The Media: There is an odd relationship with agents and the media. We tell our clients not to look at the rankings by draftniks on the internet but yet when we see a rating we don’t like, we usually call the draftnik up to present a case for a better grade. Other times there is damage control that has to be done because of false or exaggerated stories that has to do with an off field issue. It’s our job to get the story right or spin it in the direction most beneficial to our client.
There is no hard evidence that exists that draftniks will help or hurt a player’s stock. But we do know the sports media as a whole can help hype a players stock leading up to draft day. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to get your clients story out there if it’s a good one. If it’s not so good, it’s best to do some damage control. By the way, the media sways more owners than you can imagine.
Off-field opportunities: When we are not talking to NFL personnel men we are making sure our new clients are happy. One way to do so is to provide them with income opportunities such as autograph signings, appearances and/or product endorsements. A player can make anywhere between $10,000 and $1,000,000 prior to the draft, depending on his popularity of course. The RGIII and Cam Newton types will get the big deals. But you would be surprised how much a mid round pick such as a safety or linebacker from a state like Iowa, Kansas or Alabama can make. It’s our job to hustle and create deals for our clients.
In addition to these endorsements it’s a good time to work on a client’s short and long term branding strategy as well.
Finances: Many agents play banker to their new clients and will lend them both small and large sums of monies. Some agents will provide six figure credit lines to be repaid after the player gets his signing bonus (I don’t do this). Other agents will loan a player a few thousand dollars to take care of some miscellaneous issues. Some agents like myself provide education and financial counseling to make sure our clients don’t fall victim to the trappings that help so many players go broke.
Smile and dial: Having been an agent of 25 years I have built up a great network of contacts. Most agents have. Over the course of the next few months I will call someone at each and every team and talk to them about each one of my clients. I want to make sure that they have the correct intelligence on my clients. If they have a negative scouting report I want to find out why and see if there is a way I can combat it. I also want to share some nuances, stories and or unique traits that my client may possess. The other purpose this serves is that I can get a great feel of what the marketplace thinks of my client(s). Thus, I can better prepare my clients expectations come draft day.
Relationship building: The time between signing a new client and draft day creates an opportunity to really get to know our clients. I personally don’t promote any social activities like drinking or going out during training time. However, I will spend as much time as I can with my clients, educating them about the business of the NFL. I do bring my clients to San Diego for a week prior to the draft to set their expectations and garner more face-to-face time in building the relationships. Some agents have a more liberal method of building relationships like taking their clients to the Super Bowl and party for 3 or 4 days. Regardless of the method, we put in a lot of time building the relationship.
Draftees won't show it but the draft process is stressful and promotes insecurity for most of them. A good agent will do lots of hand holding and educating to make sure his client is prepared to live his dream. I do believe most agents do all the right things in helping their new clients. In our industry, all the really hard work is done when nobody is looking.
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