I was having a conversation with James Jefferson, a longtime friend who’s a former NFL scout as well as longtime NFL defensive back, last week. James will have a special role in preparing Clemson DC Mackensie Alexander for the combine and his pro day, and I helped arrange it through Inside the League. Anyway, we were commiserating about a few things related to the game, and he said something that really stuck with me.

“My girl is always telling me I don’t charge enough for what I do, that I don’t value myself the way I should, and that I’m worth more,” he said. “It’s hard to explain to her.”

Amen, I told him. I have the same conversation with my wife, I told him. Then we had a discussion about how hard it is to truly put a value on what we do in the game.

Here’s James, a guy whose life a lot of guys would give up a limb to have. Came out of a small school in deep South Texas, beating the odds (he had to go to the CFL before the NFL would have him), then enjoying a lengthy NFL career before becoming an NFL scout for several more years, then a college coach. Still, he struggles to put a price on the talents and experience he brings to the table.

I see it everywhere. I’m often approached by first-year agents who want to get hired by bigger firms. They’ve never signed a top-level player before, and in some cases haven’t signed anyone at all, yet they feel they can demand $80,000 with benefits because they work hard and hustle. When they come to me, it’s hard to explain that they’re off the mark.

To some degree, I have the same problem. What we provide through ITL is unique, and in some quarters, truly desired and valuable. But we have to be very careful with pricing for a couple reasons.

One, in this game, you deal with a lot of fragile egos. If you charge too much for a service, some folks in this business will take the ‘I don’t need you’ approach. We get that a lot.

On the other hand, for many others, this is a vanity profession. Charge too much, and they say, hey, this is a glorified hobby for me. I may not even be successful with it. I’m only spending so much.

If you’re aspiring to be in the world of football, I think this is important to understand. No matter how hard you work, no matter how loyal you’ll be, no matter how badly you want it, there are hundreds of people a lot like you. Don’t overplay your hand. I’ve been in this business almost 20 years, and I’m still fighting that battle every day.

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