Just got off the phone with a former NFLPA-licensed agent. He got out of the business about three years ago after experiencing some initial success but ultimately realizing that he couldn’t keep up with the financial demands of the business. Here are three things I took from our conversation.
1. He misses the game dearly: My friend didn’t want to admit it, but I know he wishes he were still in. Even though the money associated with the game is daunting (he had several investors, and I doubt any of them got any return on their commitments), there’s just no high like saying you did the contract of an NFL player; that you identified that player as a future star, and he became one; and that you can walk among others in the business and know you are succeeding, if only for a little while (in his case). It’s a non-drug high that never really goes away, as long as you are ‘winning’ in the business. Of course, winning isn’t easy . . . .
2. His strategy was all wrong: My friend eventually got worn down by the chase for the next big prospect. He made choices that ultimately took him down a path out of football. The irony is that he got into the game just before combine training was becoming a major part of recruiting, and was able to sign a player who became a solid NFL starter. Eventually, that wasn’t enough, and he had to chase big names, maybe to satisfy his own ego. Had he tried to find other hidden gems, making a reasonable investment but not breaking the bank, maybe he could have sustained his success.
3. He’s looking for something to fill that void: My friend hasn’t walked away from sports entirely, and has tried his hand at a number of ventures. Some are related to representation, some to event coordination, but none football-related. I know that’s something he misses, no matter what he says. There’s just no other game like football for action, for theater, for all the things young men (and women, to some degree, but especially men) seek in life.
I know I’ve said this often, but if you aspire to make this game your career, know that it’s an addiction you’ll probably carry with you to your grave, whether you succeed or not. I hope you go for it, but if you do, go for it with all your heart, because this is not the kind of career that fits neatly into a drawer or a closet.