I remember 3-4 years ago I was talking to my friend Josh Luchs in the weeks leading up to his speaking at my event at the combine.
While Josh is a very polarizing figure in the agent world due to the misdeeds he admitted to in a book he wrote a few years ago, he’s very insightful. At any rate, we were on the phone talking about the fascination so many have with the agent business, and how so many young professionals are willing to risk everything for such a volatile venture. “After all, it’s just commission sales,” he said, and I heartily agreed.
Ever look through the want ads, or sift through the jobs available online on job boards or other similar services? It’s mostly auto dealers and insurance firms looking for new salesmen. I remember several years ago I was the one looking at those jobs, and I remember the revulsion I felt and the frustration of seeing nothing available but sales positions. Maybe if you’ve been in that position, you’ve felt the same way. It’s not uncommon.
However, if that’s true, why are so many obsessed with the idea of working in sports? No matter what you do in football, you will be constantly pressured to find new ways to make money, usually at considerable risk. Very rarely do you get to focus on ‘operations’ — coaching, running a business, taking care of your client, even playing — without frequently having to step out of your comfort zone to solicit people.
I remember several years ago I was at a football clinic where then-University of Texas football coach Mack Brown spoke. He’s excellent in one-on-one situations, and always greets people he’s introduced to by first name. That’s because he’s received training on how to present himself at all times, and it (was) all in the name of ticket sales, sponsorship sales and every other kind of money-making effort associated with the Longhorns. I remember him listening to his presentation, and it was primarily a rousing promotion of the team’s chances that season. Of course, the reason he was at the clinic in the first place was to sell himself and his team to the high school coaches of Texas, who would in turn sell UT to its best players.
If you think about it, Roger Goodell is a salesman, trying to protect his brand in the wake of the Ray Rice mess. FXFL Commissioner Brian Woods is a salesman as he tries to find sponsors of his league as well as owners to take a chance on a start-up proposition like the FXFL. Every time a college or NFL coach speaks at a fanfest or dinner, he’s trying to sell tickets.
Being an agent is no different. You’re basically investing money and effort up front (in the form of training and recruiting fees plus countless hours courting your prospect), then ‘selling’ your client to NFL teams, trying to draw up interest.
As always, I’m not trying to make the football business any less enticing, interesting or sexy, but I think it bears mentioning. You might be the kind of person who would never consider hawking cars or insurance, but if you aspire to work in football, you’ll probably be in sales, nonetheless.