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Is Being A Sports Agent Rocket Science?

Rocket Science

Last night on ESPN’s Outside The Lines, the agent situation for three athletes was examined. These 3 topics were discussed:

1. Vince Young’s selection of Major Adams as his agent
2. Lance Berkman’s original selection of his father as his agent
3. The agent selection process for Jonathan Vilma

1. Vince Young’s selection of Major Adams as his agent
Since hiring Major Adams as his agent, the press has been very speculative concerning Vince Young’s decision. To the press, the selection of Major Adams seemed out of no where. He is the Young’s family attorney and has only served as an agent for one other athlete in the NFL. He has known Vince Young since his Pop Warner days, but is that enough to qualify him to represent one of the top picks of the upcoming draft? Major Adams seems to think so. This is what Major Adam’s said in an interview on Outside The Lines:

“He [Vince Young] wants people around him who knows him. Not just someone who shows up on your porch out of the night. Being an agent isn’t all that difficult.”

Well thank you Mr. Adams. Let’s see what critics make of your statement about the ease of being an agent once Vince Young is either not picked as high as you would have liked or he does not get the contract that he deserves. Also, if it is the case that being an agent isn’t that difficult, why have you hired a team of other agents to help along with the process? If your assessment is true, then why does this blog exist, why does the NFL require agents to gain a post-undergraduate degree, and why do athletes continue to hire agents? Enough for Major Adams…let’s move on to Lance Berkman.

2. Lance Berkman’s original selection of his father as his agent
Lance Berkman, the power hitting outfielder for the Houston Astros, began his career using his father as his agent. As a tax attorney at Momentum Sports Group (which is now added to the list of Sports Agencies on the left panel of this website), Larry Berkman felt that he could handle representing his son in contract negotiations. If you are wondering where I got the title of this post from, it is from Mr. Larry Berkman himself when he said on ESPN:

“It [being an agent] is not rocket science. The best agents have the best clients.”

Very deep. Extremely philosophical. Of course the best agents have the best clients. That’s because they are the best at what they do! Being an agent may not be a rocket science, but looking at the fact that your son, Lance Berkman, decided to fire you does not say much for your thoughts on the profession.

3. The agent selection process for Jonathan Vilma
Here was the part of the show that actually shed some true light on the profession. Jonathan Vilma from the U (University of Miami) was selected 12th overall by the Jets a few years ago. According to his testimony to Outside The Lines, Vilma first started to see and hear agents mid way though his Junior Year. They were asking him about his thoughts about going to the NFL and leaving early. Overall he heard from 15 to 20 agents and only took 3 of them seriously. A lot of the agents did not make the cut because they were not capable of handling the job or because their personality clashed with Mr. Vilma’s.

Timeout. Realize that out of about 20 agents who spoke to Jonathan Vilma, he only took 3 of them seriously. This means that the rest of the agents spent their time and money for absolutely nothing. But that’s part of the game.

Anyway, Jonathan Vilma wanted someone who would be more than a contract negotiator. He wanted a relationship. DING DING DING. BOOM. BANG. Hearing it from a professional football player on ESPN was like hot chocolate on a brisk day.

“This Is Not a Game” by CFO Magazine:

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO BUILD GOOD RELATIONSHIPS (let’s just say that I capped that message because I am 100% in support of it)…do not burn your bridges as some agents have done in the past.

Are all of us crazy?!?!?!:

Do everything that you can to create relationships with those around you and reach out to make new relationships each day.

Jonathan Vilma found an agent that would form a personal relationship with him. There were three other things that Vilma was looking for in an agent. Those three things were: professionalism, record with past clients, and his family’s thoughts. For any job, it is important to remain professional, you are judged constantly by your past, and a client’s family is just as important to woo as the client himself/herself.

The main question that Jonathan Vilma had for the agents that were all over him was: “How are you going to approach my contract?” If asked that question, how would you answer it?

Vilma concluded his interview by answering that day-to-day, his agent’s job was to make sure the little things were taken care of so that he could stay focused on football, and only football. This is important to take in. While being an agent seems glamorous at many times, you have to realize that you will be the one in charge of booking the flights, booking the hotel rooms, etc.

In conclusion, being a Sports Agent may not be a rocket science, but it is a cut-throat, 24/7, amazing job where personal relationships are key. Major Adams has had a personal relationship with Vince Young since Vince’s childhood, but is that enough to qualify him as the best candidate for the job as Mr. Young’s agent?

[tags]vince young, major adams, lance berkman, larry berkman, jonathan vilma, sports agent, contracts, espn, outside the lines[/tags]

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

3 replies on “Is Being A Sports Agent Rocket Science?”

I wonder if Vince Young’s family will use their general practicioner for their heart surgery because they know him better than a heart surgeon they haven’t met before.

You are an idiot. I met Major Adams approximately 12 years ago in Houston, Texas. He is an extremely bright man and well qualified to manage the professional career of Vince Young. Prior to becoming an agent, Mr. Adams was a practicing attorney. In your editorial you failed to include the depth and breadth of his experience. He’a been practicing law for 10 years. Do you believe that managing a sports career of Vince Young could be more difficult than representing defendants in capital murder cases? Are you nuts? Moreover, during his career Adams has likely written and litigated thousands of contracts. Also, it common for attorney acting general corporate counsel will retain other counsel. It would be an issue if Mr. Adams didn’t retain outside help to assist him. After all, Vince Young’s earning potential rivals that of many corporations. Finally, you neglected to mention that Adam’s manages his sister, multi-grammy winning singer Yolanda Adams. I believe handling her career would suffice as experience in the “entertainment relm.”

Next time you write, check your facts.


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