June is fun for me because it’s the month I spend interviewing my new agent clients who had first-year success. I get to hear the personal stories of the 10 percent of all new contract advisors who actually got a player on a roster (about two-thirds of them are ITL clients annually).
I always ask the same six questions. Some of the answers are wildly divergent (some people say the exam is so easy, and some say it’s incredibly hard), but there are always recurring themes. One of them regards the reason people get into the business.
The perception is that agents are, by and large, attorneys. That’s true for about 60 percent of new contract advisors annually. However, a more common theme is that people who come to this business usually did it because, at some point, they crossed paths with pro athletes, came to see them as human, received some measure of respect from the athletes, and figured, ‘this doesn’t look so hard, and it would probably be fun, too.’
Maybe they coached athletes in grade school, high school or even college. Maybe they sold a couple athletes houses. Maybe they represented athletes in legal cases. In all of these situations, the would-be agent got to deal with young men in their areas of strength, and the athletes looked at them as authorities in those respective areas. Maybe the players even said, ‘you should be an agent.’ You’d be amazed how often this is part of a new agent’s story.
At any rate, these agent hopefuls didn’t have to leave their comfort zones to work with player clients. This prompted them to get certified. This is when things get hard.
Now these lawyers, or realtors, or coaches, or whatever, have to approach strangers not as the people they’ve always been, but as NFLPA-licensed contract advisors. That presents a whole new set of challenges. These players don’t see them as trustworthy, or knowledgeable, or maybe even worthy of their time. Now they have to succeed in a whole new world. I call this ‘getting through the gate.’ When they were coaching, or representing, or selling to players, they were already ‘through the gate.’ Now they have to figure out another way past the young man’s gatekeepers.
The agents that prove to be successful are able to extend themselves, to find a way to make themselves appealing to players. It doesn’t happen overnight, and even when a player signs, there’s no guarantee he’s going to stick around. These new agents have to be constantly working to improve, and often, there real-world job has little to no application in the agent world. It’s a really tough situation.
Anyway, if you’re one of those people that is taking the agent exam in five weeks, understand this. Know that it’s going to take stepping out of your comfort zone to succeed in this biz, but also know it’s been done before. And if you’d like me to help, I’d love to.