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At ITL, we focus on the game behind the game; once you start to understand how the business of football works, it can be just as exciting as the game on the field. With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at what’s going on behind the scenes in football this time of year, a time when most fans are working themselves into a frenzy counting down the minutes until camps start.

AFL: Arena teams are making their final pushes for the playoffs. Many teams are frantically trying to plug holes created by injuries, ineffectiveness, etc. Team officials, most of whom do their own scouting, are trying to find impact players, and more importantly, hoping to find agents or other contact info that can get them to the players they need.

NFLPA agent exam: Aspiring NFL contract advisors are gearing up to travel to Washington, D.C., next week for a two-day seminar that ends with a three-hour, open-book test covering 60 questions on the CBA and other related matters. They’ll find out at the end of September how they did. Historically, about 200-250 take the test and about 75 percent pass.

Agent days: Speaking of agents, several schools will hold meetings between the contract advisors registered with the school and the seniors who will be draft-eligible after the 2014 season. Typically, agents submit the names of players they wish to meet with in advance, and the school notifies them of the players who have expressed a mutual interest in meeting. The school usually asks agents to refrain from any other communications with players until after the season, which is problematic, but best left for discussion another time.

Training facilities: With the advent of a new CBA in 2011, much of the offseason emphasis for training switched from team facilities to training facilities all over the nation. Especially in NFL cities, you can find athletes at selected gyms, especially those that focus on combine prep, especially those in the Southeast.

Job-hunting gets tough: The desperation really sets in for NFL scouts let go in after the draft (as well as those who were dismissed in 2013). There’s a flurry of job-seeking for scouts in early June each year, but those jobs are filled quickly, and once they’re gone, opportunities are rare. Some scouts will find places with AFL teams, but not until after the season is over later this summer. Others will try to latch on with colleges in the increasingly common ‘director of player personnel’ roles, but most schools are looking to fill these jobs with young (and less expensive) coaches.

All-star games: Many groups see all-star games as a good way to bring the excitement of the gridiron to a city that doesn’t have an NFL team or direct affiliation with a major college football program. They use the summer to explore the viability of bringing 100 draft-eligible players to their local stadium in January to be studied and evaluated by NFL teams. Right now, we know of at least three games that are in exploratory stages, and I’m in preliminary discussion stages of running one of them. If I come to terms with the game’s organizers, I’ll announce it in this space.

I know this kind of information isn’t necessarily the kind that gets your blood pumping and your heart racing, but if your aim is to be part of the game — and this blog is designed for just such people — it helps to start thinking of the football biz as a 12-month proposition. Knowing what’s going on all around the game will help you find your niche.

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