You’re talking about tens of millions in points of data that we’ve figured out how to compress and deliver it in real time,” Ebersol said in an interview with USA TODAY earlier this year. “So any industry that needs to take that level of data and then compress it and deliver it instantly can use that application. Obviously, the application out of the gate is the gambling platform, but we’re doing it for a variety of other partners.”

How long until a viable league offers similar technology?: Other startup leagues, from Your Call Football to the Fan Controlled Football League, have tried similar ventures to minimal success. However, the amount of money the NFL could pour into such a venture dwarfs anything an alternative league could do. As the hunger for new ways to enjoy football grows, it’s just a matter of time until the big boy on the football block gives it a shot.

Will the XFL attempt to pick up the tech baton?: Vince McMahon’s league has gone so far as to set up a Reimagination Committee designed to bring innovations to the game,  and it’s got some pretty high-powered members (with Doug Flutie, John Fox and Jim Caldwell among them), but they’re more geared toward speeding up the game and making it more efficient. One source told us the XFL won’t put the cart before the horse when it comes to introducing technological advances. “At some point we will (have an app),” we were told, “but we will only launch it  when it is right.”

Still interested in the end of the AAF and what it means, especially to people who work in the game? Check out today’s Friday Wrap, in which we talk to several scouts and administrators who got pink slips this week. What did they think about the league, their co-workers, and management? Would they do it all again?

As always, the Friday Wrap is free, and you can register for it here. Join the thousands of members of the football business community who read it regularly. Check out last week’s edition here.

Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: March 23-29

In 2017, Ric Serritella of NFL Draft Bible wrote a series on emerging technology in NFL and college football circles. We found it very illuminating and learned plenty, and we know we weren’t alone. Now that he’s finished his service’s draft guide for 2019 – and for $10, it’s a bargain and something we encourage you to check out — we asked him to continue his series. Enjoy.

Cell blocks: When isn’t it appropriate to check your phone these days? Well, welcome to the modern-day NFL, which now features “phone breaks,” courtesy of Kliff Kingsbury. The Arizona Cardinals’ new 39-year-old head coach said that the time for “cell phone breaks” has come at the annual NFL league meetings this week. “Twenty minutes at a time,” he said in this report. “Give them a break and get them back in. You start to see kind of hands twitching and legs shaking, and you know they need to get that social media fix. So, we’ll let them hop over there and then get back in the meeting and refocus.” Apparently, he brought this over with him from his time at Texas Tech, where he went 35-40 in six seasons. Is this the beginning of a new trend or a fad from the college ranks that will surely be frowned upon amongst more traditional coaches? Only time will tell, but it’ll be interesting to monitor.

Sunday Ticket termination?: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told Bloomberg that the league is exploring its options for the NFL Sunday Ticket package, currently carried by DIRECTV. AT&T-owned DIRECTV pays the NFL $1.5 billion per year for the exclusive rights to Sunday Ticket, but the NFL could opt out of that agreement after next season. “We’ve had a 25-year partnership and we want to continue that partnership, but we also are looking to see how we can change the delivery,” Goodell said. “We want it delivered on several different platforms.”

Sherman becomes SportsCastr: SportsCastr, the live-streaming company that lets anyone become a live color commentator, announced 49ers DC Richard Sherman has joined the company as its first Brand Ambassador. SportsCastr is a real-time live-streaming app that lets anyone become a color commentator, and enables viewers to select which sportscaster they wish to have call, recap, or make predictions on a game. SportsCastr is currently in public beta, and is available for free on the App Store. “I was drawn to SportsCastr because its technology really has the potential to change the way athletes engage with their fans, and the way fans connect with their favorite players,” Sherman said. “I’m excited to start using SportsCastr to share exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ content, and to help the company reach a broader audience.” Sherman’s first SportsCastr stream will be shared later this month at www.sportscastr.com/richardsherman.

