Sports Agent Interview:
with Matthew Vuckovich
Kevin Gold is a 40-year-old sports agent and is the President of Longsnap.com (www.longsnap.com). He has been able to find his niche in representing long snappers. He also represented minor league hockey and baseball players in the beginning of his agent career. Most importantly, Mr. Gold has been a guest contributor on SportsAgentBlog.com. I was able to chat with him and this was his story:
Matthew Vuckovich: How did you get started in this industry?
Kevin Gold: I started out on my own after law school, first representing minor league hockey and baseball players, before focusing on football players and now long snappers in particular.
Matthew Vuckovich: Did you attend law school or grad school? If so, which law school or grad school?
Kevin Gold: I attended Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg.
Matthew Vuckovich: Who was your first client (year, sport), and how did you recruit him?
Kevin Gold: My first major football client was Doug Whaley who, in 1994, was a safety from the University of Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, he did not get a chance to play pro ball, but, instead, worked his way up from being a scout with the Seahawks to being named the Pro Personnel Director for the Steelers. I often joke that the best thing I ever did for him was not get him a playing job, which allowed him to get a front office job quickly.
Matthew Vuckovich: How did you handle your first contract negotiation?
Kevin Gold: My first NFL contract was for Rob Davis, who, at the time, was going from the CFL to the Kansas City Chiefs as a snapper in 1996. He is still in the NFL, entering his 12th season, and that first deal with the Chiefs involved a signing bonus that I negotiated that was large enough to convince his CFL club to let him out of the option year in his contract.
Matthew Vuckovich: What is the most important aspect of being a sports agent?
Kevin Gold: I think HONESTY, COMPETENCY and DILIGENCE. Every agent will claim they can provide all three, and more, but being straight-forward, knowing the intricacies of the business and actively and aggressively pursuing the best interests of your clients are all key ingredients.
Matthew Vuckovich: At what age do you feel an agent with hit his prime/glory years? Why?
Kevin Gold: Probably after about 5-10 years of experience. Only through experience can you fully understand and appreciate all of the nuances that affect a player and his career, both on and off the field, from when they are a rookie to when they retire or are cut and must confront life after football.
Matthew Vuckovich: What is your opinion of “larger” agencies with less attention to their clients compared to “smaller” agencies who counsel more with their clients?
Kevin Gold: I think there is a certain appeal to larger agencies, because of their ability to handle anything and everything in one place. However, attention is the price that many clients must adjust to in exchange for this “all under one roof” approach. For example, I think a snapper might get lost in the shuffle in a bigger agency. As a solo agent, specializing in one position, I am able to know all of the player contracts, key personnel, scouts and decision-makers and can provide the service and expertise that my clients need and deserve.
Matthew Vuckovich: Where do you see the athlete representation industry going in 10 years?
Kevin Gold: I think technology is going to continue to play a bigger role. Instead of mailing film and sending faxes to teams concerning clients, I can now use email and upload video via the Internet. I also use email and text messaging to communicate with players and prospects in a more immediate and informal manner. I also think many agents, at least in the NFL, will continue to disappear in light of rules that seek to minimize the number of agents by requiring the negotiation of at least one contract every three years and efforts to reduce the minimum fees charged below the current maximum of three percent. Expenses to recruit and maintain players continue to grow, making it increasingly difficult for smaller agents to survive, at least as full-time agents.
Matthew Vuckovich: Take our readers through a typical day in your life.
Kevin Gold: I typically start every morning surfing the Web for the latest sports news, including SportsAgentBlog.com. As part of my website, longsnap.com, I publish a weekly newsletter dedicated to snapping developments, so I use the Internet to track college and pro snapping developments, as well as general football and sports industry news. During the season, I usually talk to my snapping clients on Monday or Tuesday, if not right after a game if necessary. Snappers are very dedicated professionals and tend to be very low maintenance, so most of my time is spent discussing their performance and snapping developments around the NFL and in college.
Matthew Vuckovich: What advice do you have for people looking to break into the industry?
Kevin Gold: I often speak to law schools and college students on these issues and I try to paint a realistic picture of the industry. Obviously, it is highly competitive and cut-throat and seems to get worse each year. I am fortunate in that, as a solo agent, I found a strong niche representing long snappers and decided to focus my practice on snappers. I am a lawyer and it is my law practice that I rely on for income. My agent business supplements that income, but is not enough to allow me solely representing players. The best advice is to get whatever experience you can in the industry and use that to help determine if you think you have what it takes to succeed. You need to be able to recruit clients, maintain relationships, work the phones and accept rejection.
Matthew Vuckovich: Does your agency provide internships for people looking to break into the industry?
Kevin Gold: Yes, I usually hire a college intern on an unpaid basis each summer to assist me.
Matthew Vuckovich: If you could do one thing to renovate the Sports Agent industry,
what would it be and how would you go about accomplishing that goal?
Kevin Gold: I think the competition for clients results in too much illegal activity. I am not sure how to stop it, but it is difficult for most agents to lose a client due to improper means.
Matthew Vuckovich: What are some of the things an agent can offer their clients besides the negotiation of contracts, getting endorsements, and others along those lines?
Kevin Gold: I think general career advice is critical. Snappers don’t get many endorsement opportunities, so the way I provide additional value to my clients is guidance in non-football activities. Many of my clients are already involved in businesses outside of football, so I try to use my legal and business experience to help them in these efforts.
Matthew Vuckovich: What drives you to represent professional football players?
Kevin Gold: I truly love sports and respect and admire professional athletes. To this day, even having been in this business since 1994, I still get excited to watch my clients compete at the highest level in the world. There is not a great deal of praise that agents get, but my clients have always made me feel like I helped them in some way and to see them succeed and being even a small part of that success is very rewarding and drives me to continue in this competitive business.
Matthew Vuckovich: What did you envision your agency to be like before you started it?
Kevin Gold: I thought that I would find a niche representing players at all positions. I now live in Pennsylvania, which has top high school and college programs, and I always thought that working with area players would be my specialty. However, through Rob Davis, who went to school in nearby Shippensburg, PA, I instead turned the focus to snappers and feel honored to have established a web site and client base dedicated to these unique specialists in the game of football.
Matthew Vuckovich: On behalf of SportsAgentBlog.com and all of our readers, I would like to thank Kevin Gold for sharing his knowledge and experiences with us today. You can check out his website at LONGSNAP.com. Till next time, be safe and act ethically in the business that you love.