Last week, Bay Harbor Island, Fla.-based Goal Line Sports announced that it had hired former Detroit Lions executive Cedric Saunders as the firm’s new Vice President of Football Operations.
It’s an interesting hire. Goal Line Football isn’t a powerhouse agency on the level of CAA or Athletes First, but it’s no less respected. In fact, Goal Line CEO Brian Levy is among the more powerful agents in one of the fastest-growing areas of sports representation: coaches. Among his clients are Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.
I wanted to get Cedric’s thoughts on the business and the direction it’s going, especially when it comes to the slowly disappearing line between NFL personnel and contract advisors. He was kind enough to oblige. Here are a few selected answers based on the questions we had.
What kinds of things will you do for the agency? How can you help Brian expand his firm?
“I’m bringing over 17 years of experience in the NFL from being a player, scout, and front office executive. I will be helping on the operations side of the business in terms of targeting good coaches and front office personnel and growing our clientele the right way with the right people. We really want our company to stand for what the (agency) motto says: ‘Faith – Family – Football.’
“We want our clients to be successful and to feel a part of the family and know that we are all in this together. I will help with negotiating coaching contracts. I will also help on the player side as well with helping our player agents with which players to target and scout and how we can mainstream the process from an operational standpoint. I will also play a part in prepping our players for all-star games and combine interviews. Also with my background in player development, I can play a role in the (players’) long-term career goals for while they are playing and once their career is over.
“I believe my experiences in the NFL and the friends and contacts I’ve made over the years lends well to helping Brian expand our firm from a coaching standpoint and a player one, as well.”
There’s a lot of volatility in scouting and front offices, and it seems harder than ever to get hired and stay hired in the football world. What do you attribute that to?
“I believe some of the volatility can be attributed to owners getting less and less patient with keeping GMs and coaches in place if they are not producing within a three-year span and them staying consistent. They are getting more and more pressure from the fans to make changes as well (if) the team is not doing well. It use to be GMs would get a chance to at least hire two coaches, sometimes three, before the owners would start looking at them for replacement. Now it’s down to two and sometimes only one chance to hire a head coach. Bottom line, owners want results more quickly then they did in the past. Then the thing about GMs is you only get one shot at it. You can probably count on one hand how many two-time GMs there are in the league.”
In a business as competitive as pro football, changes are pretty constant. What trends in scouting, or in media, or in college football or whatever, will have the most impact on the pro football business in the next decade, in your opinion?
“I believe technology will have the most impact on the pro football business in the next decade. Look at what’s going on with the tablets on the sidelines, and now how much more analytics is playing a part in how teams are preparing. There’s also the virtual reality googles. Every year something new in technology is coming out that is supposed to give you an advantage, or makes it a little easier to get done.”