When a young man’s dreams come crashing down abruptly, as they did for hundreds of young men this weekend, things can get crazy. Here’s one of the craziest examples of this that I’ve seen in years.
Shortly after the season was completed, probably in November, I got an email from a draft hopeful for ’15. He played an unglamorous position at a small school, but he was eager and I liked his attitude, even though I feared he was a bit of a self-promoter and maybe a little unrealistic about the challenges he faced. He wanted me to feature him in this space and help him along the path to the draft. I told him I do this for lots of young men and that I run a for-profit venture, and offered to help if he’d come aboard briefly. No surprise, I never heard from him again.
It was maybe a month later that I got a text from one of my agent clients, an incredibly hard-working and driven new contract advisor who’s been in the game a short while. This young agent wears his emotions on his sleeve and lives and dies every day for his clients. He will not be denied, and takes on a lot of long shots in an effort to get ahead. I cautioned him that his time was/is valuable, and his efforts promoting this young man might not lead anywhere. Still, my friend pressed on, pitching him to a scouting expert who is a mutual friend.
The scout told my friend about what I had told him — that his NFL chances were exceptionally long and that it was probably not worth his time to work with him. My friend wouldn’t hear it, and instead sent him to a special trainer that worked on his flexibility and movement in addition to the usual combine prep. Days before the draft, my friend was really encourage and hopeful of his client’s chances, as most agents are. I shared his enthusiasm, and even started to believe that this young man might beat the odds. Apparently, his family and friends were absolutely certain that he would.
Then the draft came and went with no calls. Saturday night came and went with no calls. This did not go over well with the player’s family, and so the phone calls started to my friend. Over and over, different members of the young man’s family called. They blamed the agent for his predicament. They told him he had ruined the young man’s chances of going to the NFL. They called other people, trying to get them to tout the young man in an attempt to embarrass my friend, who was only guilty of believing in an against-the-odds player. On Saturday night, I told my friend to fire the player. This was hard to do, because it would leave the young man high and dry, but it would also formally end my friend’s chances of reclaiming his several-thousand-dollar investment in him.
My friend got a phone call at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning. It was the player’s brother “waking him up” so he could start calling teams and cajoling them into taking the player. At that point, I became more adamant that my friend fire this young man. As of today, the young man still has no job, but as far as I know, my friend still represents him.
The player got some interest from well-meaning but less-than-credible websites and he did several interviews and got some attention, and he accomplished a few things in workouts that got him acclaim. But none of this was going to overcome his shortcomings on the field.
If you’re aspiring to represent players in this league, understand that what happened to my friend isn’t entirely a fluke. Someone has to take the blame when a player’s dreams don’t come true. Most often, it’s the agent. That’s why I encourage you not to take on hopeless cases, expecting gratitude. More often than not, you won’t get it anyway. Find the best player you can, but don’t take on reclamation projects and don’t take on hopeless cases. In the end, it’s only going to create heartache, probably before and definitely after the draft.