This week is the Senior Bowl, which makes it a big week in the life of college and pro football. Though the media is starting to catch on to the energy, the personality and the football buzz of the week in Mobile, I still think this game (and this week) is one of the hidden gems of football. Here are a few thoughts.
- I know of at least two people here this week that are budding members of the pro football business who have come here to find their place. No doubt there are many more. One of them is my assistant, Murphy, who’s invaluable to me, but who wants to get an unvarnished look at the life of a contract advisor. I’m happy to help push him out of the nest. Though this is his third Senior Bowl, this week he’s asked several top agents what it takes to be successful in this business. To their credit, they’ve pulled no punches. To Murphy’s credit, he hasn’t flinched at the answers. He’d be crazy not to be given pause by their responses, but so far, it looks like he’s unbowed. Everyone he’s spoken to is a leader in the business, with a lengthy career and a growing practice. You just can’t find that kind of expertise anywhere else in the league except at the Senior Bowl.
- Of course, there’s more than just agents here. All 32 teams send most of their scouts and often their coaching staffs, too. You also get a lot of college coaches who come to go to bat for players on the rosters or to see if they can land a job in the NFL. It’s a little like a coaches convention, though my sense is that it’s not nearly as popular as a ‘jobs clearinghouse’ as it used to be. I think the AFCA Convention has replaced it in that vein.
- Though you don’t necessarily have to be a credentialed part of the Senior Bowl to get a lot of out of it, getting credentials isn’t automatic. Yesterday was one of the rare times I got a first-person account of someone almost wasn’t approved. For the most part, if you’re in the business or can make a credible argument that you are, you’ll be approved. Many times, a person’s credential identifies him as merely a ‘friend’ of a player in the game or some other NFL official. I’ve seen it.
- Even if you’re not credentialed, you can still come and be a part of the week. Having a tag around your neck gets you on the field and gets you into the various galas in the evening, but if you just want to go to practice, you can sit in the stands without getting hassled. What’s more, the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel, the game’s nerve center, is open and the people are very hospitable. At night, people converge on a handful of bars in downtown Mobile, but only a handful, and they’re easy to find. Last night, walking thru the downtown area, it was clear there were several establishments that wanted Senior Bowl business, but only 2-3 that were actually getting it.