Friday is the last day you can apply to take the 2021 NFLPA agent exam, so I’m starting to hear from more and more aspiring contract advisors. After so many impactful developments over the past year, I thought now was a good time to make a few points on the industry.
- Don’t take anything for granted: I’ve been doing this long enough to know that most people come into the industry believing they’ve already got a commitment from an NFL talent, and that signing their first client will be easy. All I have to say is, make sure you have a Plan B. That player you helped raise, or coached in youth football, or who has been relying on you for the past several years . . . well, as he gets closer to realizing a lifelong dream, he may become less willing to put his goals in the hands of a novice. Don’t take that personally. Just be prepared for it.
- Making relationships will be harder than ever: Under perfect, pre-Covid conditions, connecting with a young player was difficult. Now that players and their parents (and maybe even you) are less inclined to meet one on one, the personal link that is vital to winning a player’s trust is ever more elusive. That doesn’t even factor in something else that’s more important than ever, which is . . . .
- Players just expect a “package” these days: Last week, a longtime agent friend texted me about a recently signed client — one who is barely on the fringes of even being an NFL prospect — who sent him a late-night text asking if he was supposed to get money simply for signing with his firm. NFL Draft coverage, locker-room talk and friends and family often create outsized expectations for players. Congratulations! You get to unwind and reset those expectations if you expect to sign a player who (a) has NFL ability and (b) doesn’t drive you crazy before the last weekend of April, 2022.
- You can’t do this on the cheap: Actually, I guess that’s not true if your goal is simply to achieve NFLPA certification. Shoot, there are a lot of players who really only want the status that comes from signing with an agent so they can splash it all over their social media and brag to their friends. However, if you’ve gone to the trouble to spend $2,500 you can’t get back to take a test that you’ll probably fail (55 percent of test-takers do every year), you probably want to succeed. You’re going to need to set a budget and stick to it, and that starts with knowing what’s smart and what’s not.
- Knowledge is power: The most common mistake I see from young agents is thinking they know more than they do. I don’t care if you’ve got a degree from an established sport management program, and I don’t care if you were captain of the football team in high school. There are relationships, opportunities and potential signees you will miss out on unless you approach this business humbly. And if you don’t, you’ll find it humbles you anyway despite your best efforts.
We can definitely help with the last point. It starts with our agent exam prep materials — our study guide and practice exams A and B — but it doesn’t end there. Our daily emails, which start in November and go all the way through the draft, have become must-read material for rookie agents who subscribe. We also have former NFL scouts who can write a report to tell you if a prospect can actually play (for just $100); we have a book on the NFL draft process and a book on the NFL scouting profession that are reasonably priced and focused on the information you need to know; and a weekly email that encapsulates the industry every Friday (you can register for it here).
We hope to work for (and with) you. Best of luck on the exam, whether or not we cross paths in the next five months.