CFL footballs get ‘smart:’ Three QBs in this weekend’s Canadian Football League combine will be using the X-Pro Connected Football designed by Wilson Sporting Goods. These footballs will utilize an undetectable sensor to measure quarterback performance in the areas of throw quality and play timing. The data points that teams will be able to see include snap to release, snap to target and release time, along with spin rate, spiral efficiency, and throw count and velocity. “In essence, we are replacing what we’ve relied on for years—the “eye test”—with quantifiable facts on a player’s ball speed, spin rate, launch angle, timing and much more,” said Kevin Murphy, General Manager at Wilson Sporting Goods.

Check back next week for the latest tech trends and happening occurring across the football landscape. For more industry insider news and info, be sure to visit Inside the League.

Breaking Down the NFLPA’s Agent Issues

Since last weekend, when the NFLPA sent out a rather inflammatory memorandum, there’s been some interest (and confusion) regarding issues between contract advisors and the union. While this is about 10,000 miles from most fans’ interest, if you read this blog, it may be something that’s crossed your mind. Here’s a super-brief look at what’s going on so you can speak intelligently about it in your next sports management class.

  • The owners entered the last CBA negotiation in 2011 with really one goal: end the practice of handing out monumental signing bonuses to first-round picks. While we won’t go into how and why it happened, all agree that the owners got a decisive win. The new CBA basically developed a slotting system for all draft picks. Obviously, this reduced the value of a skilled negotiator when it came to rookie contracts.
  • Slowly, agents figured out that the real (only?) money in the agent business was in second deals, which weren’t similarly restricted. This was happening as combine trainers were becoming an established part of the pre-draft process. Slowly, an arms race started as bigger and more extensive training became a key carrot in the recruiting process.
  • Soon, training wasn’t enough. Agencies started handing out no-interest loans and lines of credit. They began writing per diem checks of hundreds of dollars per month; today, agents typically pay players projected in the first 100 picks about $5,000/month, January to April. Then there were marketing guarantees – cash advances paid against an agent’s ability to find a prospect endorsements, signing deals, apparel, etc. – and finally, signing bonuses, which are pretty much self-explanatory. Today, the total package a potential first-round pick gets from an agency can exceed $100,000 before draft day.
  • Depending on who you ask, either the NFLPA tried to regulate things but failed, or the NFLPA sided with the firms that could write the big checks and took a laissez-faire approach. In defense of the NFLPA, trying to referee the agent recruiting market, which is incredibly nuanced and operates in the shadows, is almost a hopeless case.
  • As big firms swallowed up the top prospects, rank-and-file agencies began to fight back. About a year ago, Denver-based agent Peter Schaffer of Authentic Athletix (he was one of the four contract advisors featured in the Esquire Network’s docu-series The Agent in 2015) began rallying all certified player reps (there are exactly 800 as of today). The idea was to develop broad industry standards. This all culminated in a meeting held in Indianapolis at the combine and hosted by Inside the League, TEST Football Academy and the XFL. You can watch the proceedings here.
  • The NFLPA’s reaction to Schaffer’s efforts could be described as schizophrenic. In its meetings with a select group of agents at the 2018 combine, union officials were ambivalent about agent issues (some even described officials as hostile). As Schaffer continued to grow support and took a high-road approach, union officials were much more accepting at the same meeting this year. The NFLPA even invited six agents to a Board of Player Reps meeting on Monday, April 11, at which they were allowed to state their case before 60 players interested in learning more about the issues.
  • This is where things get confusing. The six representative agents attended the meeting with the goal of explaining their value to the game, presenting ideas on how players could sustain themselves during a potential work stoppage, and above all establishing a spirit of collaboration. Unfortunately, that tone was lost as a handful of players took issue with their presentation. The upshot was that the NFLPA sent out a memo last Friday with a sharply negative feel, even taking a swipe at the six agents who took time out of their schedules – amidst pro days, no less – and traveled to the meetings on their own dime.
  • Furthering the contradictory messages from the NFLPA, this week the union asked agents to help them edit and improve a work stoppage guide that was disseminated to players in advance of the 2011 CBA negotiation.

