Today was an interesting day. The Super Bowl came to my city this year, and that’s special for me as the ‘big game’ has never been part of my January/February schedule. I spent Thursday downtown getting a look at the landscape, just trying to get a better handle on what the festivities surrounding the game look like. Here are a few observations.
- I watched the people who buy and flip Super Bowl tickets for several hours today. Quite a high-wire act. This morning, ticket prices were in free-fall, and vendors were looking for a soft landing spot for anything they had in their inventory. By this afternoon/evening, ticket were revving up again as many of the high-end ticket services were panicked and afraid the tickets they had already committed to filling might not be there. As I understand it, the league could release a huge block of tickets at any time that could once again drop prices. Hold your tickets too long, you could lose thousands of dollars. Hold them even longer, and maybe the prices rebound and you make thousands.
- By the way, this week players from selected teams (different teams deliver their tickets in different ways) could pick up their tickets at a downtown hotel. Ticket people know this, and about 20 of them hung around outside the hotel. Pretty much, whenever an athletic-looking man in his 20s came anywhere near the hotel, he was mobbed by people wearing backpacks. Sometimes, they’d pull a wad of cash from the backpacks, count out a sum of money, and trade it for a pair, right there on the sidewalk. Today, I saw a player who had already struck a verbal deal with one broker take a different deal with someone who approached him on the sidewalk. Just like that.
- If you’re a person aspiring to work in the league, you could do worse than to be here in Houston. At the Hilton downtown, where the media are staying, I saw young people with business cards they’d made up handing them out to the agents, business managers and other league-affiliated professionals in the lobby. Not a bad move. Here’s another place to be: at any bar near the downtown party locations for EA Sports, ESPN, the NFLPA, or any other big event. Very often, the VIPs spill out of the parties to have a drink at the nearby establishments. It’s just one more place to maybe make a connection.
- By the way, if you’re into celebrity-watching, you could have done worse than to be at the Hilton this afternoon. In about two hours, I saw Dave Wannstedt, Morten Andersen, Boomer Esiason, Michael Strahan and Mike Greenberg of ESPN’s ‘Mike and Mike.’
- Downtown was crawling with volunteers from the city who were handing out pro-Falcons or pro-Patriots handbills, giving directions, or holding props for tourists to use in selfies. They were all smiling, friendly, clearly excited to be a part of things. I know they didn’t get paid, and don’t get tickets or anything like that. I’m pretty sure all they get to do is say they volunteered with the Super Bowl effort. It’s amazing how much the NFL delivers excitement, electricity, and yes, even status to people freely giving their time and energy on a workday.
- During a casual conversation I had with a fellow I met today, we discussed the life of a recruiter attached to a big agency. My friend was of the impression that recruiters for major agencies make millions of dollars. That’s a common misconception. He was pretty surprised when I told him a typical recruiter is lucky if he’s making a base of around $40,000-$50,000 plus expenses. And I mean, that’s a recruiter who’s really lucky. Most agencies these days will work with a younger agent (or unlicensed recruiter) strictly on an eat-what-you-kill basis. If he makes anything north of $20,000 and gets his expenses covered — plus gets to live The Life — he has to count himself extraordinarily lucky.