by Jack Bechta
November 26, 02009
In the late 1980s and early ‘90s, I used to spend my Thanksgiving weekends in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It was great – 50-cent beers, sun, beach, snorkeling and an occasional tequila shot. It was kind of my halftime break during the season and a battery-charge before I started signing players.
In 1993, when I went full time in the agent business, I noticed that the majority of players had already selected their agents by the time I got back from Mexico. I haven’t had a Mexican Thanksgiving since 1994.
For college seniors whose teams won’t play in a bowl game, expect them to have an agent by next week, or even sooner.
For example, I’ve been having phone dialogue with the father of a Big 10 football player since August. He liked what I had to say and was interested in having me meet his son “after” the season for a formal presentation. He was doing the agent screening for his boy and wanted to insulate him from any distractions -- or so he thought.
Last week, the father and I agreed to chat the day after his son’s last game and discuss a meeting time. When I called him at noon on Sunday, he told me that his son had already signed with an agent. I wished them luck and asked the father who his son had signed with. He had to ask his wife because he didn’t know the agent’s name, nor had he met him. His son was apparently engaging in his own dialogue and interaction with agents, unbeknownst to his dad. This doesn’t surprise me because it happens frequently.
Respecting the wishes of coaches and parents can sometimes cost an agent an opportunity to sign players. In this particular case, the seasoned agent had this player locked up for some time. If he did it ethically, then more power to him. If not, I’m glad I didn’t waste time with the player.
There have been many Thanksgiving weekends I’ve spent on the road giving presentations and signing players. I once spent a Thanksgiving evening sleeping on the floor at the Cleveland airport, another in a hotel in Little Rock, Ark., and a third with a player’s family I had just met and eventually signed. I once gave a presentation after the player’s family had a Thanksgiving meal, and my prospect dozed off into a turkey coma. I actually signed him and still represent him today.
For those players who finish their seasons this week or next, there will be some agents and signatures flying around. In our business, this past Sunday is like the beginning of deer season in Wisconsin or Black Friday at Macy’s. I don’t get caught up in the frenzy anymore, though, and I enjoy Thanksgiving like most Americans. However, I’ll be on a plane Saturday morning to support my Stanford coaches, clients Jim Harbaugh and Willie Taggart (recently named the head coach of Western Kentucky).
After that, I won’t be around to enjoy leftovers. I’ll be crisscrossing the country, working to acquire some new quality clients.
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