One of the things that I’ve found to be true in the football world is that it’s a ‘quid pro quo’ world. Who benefits most from a relationship? It’s a question you must constantly ask yourself as you gain contacts and build your network. Is this a specifically football-related issue? Maybe not. But let me tell a story about how it’s been illustrated in my career.

When I ran the 2008 Hula Bowl, I had one agent who was constantly calling me and advocating for a certain player. He just wouldn’t stop. I mean, no matter how many times I told him it wasn’t going to happen, this agent kept on calling me back, up to the eleventh hour, trying to shoehorn him into my game. Keep in mind that I already had one of his clients in the game, but he thought I owed him another one. Well, sorry. No dice. We’ve had only infrequent contact over the years though we both definitely know each other.

So earlier this year, he confronted me about something I’d written last fall. He was polite about it, and it didn’t turn into anything heated, but he was clearly angry, though subdued. I couldn’t help but laugh when he brought it up, and I wondered at the time what made things so funny. I’ve thought about it since, and finally come up with the answer.

This agent thought he had done me a real favor by sending me one of his players, and felt he’d been wronged when I didn’t take the other one. Quid pro quo. When I further wrote something that he found negative on the site — which is part of my job, and something that always creates tension in my relationship with various agents — he felt like I’d further let him down. On the other hand, I felt like he owed me. I’d gotten one of his clients into my game even though he’d never thought enough of me to become an ITL client (though I’m sure he’s used unauthorized passwords to access the site), and I took offense at that. So maybe that was my quid pro quo moment, too.

So what happened early in 2014 had its seeds in that time in late ’07 and early ’08 when he was trying to get a player into the game and I was resisting. He felt he had done me a favor by putting one big-school client in my game, and was doing me another favor by letting one more of his clients play. I felt I was doing him a favor by allowing a player with an iffy draft status into my game; after all, that invitation included an all-expenses-paid week in Hawaii, where he’d be evaluated by scouts and given a chance to go from nowhere to somewhere, football-wise.

As you work your way up the football ladder, I hope you aren’t as small as I was earlier this year (and sometimes, admittedly, still can be at times). However, I also want you to realize that, in the football world, score-keeping takes place off the field and not just on it.

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