Last week, we discussed our new series of posts written with new agents in mind. Let’s open this week’s blog with a couple quick points and/or anecdotes.

  • Last night I was in a bar in downtown Indianapolis with about 500 people. There were two head coaches; dozens of scouts and NFL execs; about the same number of agents; a heavy, heavy dose of NFL Network people and writers; and several other people in marketing and finance related to the game. Why were they all there, besides the obvious alcohol-related and social reasons? Because everyone there had something that everyone else wanted. Specifically, information.
  • I’ve spent a lot of this week talking with scouts and executives about a project I’m working on. Along the way, it’s given me a chance to talk about the nature of climbing the NFL ladder, getting bigger and better jobs, and the like. To a man, everyone has discussed the role the media plays in getting recognized, and the difficulty of charming ‘the snake’ without getting wrapped in it.
  • About 10 years ago, I had a conversation with an agent who’s pretty big now. He was really despondent because he hadn’t developed relationships with scouts, and therefore was getting shut out of information he needed to find and sign good players. Over the years, for a number of reasons, he came into a much better class of signees, and voila! Suddenly he had so many contacts in scouting and evaluation that, well, he’s not so despondent anymore.

What I’m trying to say is that rarely does anyone in the football business (or maybe any business) do anything as a favor. Scouts only talk to agents if the agents have players that interest them. Front office executives only give tips to the media if they’ll make them look good in print. Those executives usually only get their jobs if they can make the people hiring them look good. One hand washes the other, over and over.

The point is, no matter how nice a guy you are, or how qualified or whatever, unless you’ve got significant leverage, it’s very hard to become successful in this business over night. Shoot, it’s why so many talented people try hard to build a place in the game but fail.

You can graduate from the finest schools in America with a 4.0 in sport management, and it doesn’t really matter. You can sign players and give them everything they ask for, but it won’t really matter. In fact, you can be really nice, and honest, and hard-working, and it doesn’t matter. All that matters is being able to provide something to others that they need. That’s the cold, dog-eat-dog nature of this business, and I think it’s something you have to know going in, whether you want to be an agent, a scout, a coach or a player.

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