The deadline for agents to renew their registration with the NFLPA is Oct. 15. Meanwhile, agents who took the test this summer are have already been notified of their results, and they’re sending in their fees and acquiring liability insurance now.

This time of dreams starting and dreams ending got me thinking about who fails, and why? I think part of it is commitment, and it’s true whether you want to be a scout or an agent (two of the major groups I deal with). Let me begin with a brief story.

When new agents come into the league, I try to reach out to them. I get various reactions. Some understand that the league is a tough nut to crack, they have a lot to learn, and they eventually become clients. Some understand it’s a tough business, that they have a lot to learn, but don’t want to pay $25/month to hopefully learn more and increase their chances of succeeding. Some refuse to acknowledge that they’ll be anything less than an instant success. I don’t often stay in regular contact with them.

At any rate, I think there are three levels of commitment. The first level of commitment is represented by the person who actually goes for it. Rather than saying, ‘I’m going to be an agent some day,’ he actually pays his fee and takes the exam. I have a lot of respect for everyone who does this. The equivalent in the scouting industry would probably be people who major in sports management in college. It’s an affirmative step in the right direction.

The next level of commitment says, ‘I’m going to get certified, but I’m going to keep my costs minimal so if I fail, I’m not wrecked.’ I understand this level of commitment. These folks are usually the ones that take my call, but realize their chances of success are a long shot, and want to manage their risk. They concede that that initial $4000 or so is gone, and they’re a bit afraid to go any farther than that. Though I understand them, I wish I had reached them before they got certified so they’d know more about the level of financial investment required. Aspiring scouts in this group would probably be the ones that start a draft website. They take a step and put themselves out there, but they’re always guarding their perception by others, and rarely go outside their circle to really gain followers.

The next level of commitment is similar to the last. The people in this group realize they have a lot to learn, and their risk tolerance is minimal, but still they are willing to spend a bit more money — in the case of ITL, $29.95/mo — to really get the answers they need. Maybe you want to be a scout; the equivalent here would be the people who aggressively network, attend coaches clinics, seminars, out-of-town symposiums, and things like that to increase their odds of success. Either way, people in this group are willing to spend a little more money and a little more time to increase their odds of success.

The people in the final level of commitment basically take the lid off and go all out to win, knowing there are no guarantees. Some of them leave their day jobs (which I don’t recommend). This can be a dangerous group. For one, the agent business can be plenty pricey if you’re not careful, and spending bottomless sums on combine training, interview skills, and whatever doesn’t lock anything in. However, if you have the resources and you’re smart about it, you can be dangerous to the status quo. I guess the people pursuing scouting that would be in this group are those that start seeking NFL and college internships while they’re still in high school, never talk about anything else, make it clear to everyone they know that they have one dream, and put everything else (social lives, hobbies, career pursuits, etc.) on the back burner.

You can succeed if you are willing to do whatever it takes. Again, I’m not saying you will, but you can. It’s a real joy for someone like me when I can play a role in that.