As the college football season begins to wind down the NFL Draft season starts to crank up. Already we’ve seen the declaration of some underclassmen and the seniors have been chomping at the bit since the last snaps of their collegiate careers. Now begins the games within the game. Not since their courtship of recruitment out of high school has so much attention been rained down upon the top playmakers headed into the 2013 NFL Draft.
The NFL Sports Agent
Enter the NFL sports agents. Technically the NCAA puts strict limits on the interaction of NFL sports agents with college football players prior to the end of their eligibility. We’ve all heard of the various scandals revolving around the improprieties of sports agents dealing with the early recruitment of NFL prospects, but by and large most of the sports agent community adheres to rules and regulations that govern their contact with college players.
But this time of year – GAME ON! Competition is fierce to land the top players across the country. Some of the NFL sports agents will stop at nothing to defeat their own opponents within the industry. This push-pull puts the players in the middle, and the uneducated prospect can be taken for a ride.
Look at the history
Many of the top NFL sports agents are partnered under the top agencies. These firms have established track records in representing some of the NFL’s finest and use their history to lure the League’s future stars. They have the financial resources to prepare their clients for the upcoming “meat grinder” of evaluations at the College All-Star games, the NFL Combine and College Pro-Days. This can entail extensive pre-Combine training for the 7 skill drills administered at Indy, the exhaustive interview process with coaches & scouts from the 32 clubs, and the repetitive preparation for the all important Wonderlic Test.
Keep emotions in check
The excitement and anticipation of players and their families for this process can lead to either choosing a trusted adviser over the course of a productive career, or can hold them at the mercy of unscrupulous representation that will only rack up bills that they can’t afford to payback.
The majority of my dealings with the NFL sports agent community have always been quite positive. I have many friends as a result of the working relationships built over the years in putting together an NFL roster. I selected my own agent to represent me as a result of my direct dealings with him to secure his players for our club. His courteous and honorable way of doing business was exactly how I wanted to be personally represented in my own contract negotiations.
They work for you
My advice to any young NFL prospect about to enter into the selection of their NFL sports agent – REMEMBER THEY WORK FOR YOU. You are and will be paying them for a service. How they go about performing that service on your behalf is just as important as what they do. I’ve frequently told young men that an NFL sports agent can’t get you drafted in any particular round, but he or she can certainly keep you from being selected with a specific pick.
NFL General Managers and Personnel Directors don’t want to deal with jerks. They don’t want to deal with difficult situations and scenarios brought on by poor player representation. You want a sports agent that will fight for your best interests and secure a solid deal for you. You want a sports agent that will look at the development of a long term plan for your professional football career, both on and off the field.
Outside of the top 15 picks or so, your first contract is about what it is. But the advice that you seek out in preparing for the NFL Draft and then entering into your new profession is as unique as every sports agent certified under the NFLPA. Choose wisely, it could be the difference in a “one and done” versus productive multi-contract career.