Lots of people dream of being a sports agent. I get to work with the ones who actually go through with the necessary steps to make that dream a reality, and it’s very rewarding when it works out. But sometimes it doesn’t, and there are some very good reasons for that. Here are two.
1. In the interests of full disclosure, Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports is a good friend, and even spoke at our last symposium at the 2014 NFL combine. He occasionally cites me on his Twitter feed or posts stuff that I have on ITL. On Friday, he commented on the University of Texas’ cancellation of its agent day, and what followed was this interplay with one of his followers. Now, I understand that Twitter is where snark reigns, and I know that in today’s post-modern society, everyone’s opinion is to be given equal weight, no matter how without merit. Still, Stosberg’s retort really makes me angry because he clearly has no understanding of the agent process and sees only one side of the argument. Which is really convenient.
Yes, I understand that agents make easy scapegoats.
Yes, I understand that the common perception is that all sports agents are sleeping on piles of money, washing their hair with money, drying themselves off with money after working out, etc., but the vast majority of contract advisors are taking great financial risks on long shot players with no prospect of recovering these fees.
Yes, I recognize that sports masses only know of agents what they see in TV or read online. I realize that there’s even a fair amount of jealousy on the part of some sports fans who wish they had the opportunity to play in the NFL.
Still, isn’t it worth considering that these players have a right to make informed decisions about the people in whose hands they’ll be putting their NFL dreams? Is that unfair? Which leads me to my second item.
2. Check out this story that was in the Texas Tribune (and NYT online) on Sunday, and not just because I’m quoted in it. I think the ‘wow’ moment comes when Drew Pittman, a long-established agent with Domann & Pittman (and yes, Drew and I are also good friends) talks about the money he’s spent with the state just staying certified. Even at that, if he wants to stay in good graces, he’ll stay in his lane and not complain when the University of Texas bars him from speaking to any of its players until the entire regular season has been completed. And he shouldn’t expect the state to go out and bring down the few dirty guys out there. He just needs to stay in his corner, and keep his mouth shut until at least the end of November, with no other contact, and hope he can get lucky based on one quick meeting.
Is that how most multi-million dollar business deals are consummated?
Is that how any multi-million dollar business deals are consummated?
The narrative says that your run-of-the-mill agent is so corrupt that you can’t take any chances. You just have to bar them completely from even speaking to players to preserve these players’ pristine, blameless, innocent amateur status. That’s sad. Still, is it so absurd to suggest that if you’re in the education business, and you care about your players (even after they leave college), you might be interested in educating them? Maybe it is absurd, because most schools hold to this kind of policy. There are very few schools with progressive policies that give players the tools to know what to look for and what to stay away from. That’s a real shame.
These are two examples of what NFL agents have to deal with. The issues look simple, but they’re not. If you’re seeking to work with NFL hopefuls one day, keep this in mind.