For a number of reasons, January is my favorite month, because it takes me to “my people,” the agents, scouts, administrators, game volunteers and officials, wealth managers, players, coaches and even parents who make up the game. I never learn more about the business of the game than I do the first 31 days of the year. There’s just no substitute for being there.
Here are a few thoughts and observations from my first week on the road.
- I think negotiating is something that most people find exciting. However, it’s important to understand when you have no leverage. Players in all-star games that are not the Senior Bowl do not have a lot of leverage. They need every practice — shoot, every rep — they can get to prove they are worthy of a UDFA deal. Unfortunately, too many players aren’t getting this message. That’s why it was so satisfying to get this text Wednesday, the last day of workouts at the College Gridiron Showcase: “Loved seeing your post about guys that are advised to sit out the last day. I actually had two teams text me about one of my guys today after he had a great day!” Lots of kids missed an opportunity Wednesday.
- It’s always fascinating to me the quarterbacks the Packers have carried on their training camp rosters, but ultimately cut or shipped off. They include Taysom Hill, Mark Brunell, and, of course, Kurt Warner. But how is it the team continually finds out-of-the-way passers who have NFL ability? I was told this week that the team has a rule: whenever a scout comes across a four-year starter, he automatically “writes him,” i.e., evaluates the player with a formal report. In a league that is increasingly driven by stats and hard numbers, simply being a good quarterback sometimes gets lost in the shuffle by some. But not Green Bay.
- It’s no surprise that Cleveland-based Klutch Sports Group is having an immediate impact in its first year as a football agency. No. 1, of course, is the work of Damarious Bilbo, one of the 4-5 best recruiters in the business. However, I think you can also credit Klutch’s success to the players the firm is recruiting: big-name athletes from big-name programs (Ohio State and others). More and more, the modern player sees himself not just as an athlete but as a major media figure, almost from the moment he becomes draft-eligible (and in some cases, from the moment he is recruited). It only makes sense that such a player would seek out representation from a company headed by someone he aspires to be.
- On a related topic, the runaway new must-have feature for all NFL agencies recruiting top-100 prospects is a crackerjack graphic designer. I touched on the impact graphics professionals are having in the college game earlier this fall. This is the first year that the phenomenon has fully evolved into the college-to-pro arena.
I’ll be in Daytona Beach (Tropical Bowl) and St. Petersburg (Shrine Bowl) this weekend and next week as I complete my Florida leg of the trip. More to come. Don’t forget to subscribe to our Friday Wrap, which comes out this evening at 6:30 p.m. CST. Do that here.