The 60 days from about Thanksgiving to the Senior Bowl are the busiest ‘behind the scenes’ times of the football business, or at least, they are for me and most ITL clients. It’s also when I spend most of my time on the road, hopping from all-star game to all-star game.

It’s a wild and crazy time when my wife and kids rarely see me, but it’s also the time when I get to see ‘my people,’ face to face. When you run a business like mine, you spend hours texting, emailing and talking on the phone with people, but you never see their faces unless it’s on a Facebook post. There’s still value in meeting with people, shaking hands, and talking shop.

Of course, there’s very little time to waste, so I try not to spend a lot of time on small talk. Here are a few questions I’ll be asking my contacts and colleagues over the next few weeks.

Three percent? 1.5 percent? Something else?: As you know, if you read this blog, we’ve spent a lot of time on the new SRA, which defaults to a 1.5 percent agent fee unless otherwise marked. There was a pretty high level of interest (and worry) on the part of agents when the NFLPA released the new SRA with these standards set. Were these worries warranted? Are players willing to pay 3 percent? Are they demanding training be paid in return for paying 3 percent? Do they even have any idea about the 3 percent vs. 1.5 percent issue?

How small is too small? What off-the-field matter makes a player too hot to touch?: I’m not sure anyone can answer these questions, but 14 years after launching ITL, I’m still asking them. What makes one player with high production but size limitations a first-rounder, but another with almost exactly the same production and dimensions undraftable? I started a text conversation with an ex-NFL player a few weeks back regarding this question, and it got so detailed that I asked him to postpone it, with hopes that we’ll have time to expand on it at the combine or somewhere else on the all-star trail. Maybe the truth is out there. Ultimately, I think the answer lies in what’s ‘safe’ and defensible in scouting circles. My guess is that it’s got a lot to do with the media, and how much criticism a team will get or not get if it violates the scouting ‘book.’ Could the media and public perception really have that kind of impact on player evaluation? if so, it means analytics deserve much wider use in football circles, at least to me. But I don’t want to fall back on convenient solutions if there’s something concrete that I’m missing.

Anyway, if these questions interest you, I’ll be on a fact-finding mission over the next month-plus, and I’ll try to bring my findings back to this space. I hope you’ll check it out. And if you have your own ideas on these topics, please, fill me in via the comments section.

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