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Building a better NFL agent

National Football Post

A parent of a potential 2013 draftee, who was smart enough to sense something fishy, sent me a scouting report that came from a top agent who claimed he got it “from a top NFL team scout”. The parent didn’t tell me whom it was from and simply asked my opinion of it. The scouting report said he would be a top ten pick and will go to multiple pro bowls. It took me about thirty seconds to figure out the report was a phony as not one team in the NFL uses such a format. Just to be sure, I sent it to one current NFL scouting director and one retired director and they both quickly concurred it was a really bad phony. This is just one example of the many unprofessional shenanigans parents and players have to put up with in the recruiting process. The agent was obviously trying to show the parent that he had proprietary inside information about his son.

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Arli$$ catered to his clients' every need.

Unfortunately, the best, most capable, ethical and hard working agents don’t always get the best players. The best salesmen with the biggest promises and biggest inducements usually win the recruiting wars. Although there are very professional large agents/agencies, there is still incredible room for growth for more professionalism, ethics and hard working agents.

Here are some examples of the most popular inducements still at work in the industry:

-All expense paid trip to the Super Bowl under the guise that we will introduce you to corporate America.
-The marketing guarantee/advance: Here’s $100,000 right now against future marketing earnings that we are confident we will get for you.
-Line of credit up to 500k

Here are some of the more frequently used pitches that players can fall for:

-We represent head coaches and GMs so we are better connected to the decision-makers, which can help your draft stock.
-We have a proven formula for getting you drafted higher.
-We have the best Combine training available.

The truth of the matter is that if you take a young man who is trying to prepare for the Combine, all-star games, pro days and interviews, take him to a party at the Super Bowl for four days, give him a car and an unsupervised 6 figure line of credit, pamper him for the sake of schmoozing to win the recruiting war, you are encouraging a player to spend, get into debt and relax and start enjoying the fruits of the game while he has yet to secure a contract. I know of one midwest agent who boldly gives his recruits a blank check before signing and says, “Take as much as you want or need. That’s how much I believe in you.”

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Agents should be plugged into and have access to the scouting and front office community. Having relationships and a driect line to coaches, owners and scouts can help put some attention on lesser-known draftees. Representing those people isn’t going to help a player get drafted higher. There can be a huge conflict of interest there and that is why the NFL Players Association has a rule in place where an agent must disclose NFL management they represent. Andrew Luck’s agent didn’t have any experience or a vast network and it worked out well for him. If an agent represents quality players, he will build a network quickly.

For myself, current agents and those young and aspiring agents, there are areas where we all need to improve.

For one, we all need to become more proficient in the career exit plan, which includes benefits, injury settlements, workman’s compensation, line of duty benefits and the CBA rules which have allowed injured players to collect limited salary benefits.

Unfortunately, NFL teams work hard in limiting their exposure to players who may be eligible for these benefits so we have to work harder to make sure our clients get what they deserve.

Two, agents should take a more proactive role in identifying the signs associated with players in a social off field spiral. Those players who are spending too much, partying too much and allowing the wrong people or professionals to poorly influence them need more hand holding the others. Agents need to tell players what they need to hear not want they want to hear.

Three, in a recent conversation with a Union executive I was told that, "current agents do a poor job in keeping the union informed during ongoing negotiations". The problem here is that one bad contract can cause a huge ripple effect for other players at the same position or on the same team. In addition, we have to continuously fight for better language on guaranteed portions of contracts.

On July 20, 208 applicants sat for the open book agent exam. The pass rate is about 70%, not very good for an open book test. However, about 140 new NFL agents will be born, adding to the list of 640 already currently certified. I hope we are continuously attracting a better pedigree of professionals with high moral fiber who really care about the well being of those who sacrifice their bodies and give all they have to entertain us every Sunday.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta

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This story originally appeared on Nationalfootballpost.com
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