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Getting through the back door

Bucs hire a real estate professional. Really. Jack Bechta

Print This July 09, 2009, 09:00 AM EST

In my last two columns, I shared my path for breaking into the agent business and offered some insight on choosing law school or grad school. For those who are considering a career working in sports and have no intention of going to law or grad school, there is hope.

What you have to do is play to your strengths and think outside the box because there are those in positions of power who will do the same.

For example, when first-year GM Mark Dominik of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost his ace salary cap manager, Kevin Demoff, to the Rams, he had to hit the streets for a replacement. The replacement would have the title of director of football administration in charge of the team’s salary cap, budgets and expenses related to different departments such as equipment, training and travel.

I’m not sure how Mark handled the search and interview process, but he had several options available to him, including former cap managers from other teams, current interns with his team and others and a pool of talented young attorneys currently working the summer at the NFL management counsel.

So whom did he hire? A real estate professional named Digger Daley.

That’s right, he plucked somebody out of the real estate business who was doing transactional deals in the $1-million to $200-million range. He hired someone with whom he had a long-term personal history, an individual he trusts and respects. Digger has never been to law school or grad school, nor has he ever worked with a professional sports team. He has his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Cincinnati (side note: there are probably more people working in the NFL from a MAC school than any other conference), worked in sales after college and eventually bought, sold and managed real estate portfolios for the past six years.

I get this hire, and I like it because the Bucs now have an individual who’s used to making multi-million dollar deals, is sensitive to needs of his owners and the agents and is better prepared with real experiences to help manage a team’s ever-changing finances. Having to place values on properties is similar to placing values on players. Dealing with player agents isn’t too far removed from dealing with real estate agents.

So for those who want to work in sports but may not have the money or time for law school or grad school, have faith that your experiences in sales, real estate, marketing, accounting or finance may prepare you well for a job as agent, salary cap manager or a marketing rep for a professional sports team.

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