There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to recruiting. Today I wanted to expand some on the nature of ‘breakups’ in recruiting.
When an agent, or a financial planner, or a combine prep trainer, or anyone in the business decides he’s going to pursue a potential client, there’s a lot that goes into it. The football professional has to make sure the player has NFL ability, and every recruiting decision ultimately turns on that question. Let’s say the determination is made that the player’s ‘got it.’ Now the pursuit begins.
Most seasoned agents will start with reaching out to a current client playing in the league who knows (or is related to) the prospect. They might also contact a coach on staff for the player. If it’s a less seasoned agent/financial planner/etc., he might just cold-call the player’s family or message him through his school email. In some cases, the first contact will be at a school’s ‘agent day,’ though that’s a very touch-and-go proposition that we’ll discuss at some other time. The point is, a relationship begins to build as regular contact begins. Most often, the relationship initiates sometime in the spring/summer before a player’s senior year, then often continues throughout the fall. Often, a player cuts off contact during the season to focus on the field, but just as often, there’s regular communication between the prospect and the professional. A bond is formed that is genuine.
So here’s the point. The usual media portrayal of a person in the business is of a blood-sucking mercenary who sees players strictly as dollar signs. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me they got into the business because they saw all players as victims of unscrupulous agents, and shows like this just feed that stereotype. It’s a lie, and a lazy generalization. Almost every one of my agent clients and every one of the financial advisors I work with is a genuine human being. So what does that mean? Well, for one, it means it’s very difficult for them to extract themselves from relationships when a player tells him he’s out of the race.
I was talking to an agent yesterday who has had a great degree of success in a short time in this business. He told me a story of a prospect in the ’15 draft who said this week that he didn’t want to go further with the relationship: the young man had decided that my friend would no longer be in consideration to be his agent.
At this point, the agent had already personally flown out to visit him twice. He had met his family. He knew the young man’s parents pretty well, and maybe had even met his siblings. He had spoken to him countless times and they had discussed plenty of things outside of football. This particular agent is young, so I’m sure he identified with a lot of things that the player was going through for that reason. He had watched games from previous seasons and knew exactly what the kid had to work on, and had mentally built a game plan for shoring up his weaknesses. I’m sure my friend already had an idea of how he would market him to teams had he signed him. He had made a real investment in the young man, but it was all over, just like that. My friend compared it to being dumped by a girlfriend. I hear this story all the time.
Now, you may say this is the nature of sales, and you may say it’s the price to be paid for working in a tough business. You would be right. However, as I’ve mentioned multiple times in this space, there’s a human element to this business, and it’s rare that people on the school side (coaches, compliance officials, etc.) give football professionals credit for being people who really care about the players they recruit. If you’re considering a career in football, don’t make the same mistake. To succeed in football, you have to pour your heart into this profession. That’s an awesome thing when you hit the peaks, but a really hard thing when the inevitable valleys come.