So you want to be a Sports Agent?
I am sure you have watched the movie Jerry Maguire at least a dozen times or reruns of HBO’s hit show Arli$$. You have most likely seen Leigh Steinberg or Drew Rosenhaus on TV boasting about the mega contract they got for their client or why their client has been mistreated by their team's front office.
Because movies and the media always give the most accurate depictions of the real world, you probably have a clear picture of what the life of a Sports Agent entails… an arena filled with excitement, glamour and money.
Well you are right; kind of…
Cameron Crowe did a great job in romanticizing the relationship between Jerry Maguire and his client, Rod Tidwell. Believe it or not, that type of relationship does exist in the real sports world; and I am a guy lucky enough to have several of them.
My name is Jack Bechta and I am a real life Sport Agent. I currently represent about 15 active NFL players; some of which are the highest paid players at their position, some have played in the Pro Bowl, and many are the blue-collar starters and back-ups that make up the heart of the NFL.
By now you are probably thinking being a Sports Agent sounds like a pretty good gig: You develop close personal relationships with some of the nation’s most famous star athletes; you suddenly take pleasure in telling people what you do for a living, you get the opportunities to go to the legendary Lambeau Field or Foxboro Stadium and call it work; and you rarely have to wait in line anywhere when you are with one of your clients.
Well it is true; there are some pretty amazing fringe benefits to being a Sports Agent.
I have personally rubbed elbows with some of the greatest team owners and GMs, Hall of Fame Players such as Marcus Allen, John Elway and Michael Jordan, and actors and actresses. I have been to Super Bowls, Pro Bowls in Hawaii and the ESPY Awards; I have received red-carpet treatment at the best bars and restaurants in the country. I have been in the locker room after the game, on the field beforehand and even get the best seats and parking at the stadium.
But when you are on the clock, worrying about the health of one of your clients while juggling phone calls from coaches, doctors and family members… those fringe benefits seem to morph into just another component of the job. Needless to say, I enjoy the work I have done, the relationships I have formed with my clients, and the opportunities I have had to spend time with my clients and their families.
In my 20’s and 30’s I really enjoyed this lifestyle, a Sports Agent was what I was; however, after a while, being a Sports Agent has become my profession, it is just what I do. I think the public’s perception of a Sports Agent is certainly misguided. For example, when an athlete makes an embarrassing decision or lacks good judgment, many people wonder why his agent had not prepared him better. Or if a player is making Five Million Dollars a year, people wonder why his agent is asking for Eight Million Dollars; I am sure this makes us look like greedy parasites in the eyes of the average fan.
I believe this perception exists because the most publicized and ego-driven agents are the ones you hear the most from, the ones you see on TV and read about in the newspaper; thus the ones who become the poster child for the rest of us. But believe me, these agents are not indicative of who we are.
The side of the business you rarely will see is how hard we work for our clients, how we are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for our clients.
You will never see the thankless behind-the-scenes work that occurs when a player gets hurt or cut on the evening news or SportsCenter. You will never read about the hours of endless phone conversations we have throughout day and night in the newspaper or on ESPN.com.
Most importantly, you rarely hear of the personal sacrifices an agent makes to keep his clients happy and informed, his clientele intact and the competition away from his stable.
The bigger the agent you want to be in this business, the more clients you want to have, ultimately comes down to the more you will have to sacrifice, the more you have to give of yourself. Drew Rosenhaus and Joel Segal are two of the biggest agents in football. These guys work 16 hours a day catering to their clients and hustling new ones. They have very little time for anything else because they live their role as an agent.
As a result, the more you give of yourself in trying to be the biggest and the best, the more you lose yourself as an individual. You literally become the job; you live for your clients and the success of it all. Again, this is the part you do not read about in the news, see on TV, or truly understand until you are in the position.
If you remember, Jerry Maguire thought he had it all before he wrote “The Memo”; the clients, the big office, the successful girlfriend, the car and the money, it was also when he was the Sports Agent 24/7. However, it was not until he was left with just one client who truly appreciated and respected him and a woman who loved and believed in him, that Maguire rediscovered who he really was.
Another thing Cameron Crowe accurately nailed in the movie is that the majority of athletes want the Bob Sugars of the industry; the agent who will tell them what they want to hear versus what they need to hear.
So if you want to be a Sports Agent, I encourage you to follow your dream… But not without giving you your first task… Decide who you want to be, Bob Sugar or Jerry Maguire. Do you want to sell your soul or give it? That is the first decision you will have to make.
I am one of the lucky ones, with a handful of others, who know how to find and represent a good number of Rod Tidwells; those athletes who appreciate our care, counsel and countless sincere efforts. I am Jack Bechta and my job title is “Sports Agent.”
Over the course of this NFL season, I will be blogging the Post at least once a week to give you a more in-depth look at the Sports Agent industry. I hope to see you back often!