We’re about a week and change away from the 2018 NFLPA Exam for new agents in Washington, D.C. For the past month, we’ve been talking to some of the fastest-rising young agents in the business for a fresh take on what new contract advisors can do to achieve success.

Today we talk to Shane Costa of Buffalo, NY-based Pillar Sports. Shane comes from the team side, having worked for the Bills from a young age before pursuing his law license and moving back into the game. Like the other agents I’ve spoken to in this space over the past four weeks, Casey Muir and Greg ‘Tripp’ Linton, I could see Shane as a future GM, or as a mega-agent some day.

Here are Shane’s thoughts on what steps a young player rep can do to achieve lasting success.

  • “First thing I would say is, become an expert. It’s not enough to just have a passing knowledge of the CBA and the relevant rules and bylaws to pass the exam, but you really have to become an expert at it. Read the CBA, take notes, try to become an expert even before you have clients. You want to study it and become more knowledgeable to increase your chances of success. The more you know, the more you’re gonna be prepared to educate your player, and that’s gonna be apparent when you talk to players. If you don’t come from a football background, you really need to get a full grasp of the intricacies of the CBA. You’ll be better able to communicate that knowledge to your client so you can sign him. I’d also recommend you sign up for Inside the League. It’s so valuable when it comes to learning about the league and understanding the profession. It’s crucial to use that service.
  • “Second, communicating and setting expectations is critical to keeping and retaining your clients. In this job, you have to be an excellent communicator, not just with the client and his parents, but with teams, scouts, executives and media when necessary. You have to be able to understand and effectively communicate what you’re trying to extract or to provide. You’ve got to know when to talk to scouts and what you can ask, and that allows you to understand where your player fits. Once you understand that, you have to be able to create reasonable expectations. As an agent, you always want to be honest with hour client with where they stand with teams. You have to understand what teams think about your client, and that’s not always an easy thing to say when recruiting, but it’s so important. You can tell potential clients, ‘if you have a plan and do XYZ, there’s a good chance you get drafted.’ It allows you to build a plan with a player and also have him get his expectations straight. If you always communicate with teams effectively and with players effectively and set their expectations, you’ll have a much better grasp and understanding and relationship with your client.”
  • “My last point, and I think this is really important, is to balance your emotions. When you start out, you’re gonna have a lot of setbacks and good things happen, but in your first year, you’ll probably have more setbacks and rejection and players cut than players achieving success. You work so hard for them and become so attached to their outcome that it’s hard not to feel that. Don’t get too high or too low. Just be ready with a plan, and don’t get down on yourself, and at the same time, when you have success, enjoy it briefly but understand that there’s more work to be done.”