Today, we continue our conversation with Don Mewhort, whose son, Jack, was drafted 2/59 by the Colts in May.
As you read Jack’s answers, there are a few things I find noteworthy. First, he cautions that a good agent doesn’t over-promise, and in fact is adamant that the only person who can improve a player’s ‘draft stock’ is the player himself. Second, though contact with agents was (rightly) restricted by Don and his attorney father, the limited contacts that several agents had with Jack before the season seemed to factor into the Buckeye’s final decision. He also has an interesting idea on what the NFLPA might provide to NFL draft prospects that he would have found helpful.
When did you conduct meetings with agents?
People would come into Toledo and meet with my father (an attorney) and I and that happened from right now through Thanksgiving, maybe the Michigan game (Nov. 30). We met with a number of people, then narrowed the list down after the regular season, after the Big Ten Championship Game (Dec. 7), and we narrowed the list down, and after that, coordinated that, narrowed it more. After the Big Ten Championship Game we had it down to four. Jack was not that involved in that process. It was more my father and I who did it, and he left it up to us. He was more focused on football at that point. And really the reason for that was that the people we had spoken to, everybody emphasized that the most important thing for Jack to do was having a good senior season.
Did any agents ever offer anything illegal or make any untoward advances?
No, no one.
From what you saw, what tipped the scales to Priority Sports for Jack?
I think there was a personal connection between Mike (McCartney) and Jack that they developed, and I’ll tell you, the final four were very, very close. It was a very difficult decision. I think the client base that Priority Sports had was helpful, because they had (ex-Buckeye and former NFL first-rounder) A.J. Hawk as a client, so the other type of clients they had we thought fit with the kind of player and person Jack was. We felt the agent selected would be accessible for Jack, and we felt that way for the others as well, but (we felt that) once he made that decision, the agent wasn’t going to disappear for four years. We felt any of the final four were going to be real advisors to him. One of the things I think Mike did a good job of doing, and one of the things Priority did well, was that they were very straight from the very beginning that there’s not a lot of things that an agent can do to improve your draft slot. It’s really how well you do in your senior year. I would warn people that go through the process that if (an agent) tells you they’re going to make you a first-round draft pick, ask them how they’re going to do that. It’s really flattering (for agents) to tell (potential clients) how good they are, but if they can’t tell you how they’re going to take you from a fourth-round draft pick to a first-round pick . . . ask them how it’s going to happen. One thing that was consistent among all the finalists was that they were very straightforward with us, and what they were telling us was true and not what we wanted to hear.
Did you have a lot of people who told you they could really move Jack up in the draft?
Some people would tout their relationships in the league and stuff like that; they know this guy or they’re tied in with this person, or, well, you know. But we were pretty careful. Of the 10-15 people we met with, we were pretty careful with who we met with. The ones we met with were all pretty professional. We were pleased. They were all very competent people. You have to make a decision, and one personality might fit a little better with your son.
So Jack made his decision based solely off the presentations the four finalists made on that day after the season when you conducted interviews?
Well, he had had conversations with most of the guys, on and off, and had talked to them before, before we had asked people to hold off on calling, or maybe traded some texts or had some interaction with them. Maybe he had seen them after a game. But (the day when we conducted interviews is) when the harder questions were asked about how it was going to work. We couldn’t have even brought them in if they hadn’t had some interaction with Jack before then.
Did the school try to limit your contact with agents or put any other restraints on you?
The compliance department at Ohio State is ‘on it.’ They do an excellent job of trying to educate the kids and parents about the pitfalls if you don’t handle it properly. They didn’t put any restrictions on us but they did educate us on it, and if you have a question, you better go to compliance and talk to them. That comes straight from Coach Meyer. He doesn’t want anyone to say they didn’t know. (Athletic Director) Gene Smith and the compliance people do a really good job.
What is the one thing – resource, advisor, whatever – you wished you’d had at this time last summer?
What would be helpful for parents is if the Players Association would put out the contracts from players from the previous draft. Like, ‘here’s what the second pick in the fourth round got in ’12, and this was their agent,’ because everyone brought in their own interpretation of the contracts. If the (NFLPA) could put out a consistent document that said, ‘this is what everyone got, and this was their agent,’ that would be helpful. Because you can go online, but you can’t tell what’s guaranteed and what’s not guaranteed, and I think it would be helpful for agents as well.
We’re probably a little different, but you got to find someone you can trust. You feel someone else can do it better, or a coach, or a lawyer, or an accountant, somebody at church, but somebody who doesn’t care and that can help you with it. As a parent, you get a little biased, and you’re probably not as objective as you should be. You should find that person who only cares about your kid, that can be helpful, and obviously the service (ITL provides) is helpful.