Wednesday, an old friend in the business reached out about the son of a friend who’s getting into player representation. “Since the area of NIL and being a player agent is out of my comfort zone, I knew you could provide a link or two for third party guidance,” he wrote. “I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I know you are the best in this area.”
I didn’t have any ready links to send him, and I felt a little bad about that. But since it’s Thanksgiving, I thought I’d give back a little. Having worked with and watched agents make mistakes for more than two decades, here are the three biggest mistakes agents commonly make.
“The contacts I have are enough to make me successful.” I’d say about a third of every agent class enters the business with no contacts. It happens, but it’s rare. Most new agents have an ex-roommate, a friend, a family member or someone else at a key school or NFL team, and that person has promised to help him. i’d even say that more than half have been told by a draft-eligible player, “if you get certified, I’ll sign with you.” It rarely happens, though. The truth is, you have to commit to making a slew of contacts AFTER you get certified, or you’re dead in the water. You have no chance otherwise.
“Negotiating is the most important part of my job.” This is the big takeaway that most sport management programs drill into their students for four years (and maybe two more if the student is dumb enough to pursue a master’s). The truth is, since the 2011 CBA was approved, a rookie deal is cut and dried. Unless you have a player signed as an undrafted free agent, negotiation is not really something a young agent has to have in his bag. It will be a long time before you’re sitting across the table from an NFL executive, angrily haggling over dollars and deals.
“I can do this without spending much money.” I have a wealth manager who is like the Michael Jordan of investment. He is highly accomplished in his field. About 10 years ago, he became part of the ITL family. I kinda rolled my eyes, thinking this was a flight of fancy for a man who’s successful but bored. His first year was pretty much right out of the “how to be an NFL financial advisor” annual. With my guidance, he dutifully attended the top all-star games, handed out his literature to the players, and bought dinners for friendly but usually lightly regarded agents. After a couple years of doing that, he had zero clients. However, he stuck with it, and like anyone who’s smart and pays his dues, he has built a decent practice. But that took 10 years and who knows how much money, not to mention time? He was willing to make the commitment, but even then, it wasn’t easy.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and if you’re part of the ITL family, that is especially true. If you aren’t, and you want to be, I’m eager to start working with you. Don’t want to commit yet? At least sign up for our newsletter.
Have a great day with your family, and enjoy the games.