Earlier this year, I had lunch with a couple financial advisors who have been longtime friends as well as ITL clients. In the course of conversation, one of them mentioned that he’d developed a friendship with a talented young player who had bounced around at a few FBS schools.

He asked about the young man, and mentioned that he was slated to train with one of the top combine prep specialists in the business. That piqued my interest, so I called the trainer. It turned out that the young man had found the trainer and placed a call or sent an email, but was still a ways from finding someone to fund his training.

This has become pretty common. As I talk to agents across the business, I always get stories about solicitations they get from unsigned players. More and more often, these players — often the longest of long shots, sometimes no longer even draft-eligible — usually close their emails or voice mails with, “I’ve already picked out who I want to train with!” This is seen as a kind of step-saver, proof that the player is ready to hit the ground running without further ado.

Today, players see training as a given part of the agent-player relationship. This is just the latest manifestation of accelerating expectations.

As someone dedicated to helping young student-athletes realize their NFL dreams, it’s incredibly frustrating that players are getting farther and farther away from realistic goals instead of closer to them. I run a series of newsletters during the summer for draft-eligible players and their parents, and I’ve also created a series of mini-podcasts that addresses the questions I get most often.

When players reduce their whole agent selection process to which contract advisor is willing to offer training, it trivializes an agent’s role and turns the relationship into a mere business transaction. This is an absurd oversimplification, and in the end, I think this is one reason why these relationships so often become contemptuous.

If you’re a draft-eligible player reading this, I beg of you to realize that you can’t train your way into the first round. In no way am I trying to minimize the role of combine prep specialists. More often than not, they do an incredible job of sharpening a player’s athleticism and bringing out the best in a prospect. However, it’s important to understand that covering the cost of training is a major investment by a potential agent, and not something you should take for granted.

Just because a prospect can’t find an agent to cover training, that’s no reason not to go for it. And maybe it’s even better to find a contract advisor willing to go for broke for a player even if he’s not willing to go broke paying his training fees.

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