I have been lied to, deceived, used, humiliated, and have sacrificed a lot of my personal time and interest to serve others who play and coach the game. MOST AGENTS HAVE! Even as the skin grows thicker over time the agent business can be emotionally, physically and mentally painful. However, I have had a re-appreciation for my career over the last few years. Yes, it’s a cutthroat field, highly competitive, full of egos on all sides, and can be highly stressful and very demanding. It’s a career where the switch always has to be, “on”.
Caution: If you ever thought about becoming an agent please read my five worst things about the job. It is hard work but it is also extremely rewarding. Here’s why:
1) It keeps you close to the game: I grew up playing and watching football. Our family had Eagles season tickets for 20 years at the Vet. It was the sport that changed my life, made me a champion and gave me an incentive to go to college. It paid for school, gave me priceless experiences and eternal friendships. When I finished playing, I realized for the first time in my life that football was now relegated to being just a spectator sport. I couldn’t stand it! It was painful not to be a part of it. My desire to keep it as part of my life is what motivated me to become an agent.
Being an agent can keep you extremely close to the game. And I mean really close! Yes, from a physical standpoint we get access to coaches, GMs and owners. We get to talk to front office execs every day and the players who play the game. I, like most active agents, know who is really hurt, whose locker rooms have chemistry, which coaches and GMs are jerks and which ones are winners. We know which owners are passionate about winning and those who just care about their net income. As an agent, you find yourself rooting for Coaches and GMs who you respect, befriending other players you don’t represent and even fan bases that left a positive personal impression on you (I’m talking to you Packers’ fans). Sometimes you know too much and you find yourself watching a game just hoping your client doesn’t get hurt. But if you love and respect the game, you can't help but feel apart of it.
Pre-game access to the sidelines is always a perk.
2) Access: I have always been curious of and appreciative of all the aspects of a team from ownership structure to the equipment guy. It’s not unusual for agents to get to know different professionals within an organization. And even those who work on the peripheral side such as in apparel, equipment, supplements and/or training. The more people you know in any industry the deeper the access you may obtain. The real fun is getting access to the people of the game. Listening to Bill Parcells tell a gut busting story about one of your clients, mutually planning a client’s career with Belichick, talking marketing strategies with Jerry Jones, getting a hug from Al Davis after beating the Broncos and/or sitting front row at a Cubs game with a GM you like is all a reality in the agent business.
And yes, getting access to great seats, super bowls, locker rooms, sideline passes, Nike gear, Pro Bowls in Hawaii and the best of whatever city your clients are in has to offer, is easily accessible for a well connected agent.
3) Travel and experiences: I have been to 27 of the 32 venues in the league to see my players play. In addition, I have been to many college campuses over the years while recruiting new clients. To get to experience college and pro football in all its glory is the best. There’s nothing like a good flyover to make me forget that I am working and start enjoying the atmosphere of the city, the stadium and the game. Watching Iowa fans color coordinate the stadium, Michigan State Frats throw some creative tailgates (discovering a shark bowl the hard way), Breakfast Club in action at Purdue, experiencing the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry, jumping up and down after a score in Madison, and understanding why Cal and Stanford hate each other, are all amazing experiences that I discovered while working. On the pro side, getting to Lambeau field and experiencing the NFL’s nicest fans, and discovering the best that many of our cities have to offer is fulfilling on so many levels.
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4) Making a difference: One of the best things about being an agent is making a difference in someone’s life where you get a front row seat for their progress. Whether it's helping a client with life skills, helping them choose the right team to go to as a free agent or the right doctor for a career saving operation. Contrary to popular belief, many agents are in this business for all the right reasons; to make a difference in a young man’s life. To watch a client you helped succeed on the field is electric. To help guide and watch him be successful off the field is soulfully gratifying. I personally love and enjoy the negotiating side of the business. I love the art of the deal, the strategy, and the process of it is my game week. However, when I am doing a deal with the purpose and passion that my client deserves the best (aka top monies and security in guarantees), it’s a powerful and driving force that provides years of satisfaction once the deal is done.
5) Relationships: When someone trusts you with their career you can become pretty close with them, especially if you make the right decisions with them. I, like many agents have stood in weddings for clients, vacationed with them and share my life openly. If you work hard for your clients, you are and were always honest with them and you go through some tough times together, enduring relationships will evolve into seamless lifetime friendships. My former clients know they can call me any time, stay at my house or condos and get my advice on just about anything. It’s like that for many agents who are doing it the right way.
A few years ago, I probably would have included “a nice income” on this list, but with the new CBA, our fees now capped at 3% and our training and overhead costs continually rising, the income isn’t what it used to be. However, nobody should be complaining. There’s a saying that goes; “if you love what you are doing you will never work a day in your life”. Even when some of the difficult parts of this business try to drag you down, for me, all I have to do is pick up the phone and talk to my clients and everything becomes fulfilling in an instant.
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This story originally appeared on Nationalfootballpost.com
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