Before we go further with J.I. Halsell’s place in the football business and his new website, NFL Contract Metrics, I wanted to let him tell the story of how he got his foot in the football door. I’ll let him tell it, then have a few comments to follow:

“When I was in my first semester at Seton Hall (where I was pursuing my MBA), I worked in the sports information office, and the assistant SID there, his good friend from his time as an undergrad worked with the NFL’s Management Council. I’m a stats guy, so working in sports information was great because I worked with the basketball team the entire semester.

“So the assistant SID noticed my work ethic, and his buddy (with the Management Council) was looking for an intern. I reached out on a Friday, interviewed on Monday, and got the offer to intern on Tuesday. I turned a three-month internship over the summer into two years with the league.

“It was a paid internship, but it’s New York City, which is super-expensive. But it was a paid internship. Harold Henderson was head of the Management Council at the time, and it was important to him that the interns on the Management Council and the legal clerks on the labor law side, the internships were paid. It didn’t pay a lot, but it was better than nothing.

“I lived in North Jersey, right across from Manhattan, me and one of the other interns. We all kind of lived in a house, and I paid a ton of money to live in a room that ‘s about the size of a walk-in closet, but it was great. My son’s godfather, I met him there, and it was a good time in my life. You’re in your mid-20s, you’re in New York City, you’re working in sports, and it was a fun time in life and transformational in the information I was acquiring.”

Here are a few thoughts on J.I.’s climb:

  • J.I. was working on his post-graduate degree, but still willing to work for free on a job that had long hours and not a lot of glory. Not everyone is willing to do that.
  • What’s more, he was working in basketball, but he was still able to parlay it into football. Get your foot in the door with one sport, and sometimes it takes you into another one.
  • Seton Hall isn’t exactly known as a football factory, but because he put himself in position to succeed, he happened to find a guy who knew another guy. He made his own breaks.
  • J.I. probably wondered how he’d make his situation work, given the low pay and the fact that he most likely already had a life plan mapped out. But he took a risk and it paid off big.
  • There were probably friends J.I. had from high school, and even from college, who were already out in the world, starting to make real money when he was working for peanuts at the Management Council with no guarantees and no promises. But because he went for it, it paid off. It’s hard not to root for a person like that.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about his experiences with the ‘Skins for WSW.