If you read this blog regularly, you know we talk a lot about the challenges and difficulties of being an NFLPA-licensed contract advisor these days. I talk to agents every day who lament the issues they face on a daily basis, and they often wonder if it’s all a waste of time.

That’s why I was really surprised to learn that at least four people — Andrew Brandt, Alexis Cobb, J.I. Halsell and Adam O’Neil — had gotten re-certified after previously spending time representing players. Given the difficulties in the business and the balkanization of the agent class, I wanted to find out what brought them back, so I reached out to them. The following is a brief overview of their experience in the industry and why they chose to return.

  • Phoenix-based Halsell surprised me when he told me he was leaving Priority Sports in 2014 and getting out of the game. He had enjoyed success, having worked for the league office in the early ’00s, followed by two years with the Redskins in their cap department and a good run with Priority, one of the better agencies. Then again, he didn’t leave the business entirely: he maintained his own salary cap website, did media appearances, and of course worked with Chargers OT Russell Okung as a consultant on two contracts. For that reason, it’s true when he says “I didn’t really completely leave the agent business. In addition to working with Okung, I consulted several certified contract advisors on contract negotiations during this time. Given that experience and the connections i’ve made during that time, it made sense for me to get recertified and use my skill set on my terms.” 
  • Pittsburgh-based Cobb dropped her certification in 2014, but like J.I., she didn’t really leave the business, instead focusing solely on coaches. She has since built up her firm, ASC Executive Group, to represent several rising college coaches, and she said she’s smarter and more established this time. “I decided to represent athletes again because I felt my coaches division . . . was strong and I didn’t need to devote all my time to it. Therefore, I could really refocus my energies on athlete representation.” Furthermore, she has “learned lessons that I can avoid when I was a young agent. Now, I can work smarter for my guys with much more understanding rather than being inexperienced.” 
  • Orlando-area attorney O’Neil got certified in 2013, but dumped his certification three years later. He said that, since then, he got a chance to strengthen his law practice, but the itch to represent NFL players never left, so he’s back. “I spent a couple years off and worked on my firm and infrastructure to put myself in a much better position . . . I never truly wanted to leave, but with the extra challenges added, I (knew I) wouldn’t stay afloat for long,” he said. “I’ve put myself in a much better position to be able to not only chase my own dream but to make sure players can continue chasing theirs.”

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