Today, I got contacted through Twitter by a player who hoped to be on a 53-man roster this week. We met because he played in one of the all-star games during the ’15 draft cycle, and we’ve become friendly since. I like him and was glad to hear from him. Anyway, he asked me a few tips about finding a new agent.
This is a pretty regular occurrence, and this won’t be the last message I get this week from players frustrated with their circumstances. It’s even possible that this young man’s agent did a lousy job, but I think there are a few things that need to be said when this situation arises.
- Players aren’t rejected by the NFL because they had a bad agent. Obviously, there’s no way and no how an NFL team was going to overlook the players drafted in the first round last spring, no matter how bad their representation.
- Most of the time, players get extra chances because they had an agent. Agents get players into all-star games; call teams in March, begging scouts to attend out-of-the-way pro days; beg teams again after the draft, hoping to get their players undrafted free agent deals; and often call all summer, begging teams to take one more look.
- If your agent didn’t do a lot of begging, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not a good agent. It just might mean that he came to the conclusion you’re not NFL timber. That doesn’t make you a bad player, or a bad person. It just means you’re not in the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent of football players.
- If you’re frustrated because you’re not in the league, think about how frustrated he is. No. 1, there’s an excellent chance he came out of pocket for thousands of dollars to get you ready for this day. No. 2, he thought you could play or he wouldn’t have signed you, and he’s been proven wrong. No. 3, it’s really frustrating to be told, time after time, that the team is “full,” or just getting no call back at all, or plainly told “don’t call back.” All of these are regular responses from agents calling, hoping for a chance for a client. It’s pretty soul-crushing.
- Contrary to popular belief, the CFL is not automatic if you don’t play in the NFL. Shoot, even the Arena League isn’t automatic. You need slightly different skill sets for each of those leagues. Sometimes — very rarely — a player lacks the skill sets for those leagues, but is a better fit for the NFL.
- The NFL just came off its most intensive period of player evaluation. Making cuts from 90 to 75 isn’t easy, and making cuts from 75 to 53 can be positively painful. There will be many players cut this weekend that wind up having two- to three-year NFL careers, either active or on the practice squad. The point is, those players cut this weekend are pretty much the next call for a team with injuries. If you didn’t spend the last six weeks in camp — and I don’t mean this in a bad way — you probably aren’t getting an NFL job.
If this post spoke to you, and is pretty accurate to your situation, I don’t want you to be discouraged or give up. I only want you to understand the odds against you. That’s the only reason I write this. I want everyone to succeed in football; shoot, that’s our motto. But not everyone can, and that doesn’t make you a bad person.