Earlier this week, Philadelphia-based Casey Muir of Octagon Football texted me this: “Btw, if you ever need an agent to give advice to new agents on Succeed in Football, just lmk.” If this was just a throwaway line that he expected me to forget, big mistake. I immediately commissioned a blog post from him on how to succeed in football as an independent contract advisor.
There are few people more qualified to write this. Casey is with Octagon now, but he wasn’t always with a big firm. I remember the early years with Casey. He became an ITL client in his first year as a contract advisor, and there are so many stories of his long-ago trials that I can remember.
Now we can laugh about them. In an incredibly short period (he was certified in 2012), he’s gone from eager but youthful to seasoned and respected. I’ve recommended him to multiple big-name firms in the past 3-4 years before, ironically, he finally did land with an established agency with no help from me. In his first year as Director of Football at Octagon, the firm got back into the first round (UCLA OT Kolton Miller went 1/15 to the Raiders) for the first time since 2014, and had four draftees. The firm had just one draftee, a third-rounder, in 2017.
This time of year, with so many aspiring contract advisors prepping for next month’s NFLPA exam in Washington, D.C. – many of them using our study guide and/or practice test – I thought it would be a great time to get some sage advice from a person who’s made it where they hope to be. With that said, I’ll turn it over to Casey.
So, you want to succeed in football as a NFL agent? Get ready for an uphill battle.
Like the overwhelming majority of new agents, I wasn’t fortunate enough to start my career at a major agency. I think most people enter this business simply because it seems like a fun way to make a living and they jump right in, with zero contacts, no clue what it really takes and, worst of all, no plan.
So what does it really take to succeed? I think it’s important to point out that everyone’s definition of success is different. My personal definition of success is always evolving and I am constantly pushing that bar higher and higher, so if I ever finally get there, I’ll let you know. For now, the best I can do is tell you what I’ve experienced and give you a few thoughts on what it may take you to achieve your definition of success in this business.
- First, have a plan. My plan was always longevity. I’ve seen countless agents who started at the same time as me, and many who started after, leave the business because they made too many bad business decisions. My thought was always, ‘live to fight another day.’ In my mind, the longer you stay in this business, the more time you have to work on your craft and the greater chance you have of finally breaking through. With that in mind, never forget this is a business. There are only so many hours in the day and so much money in your bank account. You have to make sound business decisions on which players you spend time recruiting and which players you spend your training budget on. If you don’t truly believe a player has a legitimate shot at the next level, don’t waste significant time/money on the player just so you can “play” agent. Live to fight another day.
- Second, remember that like most things in life, this business is ‘Relationship and Sales 101.’ How can you connect with each individual player? What can you do to differentiate yourself from every other agent a player meets with? Additional legal services? Marketing expertise? Tax services? Personal attention? Whatever it may be that helps you connect and sets you apart, figure it out, package it and drive that point home.
- The best and final piece of advice I can give you is this: You have to want it. I mean really WANT it. The road to success in this business is a long and winding one, and it will not happen overnight. In the beginning, there will be an overwhelming amount of failure and rejection. So much so that you may begin to hear the word ‘no’ in your sleep. You also likely won’t make much money in this business for at least a few years. You will question yourself. Your family and friends will wonder aloud if you’re wasting your time. There will be plenty of times when you want to quit. Do you want it bad enough to fight through the rejection? Are you self-aware enough to learn from the many mistakes you will inevitably make? Do you want it bad enough to work a full-time job, while also spending full-time hours as an agent? Are you willing to put in the early mornings and late nights? Are you willing to give up weekend fun with friends and family? Do you want it bad enough to not quit, despite all the signs clearly pointing you toward the exit?
I can’t give you the exact roadmap to success because there isn’t one. Success in the agent business takes patience, passion, perseverance, mental toughness, self-confidence and a work ethic that won’t quit. Based on my experience, if you can handle everything I mentioned above, then you can find a way to make it. Above all else, always remember, recruit, recruit, recruit, because when you aren’t, I am. Good luck.