Today, as I sent emails back and forth with one of my longtime clients in the NFL financial planning square, the tone of things changed rather quickly, and he asked if I could address loyalty, or, in his words, integrity, on one of my platforms. Here’s what he wrote:

“I think the lack of integrity on the players’ part would be an interesting discussion. We all have been fired, it is never fun.  Agents get it worse than we (financial advisors) do, for sure.  But I think most would agree that a notice from the player would go a long way. “Hey, I appreciate everything you have done.  My decision is final but I want you to know I am taking my business elsewhere.”  Stinks, but that is a WHOLE lot better than getting a notice by the NFLPA or an ACAT e-mail (email that tells an FA the account is transferring out).

“Me personally– I’ve had a player stay at my house, I went to see the week before my wife was due with our first child (you know that baby could arrive at ANY minute), thought highly enough of me that he referred 5 other players—he fired me with no warning.  Not even a text message.  Still to this day no clue why it happened.

“So I would be interested in war stories/theories as to why players have no integrity when it comes to business.  Is it upbringing?  Is it they have been pampered the whole way up and never taught about integrity?  I doubt that, coaches take that pretty seriously.  Lack of maturity? Food for thought.”

I gotta tell you, this topic is one that’s regularly discussed in the business. There’s a general lack of decorum when it comes to terminations (actually, player-advisor relations in general) that is getting worse instead of better. In fact, I would say the two reasons most often cited by people getting out of the business is (a) the money involved in earning clients and (b) the difficulty in maintaining them due to the lack of respect many players have for the relationship.

My theory on this is that all their lives, elite athletes are use to getting their way. Very rarely in modern society is a great athlete told ‘no.’ For that reason, they start thinking it’s an entitlement to be told ‘yes.’ It’s rare for players to grow up in the warm sunshine of preference and not become impossibly self-centered. Only those whose parents did an exceptional and intentional job of keeping them grounded wind up handling this kind of attention.

For what it’s worth, offensive linemen seem to be the exception to ‘great athlete’ syndrome. For whatever reason, regardless of race, socioeconomic background, geography, or any other factors, most O-linemen seem to be understanding, deferential and even respectful to the people who manage them. Of course, there are always exceptions, but this is why I always recommend a new agent’s first client be a center, guard or tackle.

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