A close friend once told me that I make my job look easy to outsiders. I think many agents do. But what no one really sees is the behind the scenes work that is stressful, time consuming, intense, emotional and extremely intimate as we mange the careers of others. For young professionals/attorneys/graduates looking to get into the business, be ready to give up a lot of yourself.
Doing the hardest work when nobody is looking:
The private affairs of a client’s career, both on and off the field, should be just that, private. With the growing tentacles of the media and the competition for information (aka scoop), the job of the agent is more challenging than ever. When you see a transaction note tied to a player's name, we witness all the emotion thats goes along with it.
I know that when one of my clients has an injury, is out of work, released, traded, demoted, promoted, criticised, drafted, retiring, fined, signed, or has a mishap off the field, he comes to me to; fix it, make the best of it, make it go away, explain it, prepare for it, fight it, manage it, capitalize on it, move on from it and even to cry on it. This is the work that is done by agents that nobody sees. The fan sees the big contracts, the press releases, the appearances, the interviews, the commercials, and the manufactured and edited fun part that is the NFL.
When you see a player drafted, you don’t see the ones whose dreams were crushed when their name was never called, we do!
When you see a player carted off the field, you don’t see his family crying, we do!
When a player is cut, you don’t see the insecurity, the shock, the fallout, the emotions, we do!
When a young player makes a social slip up off the field and the media crucifies him, you don’t see the pain, we do!
Along with what we see and manage on a daily basis as agents, comes a responsibility to counsel, console, explain, and take away a lot of the sting that comes with the downside of the business. The responsibility and commitment by most of us (but unfortunately not all) is the giving of ones’ total self. It’s giving of our time with family and loved ones, our vacation and personal time, our emotional energy, 24 hour access and always having the ready switch on. You will never find an agent without a charged phone. We are always on stand by ready to react to any situation.
Why trust is so important:
During the season, I make over fifty inquiries/calls a week to NFL coaches, personnel men and GMs in my effort to try to find an opportunity for my out of work clients. My clients cannot see these efforts and just have to take a leap of faith that the work is being done. A good agent is constantly badgering NFL men in order to place their clients.
When a client is injured, it’s the agents’ job to line up second opinions, schedule the top surgeons and find the best rehab specialists to make the best out of a dire situation. This is not glamorous work. But it’s the type of work that can make or break players’ chances of playing again.
When an agent is negotiating an injury settlement for a client, he has to trust that the agent is fighting for every dollar. Agents can work a long time and will have the temptation to short change a client so he keeps in good standing with the team. A tough agent with integrity won’t care about the feelings of front office men. They will just do what’s in the best interest of the client. This is why some agents who also represent management such as coaches and GMs can put themselves in compromising positions.
A good agent will not take “no” for an answer when trying to get what his client deserves. Whether it’s a premium contract, a proper injury settlement, a fine appeal or a marketing opportunity, a good agent will give all of themselves to getting what’s in the clients best interest. Giving ones all comes with a personal price tag of great sacrifice not seen by any one, and sometimes not even appreciated by the client. But the satisfaction of protecting, helping insulate, propelling, guiding, taking care of, setting up, getting a second chance and teaching life skills, can be rewarding for this agent.
For this agent, seeing a client like Packers DT Johnny Jolly get a second chance on life and football is rewarding to the soul. Yes, of course I am still going to charge him a fee for his contract. But there is no price tag for the years and hours of work and emotion that went into helping Johnny, and even others with different issues. This is the work that no one sees, the work we do twenty-four seven that makes a difference.
No, we aren’t curing cancer and we are not making the world a better place. But we are helping young men, who entertain about 100 million fans, live their dream and make the most of a fragile opportunity. We will continue to be underappreciated by the world but we will also continue to take the calls at midnight, or in the middle of dinner with family and give ourselves to our clients’ safety, dreams and overall best interests.
Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta