Fiction: “I am former player (O-lineman in this case) and I can teach you the position.” Fact: There are some very good agents who have played in the NFL and the best ones DON’T teach technique to their clients. I am sure a former player can help his client with some knowledge but it doesn’t mean he can negotiate a good contract.
Fiction: “I only deal directly with owners while other agents have to deal with GMs and salary cap managers. My direct line to owners will greatly benefit you.” Fact: This particular agent uses this line in all his conversations. It’s a joke! Owners rarely ever get involved with rookie deals. In addition, many owners will frequently talk with agents for their team’s best players but they don’t sit down and do the deal. The bat phone line is just that, a line.
Fiction: “I have no family so I can spend more time on representing you than an agent with a family.” Fact: This is outright offensive to those with families who work hard for their clients. I also think for any player who wants to start a family early would understand that doing so won’t make him inferior to a player who is single.
Fiction: “I can get you a better contract than anyone else you are talking to. No one gets better contracts than me.” Fact: We hear this all the time and the truth is that many of the top deals per position are done by agents who would be considered to have a midsize or boutique practice. I have personally topped the market in four different position categories during my career. In scanning the agent directory I can identify about 25 to 30 agents I would bet are capable of negotiating a max rookie deal and/or a bar setting free agent deal. I think the agents for Tom Brady, Brett Farve, Eric Steinbach, Ben Roethlisberger, Logan Mankins, Julius Peppers, and Jason Peters did okay. The large agencies and agents have also done an incredible job.
Fiction: “If you select agent X, you will be committing career suicide.” Fact: Many agents will sell the fear factor by undermining their competition. The classy and professional agents in this industry don’t talk about the competition.
Fiction: “I have been studying you and I have all your NFL scouting reports in front of me.” Fact: Most experienced agents have access to NFL scouts and their opinions about players. However, scouts and front office personnel people do not give out their actual reports. They will share information with agents but most agents can get this information. This line is an attempt to show the prospect and the family he is “connected”.
Fiction: “We only represent the best of the best, if you want to be one of them you have to sign with us/me.” Fact: Players make agents, agents don’t make players. Andrew Luck, the first overall pick was still the first overall pick with a virgin agent.
Just like in any business, the best salesman with the best lines can win the client. Our industry is especially prone to deception because the players are so young, their families are new to the industry and most college coaches and compliance heads have parents/players scared to death to talk with and conduct in-depth interviews with agents. Thus, the window to interact with, interview, and do the due-diligence is greatly narrowed.
Agents who contributed to this article are Mike McCartney of Priority Sports and Entertainment and Eric Metz of LMM Sports Management. The two other agents wish to not have their names used.
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