Naturally, this is a very broad, very quick look at the issues as they’ve transpired over the last decade. A more exhaustive look would delve deeper into the haves and have-nots among agencies; the changing attitude of players toward their agents; how the NCAA’s dissolution of its enforcement powers has affected the playing field for agents; the leadership of the NFLPA and its strategy and goals for the next CBA; and dozens of other topics.

As always, we will continue to monitor the industry and hope that peace can be achieved so that America’s favorite game continues without interruption. Fingers crossed.

To learn more about what’s going on in the football business and what’s ahead for people who work in the game, register for the Friday Wrap. It’s the only comprehensive look at what’s going on in the business of the game on the college and pro level that comes out every week, and of course, it’s free.

 

 

 

 

2019 NFL Scouting Salaries: Our Survey Breakdown

This year, like last year, we sent a 13-question survey to active NFL scouts. We asked them several questions about their job, including pay, contracts, pension and other benefits. We also asked about which team they felt had the best draft last year, and we announced those results in Indianapolis.

We’ll break down the info we gathered on salaries, sorted by number of years in the league, in today’s Friday Wrap. Here’s a question-by-question look at the other info we gathered from scouts this year.

  • As of Jan. 1, 2019, how many years have you been a scout, not counting any years spent as a scouting assistant or intern?: We got a pretty homogeneous mixture this year, with 28 percent of respondents having five years or less and 34 percent with 11 or more. The 6-10 and 11-14 groups split the remainder evenly. Last year, almost 90 percent of our respondents came from the three upper-tier groups, with just 11.6 percent from the 0-5 group.
  • How long is your current contract?: This question might get struck next year. Last year, about 74 percent of respondents had two-year deals, while this year, 72 percent do. Last year, the bulk of scouts without two-year deals were on one-year contracts. This year, responses were split evenly between one year and three years, which I found unusual.
  • Have you ever served in a director-level NFL role (Director of College, Director of Pro, DPP, AGM/GM)?: As last year, the overwhelming majority of respondents had no director-level experience (81 percent both years).
  • Pension?: This offered a bit of good news, as the percentage of scouts with a pension actually ticked up slightly (58 percent over 56 percent last year). The perception across the industry is that pensions are disappearing, and that still may be true. As we continue with the survey, time will tell if this is really a trend.
  • 401(k) match: The results here are really too diverse to read. We offered nine options on our survey, with no real consensus. The two biggest percentages are in basic match and five percent or less match (about 22 percent each). Last year, match up to a fixed (and not designated in our survey) match led the way with about 28 percent. The bad news: last year, only two percent of respondents had no match at all; this year, it’s more than 12 percent.
  • Per diem: These numbers basically didn’t move. About 70 percent of the industry gets between $50-$60 per day.
  • Car allowance: Not many scouts are driving around in company cars, with less than 10 percent checking that box each of the last two years. The majority of scouts seem to be getting $600-$700 (31 percent this year) or $700-plus (28 percent this year). Those numbers are similar to last year.
  • Receipts/miles for gas: About two-thirds of scouts must turn in their receipts for reimbursement; those results are basically unchanged from last year. Among those that get paid per mile, the going rate is 41 cents per mile or higher for about 30 percent of respondents.
  • Buy Super Bowl tickets?: These numbers didn’t change in any meaningful way. More than half (53 percent both years) don’t get a chance to buy. Of those that do, about 30 percent (both years) get to buy two, and a little less than 10 percent get to buy four. I’ve heard that some teams in military towns donate tickets to bases, which cuts back on the number available to scouts.
  • Playoff share: Both years, about a third of respondents said playoff share is up to the owner’s discretion, while about another third get a 25 percent share. Last year, about a quarter got a half share, while this year that number fell to about 15 percent. 
  • Does your current contract make any provisions for a possible lockout?: Not good news here. Last year, only about a quarter of respondents reported provisions for a reduction in pay due to a lockout. This year, that percentage is up to almost half. Clearly, owners see storm clouds looming.

For a closer look at what scouts take home in actual pay, check out the Friday Wrap. It comes out at 7:30 p.m. EST, and you can register for it here.