Outside of negotiating a contract for a player who wants to secure a long term deal before the start of the season, agents are micro-managing injuries, the media, logistics, expectations, and roster turnover. While players are solely focused on performing in camp, an agent can help minimize distractions and concerns by being proactive in these 5 areas.
1) Stay in tune to your clients: I have clients who are trying to make a roster, regain their starting job, bounce back from injuries, squeak out another year, make a pro bowl and try to make a team for the first time. It’s my job to stay on top of my clients’ progress during camp. If an agent’s client is not getting reps he should know why. A good source for getting information besides speaking directly to coaches or the GM are the area beat writers. Many of these local writers can predict the 53-man roster within 3 to 5 players. Camp is their Super Bowl and they get whispers from coaches and people within the organization about what is really going on inside the meeting rooms. Staying in tune with your client will help to get a glimpse into his future.
2) Help protect, guard and manage the health of your client: NFL players can be their own worst enemy when it comes to staying healthy. Guys still get stingers, concussions and other injuries they conceal from their trainers and doctors in fear of being cut or losing their job. Some guys are just programmed to be warriors and refuse to take any time off. An agent will go as far as to call the head coach and GM to let them know their client is hurt more than he is leading on. I had to tell a newly hired team trainer that my client will probably lie to him about his own health. If my client tells the trainer that he “is 95% ready to go”, it probably means he is only 75%. It’s typical even get calls from clients’ wives telling us the client is concealing an injury. It’s also our job to help clients manage their injuries and tell them the ramifications and impact of missing practices and/or preseason games.
3) Media management: Sometimes players are doing some really good things in camp and it’s our job to let the football world know. Teams will have a tendency to play down and even outright cloak the development of a late draft pick or undrafted free agent. They do this so they have the flexibility to put the player on the practice squad and try to sneak him through waivers without losing him. A clever agent might put the spotlight on the player’s progress so other teams will take notice. And yes, sometimes clubs don’t like that we do this but we work for our players and not the club. Other times it might be just setting the record straight on an injury or roster situation.
4) Keep your client focused, informed and pumped up: It’s really disheartening for a player to go two or three days without getting any reps with the first or second team. Maybe not get any reps at all. He may start looking around and counting roster spots and could lose focus and get the wind taken out of his sails. Thus, when he does get a legit opportunity, he may not be mentally and emotionally prepared. I educate my clients that teams are always scouting each other, so camp, scrimmages, and pre-games are constant auditions.
5) Have a plan B: There is always a threat for injury and losing one’s job to a better younger player. When an agent is representing a player on the bubble, he'd better have a few teams lined up that are in need. I have a few clients that I have already been laying the ground work for with other teams in case they don’t make their current club. Agents will call around to pro personnel directors, and GMs to see where they may have depth issues.
Having a good agent is like having a really good insurance policy. You never plan for a flood or accident but they do happen, and when they do a damage control plan must be in place or the damage may be irreversible.
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