Last night, I had someone register for Inside the League, but who stopped short of completing the pay page and subscribing. I call these people ‘tire-kickers.’ They aren’t sure if they want to risk $29.95 to find out if ITL can help them. Fair enough. That’s one reason I started Succeed in Football.

By his name, I think he was a member of the 2014 draft class, though I’m not sure it’s the same person. We get once-highly touted players from previous draft classes that ‘tire-kick’ all the time, wondering if we can find them another shot at glory. People often confuse Inside the League with an agency, and when they find out we aren’t an agency, they ask us to give them referrals to an agency. This is one of the saddest parts of the football business, because there’s nothing we can do to help.

I’ve heard players from former draft classes described as melting ice cubes, and it’s a pretty apt description. If a player goes undrafted, that’s bad, but he still might sign an undrafted free agent deal. If he goes undrafted and unsigned, that’s bad, too, but maybe he can at least hang on if he gets a CFL deal, or at least an AFL deal. However, if he gets to June with no deal and no offers, the summer sun really starts to get hot.

I don’t want to turn this into another cliched ‘stay in school’ story, and no one needs to tell you that getting your degree is the most important thing you can do during your college days. Instead, I discuss this as a reminder that this is a business, and decisions are made for coldly logical reasons.

Here’s another illustration. I got an email from a new agent today, and he mentioned that he was overwhelmed this year with working two jobs. I presume he meant working his ‘day job’ and pressing ahead with his sports representation dream. Good for him. I’m glad he wasn’t foolish enough to put all his eggs in the ‘agent’ basket.

Very often, I’ve spoken to people who think being an agent can be an instant career choice for them, an escape from a boring life as a corporate lawyer or a mid-level banker or even a bartender. But it’s really important to understand that this pursuit — almost any pursuit, really — will take time, and because it takes time, it will take money to keep your head above water in the interim.

I remember when I first launched ITL, I considered leaving my ‘day job’ as a low-level copy editor at a major southern newspaper. I thought of my desire for security as an act of cowardice or a failure to truly believe in myself. I’m so glad today that I didn’t cast security to the wind. It took me a lot of tries to figure what would work for ITL and what wouldn’t, how to work smarter and not always just work harder.

If you’re pursuing a place in the world of football, make sure you realize two things. One, a little early success doesn’t guarantee you anything, and you can run out of resources (and time) quickly if you’re not careful. Two, it doesn’t make you a coward if you hedge your bets professionally. After all, it’s not that you don’t believe you’ll be successful; it just means you’re willing to accept that you might not be instantly successful.

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