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Prepping the draftees

Having the right expectations and setting goals can help the transition into the NFL. Jack Bechta

Print This April 15, 2010, 05:50 PM EST

This weekend, I have a few of my new clients coming to San Diego for a weekend orientation. The purpose of the gathering is to get some face time and make sure their expectations are set correctly for next week’s draft. Additionally, we’ll cover topics such as goal setting, fiduciary basics and develop a year one plan.

Here’s a peek at what I do -- and I’m sure other agents do -- to help their clients.

Setting proper expectations: A well-connected agent will have a good handle on “when” his client will be drafted, although not necessarily “where.” My job is to set proper expectations for a player and his family. I do this by tapping into my NFL network and asking for a prediction of where my clients will go. NFL decision-makers love to make predictions, and they can’t help themselves when I ask. After quizzing 10 teams or more, I usually have a good idea when my client will go off the board. I also will study the basic trend of the past three drafts to compile data about how many players at a certain position might be drafted and when

I know some agents initially sold themselves on the premise that they can manipulate the draft process and get a player drafted higher. So when it comes to setting expectations, they have to stick with their original prediction, which is usually higher than reality. As a result, there about 200 guys in the country thinking they have a shot to be drafted in the first round. My clients will be informed of their best- and worst-case scenarios. Further, each one will be given a protocol about what will happen if he’s not drafted along with a formula we use to select a team. I do this for all players, regardless of how high they’re rated.

What to expect/how to prepare: I believe that the more time, resources and energy I put into preparing my rookie clients in year one, the better off they’ll be and the stronger our relationship will be going forward. So I work hard to explain how the weeks and months after the draft will unfold for them. I also encourage them to study up on the team and city that drafts them -- from the owner, front office execs, coaches and trainers to the history of the franchise and the city.

If a player gets drafted to a team where I currently have a client, I will ask my client to take the rookie under his wing. Or I’ll put my rookie in touch with a vet who played for his coach-to-be and have him tell the player what to expect and how to prepare. I also recommend that all my players read Bill Parcells’ book, “Finding a Way to Win.” There’s a chapter in there about what he expects from rookies.

As exciting as the draft can be for a player, it’s equally scary. Arriving in a city you’ve never visited, working with coaches and players you’ve never met, and trying to absorb a playbook at the speed of light is overwhelming and stressful. I try to teach my clients how to manage it all.

I also teach them some financial basics:
• The rule of 50 percent: You only take home about 50 percent of what you’ll be paid. Embrace this concept to have a real idea how much money you’re really making.
• Sock away your signing bonus; a player’s first signing bonus can set him up for life. However, once he dives in to it, it disappears fast.
• Buy a used car! Never buy new!
• Don’t buy a house until after the end of your first season when you know you have job security. Too many guys rush into buying a home and pay too much for it.
• Study how Roger Staubach, Emmitt Smith and Steve Young handled their money from their rookie years to today. Do what they did and you’ll be set for life.

Goal-setting: I think many players set goals, but they don’t really know how to do it. I encourage my clients to set realistic goals by writing them down, building a vision board and looking at it every day.

My first client, Raiders tight end Mike Dyal, wrote goals on a paper that said the following: “Go through year one without being hurt, catch everything (no drops) and make the team.” He did all three. In year two, he set a goal of starting and playing in every game, and he did that as well. He told me that he looked at his goals every morning and every night, then visualized them happening. He had a seven-year career in the NFL.

Many young men set goals, but they don’t always know how. I try to give them proven techniques that will help them accomplish their goals. Goals should be broken down in to small steps. In football they would go something like this:

GOAL: Have the playbook mastered by opening week. I will do this by studying two hours a day, meeting with my position coach twice a week and staying after practice for 20 minutes each day to correct any missed assignments.

Goals should be broken down into small, realistic components.

I’m sure we’ll mix in some steaks and beach time as these players have yet to relax since camp began last summer.

Follow me on Twitter: @jackbechta

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