Tell me about your lifestyle.
Like any field, the agent business has its share of partiers, alcoholics, egomaniacs, and those who are just along for the ride to garner status. The agent business is a lighthouse for individuals who want to be in the spot light and use their clients to do so. This isn’t always a bad thing but it usually results in the agent putting their own best interest before their clients.
I would ask an agent how often they drink and to what degree? Do they use drugs or smoke weed (this may be a plus for a few players)? Do they go to the clubs with their players? I would ask what kind of car they drive and how much they paid for it. You can usually find out a lot about some one by what they drive.
An agent can be an impactful positive or negative influence on a young man. I would want my son’s agent to have solid values and be a positive influence. In addition, because of all the mingling that goes on at the all-star games and combines, NFL front office execs get a good feel for whom an agent really is. They sense who has integrity and who doesn’t. That perception/opinion can carry weight when evaluating a player, shaping a roster or doing a contract. As one GM put it to me years ago, “we can get a sense of a player’s values by seeing whom the agent is that he selected”.
What is the plan if something goes wrong?
The odds are that more will go wrong with a player’s career than will go right. The truth is that when a client is performing at a high level, on a good team and has been healthy, our job as an agent is at its easiest. It’s when players get released, are playing for bad organizations and are injured is when an agent’s skills and time are needed most. However, nobody really likes hearing these conversations. When an agent talks too much about all the down sides of the business, players seem to be instantly turned off. It’s because they are young, mostly naive, feel invincible and want to focus on the best scenarios that the draft and an NFL career can offer.
I would ask an agent how, why and when they would ever pursue a trade or a hold-old (the ability to hold out now under the new CBA is limited) and what is their procedure for doing so. I would also ask them about their knowledge of workman’s compensation, injury settlements and try to get a sense of their ability to stand up to any NFL organization when their client is being mistreated by the front office, coaching staff and or trainers.
An NFL career is an amazing opportunity that can evaporate at any moment with an injury, because of a bad decision and/or lack of preparation. The money made can also be squandered, as is consistently done by the majority of NFL players. A good agent who does the hard work when nobody is looking, is willing to spend time to educate his clients, is there for a lifetime - not just the good seasons, can make a huge difference in a players life both professionally and personally. So for all those involved in the agent selection process, do your homework, take your time and ask the hard questions.
Folow me on Twitter: @jackbechta
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