The following list came from my friend, Huntington, W.Va.-based David Rich of Rich Sports Management. Dave is not a super-agent in the flashy, represents-every-first-rounder sense, except when it comes to his sense of humor. If he wanted to take his series of stories on the business to the stage, he would be the Jerry Seinfeld of sports representation.
He’s learned a lot of lessons on his way to running a solid, mid-sized agency that regularly gets clients drafted in the middle-to-late round despite not going to the combine and not getting splashy headlines.
Today, he volunteered what he calls his ‘Top 10 rules every sports agent should know and follow.’ I’ve reproduced it here in full with minimal edits. Here goes. My favorites are Nos. 10 and 7.
10. Never let a player borrow your personal vehicle unless you want to find it burnt up on the side of the highway in Macon, Ga.
9. If you find a prospect, make it hard as hell for them to fire you for as long as you can, because they eventually will unless you are their dad (and often they fire you for their dad).
8. If a guy gets into your car on the way to the NFL Combine with a jug of water, and it has instructions on when to drink it and what to take with it written in Sharpie on the jug, expect that guy not to play in the NFL.
8A. (See also ‘If that same guy calls you from the NFL Combine at 4 a.m. saying he can’t find his ID, so he can’t take the NFL urine test that morning, despite the fact that he’s got his name written on the back of the shirt the NFL Combine just gave him,’ same advice).
7. Never assume when you ask a prospect if he’s been arrested that he’s counting arrests where he didn’t think he was guilty or where the case settled without having to go to trial.
6. All college players think they are first-round picks. All of them. Even the team managers. They all see what the first-round picks are getting (rental cars, training in Arizona or Florida, etc.) and they not only want it, but think they deserve it. What’s more, if you aren’t willing to provide it to them, it’s because you don’t “believe in them” enough.
5. Every player you sign will think he is the long-shot exception that is going to make the NFL, and beat all the odds. No matter that he only played one season; has no film; has two labrum tears in three years; and his college coach hates him and tells every scout he knows to “take him off their list.” So prepare to lose money — a lot of it — because there is always some schmuck out there willing to pay more to train, house and feed a bad player, and you have to bid against them.
4. If the player is chasing you, there is a reason for that. Good players don’t chase agents. Good players are chased.
3. Most players don’t understand that their level of “want” doesn’t always equal the level of “will get.” Wanting to make the NFL does not mean you will make it. Lots of guys who suck want to make it. Players think their agent can call a team and say “sign my guy.” I always ask my players, “How pretty is your girlfriend?” When they tell me how hot they are, I tell them, “Really? That hot? Well I’ve got a really ugly sister. Break up with your girlfriend and date my ugly sister. No, I’m serious! Date her! Because I want you to! Just like you think I can convince an NFL team to cut a guy they really like for you.” They get it pretty quick then.
2. If your player is dumb, he won’t play in the NFL. Yeah he’ll make it for a while, may even get drafted, but if he’s truly dumb, like ‘can’t line up in the right place’ dumb, you are wasting your time.
1. I patented this phrase so don’t steal it, or I’ll sue you: Everyone says they want the truth, but then when you tell it to them, they wish you would have lied. This is so true, especially of hot women in bars and NFL prospects. I’m not saying to lie. I’m saying, you better be prepared to operate in the gray. Dark gray. I’m talking ‘Navy-Seal-raid-on-a-compound-at-4-a.m.-dark-gray.’ Abe-Lincoln-photo gray. You can’t tell a player he won’t be drafted. Ever. Even if you know he won’t be. You have to say that if he follows the plan and works his tail off, there’s no limit to what he can do.