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We talked on Thursday about the value of recruiting — really, sales — in the business of football. Today let’s touch on some of the reasons people don’t recruit, or at least don’t recruit effectively.

  • They expect referrals — This is the classic mistake people new to the business make. Getting certified by the NFLPA as a contract advisor or a financial planner is a necessary step if you seek to represent NFL players. However, the NFLPA’s aid in attracting clients is zero. This comes as quite a surprise to many new members of the program. Getting certified doesn’t get you ‘insider’ player ratings, or contact information, or any kind of special access to potential clients.
  • They market to agents — A company introducing new chinstrap technology sponsored a big event at the 2013 NFL combine in Indianapolis. They rented a downtown bar, stocked it with food and free drinks, and invited every agent certified by the NFLPA (around 800). It was a classic rookie mistake. What they got for their money — and this event wasn’t cheap — was a bunch of new agents with no connections, empty bellies and time on their hands. I don’t know anyone associated with the company, and I haven’t spoken to them, but my guess is what they didn’t get was any kind of business from this. If you sponsor an event where agents may congregate (this is commonplace at the Senior Bowl, as well), you will get people coming around to eat your food and drink your drinks. However, the big names and connected people you want to reach will never be there.
  • They trust the wrong people — I have a well-intentioned friend who got certified as an agent two summers ago. He’s a great guy, and exceptionally trusting. For this reason, he’s handed out way too much money over the past year-and-a-half. When you’re certified, your name becomes public, and you immediately start getting cold calls from shysters of every stripe. You’ll have people who want to start combine prep facilities. You’ll have people who call themselves ‘business managers’ as well as other glorified middle men. You’ll have pseudo-financial professionals who don’t show up on FINRA. All of these people will promise access to players, and in most cases, they are insistent that they have a pipeline to players for the foreseeable future, through contacts at a high school or a Pop Warner league or some other youth organization. People with some form of financial resources and a desire to take the shortcut to the top of the football business are easy prey for these people. It’s always amazing how big-name professionals suddenly become naive kids when they enter the football business, and nine out of 10 times, these cons are never reported due to embarrassment.