I know what it feels like to go through the consequences of suffering a concussion. About half a year ago, I fell and hit my head on concrete, which resulted in a lesion, contusion, and ultimately a concussion. I suffered severe headaches for a short period of time and was told that I was lucky to be living. To make matters even worse, I had no sense of smell or taste for over a month and was told that I had less than a 50% chance of ever regaining the senses. Luckily, my smell and taste have been restored and I am living, breathing, and writing this post. If the ramifications of falling and hitting my head could be so severe, imagine the type of consequences for football players who take blow after blow to their skull and are prone to endure concussions on the field.
In Head Case: An Agent’s Guide to Protecting their NFL Clients from Concussions and Associated Risks, Shane Meecham makes a claim that it is our responsibility as agents to take acion and protect our football clients from repeated concussions and their potential devastating consequences. The article will be featured in an upcoming University of Missouri-Kansas City Law Review issue. Meecham believes that we serve three major roles in assisting our clients: teacher, advocate, and counselor, and breaks down our responsibilities according to each classification.
As a teacher, we have an instrumental role in selecting training for pre-combine performance enhancement, offseason work, etc. Meecham stresses that an agent look deep into what a trainer is offering in terms of workouts. Neck strength and flexibility should be a focus during offseason training and also in team workouts. There is no failproof way of preventing a concussion, though. Thus, it is also important for us to let out clients know of the possible symptoms following enduring a concussion and that they should be relayed to both the team’s medical staff and ourselves in the case that those symptoms become evident.
It is easiest for an agent to understand that he/she is always an advocate for his/her clients. Along with consistently building up their worth for potential suitors, agents must take an active role in their clients medical records. NFL players are allowed to review their medical records in the pre-season and at the end of each regular season. Meecham believes that agents should do their clients a favor and draft the letter for them, asking that a copy of their medical and training records be sent over (a client’s signature will be necessary before any letter is sent out).
Last, we should all be counselors and put our clients health and well-being ahead of our own self-interests. Meecham would like us to seriously discuss retirement with any of our clients who have suffered two concussions (especially if those two concussions occurred in the span of a seven-year period). In fact, I think Shane is one-hundred-percent correct when he states, Developing a reputation as an agent who looks out for her players’ best interests, even at her own expense, will probably economically benefit the agent in the long term. There are too many stories of people trying to make a quick buck at the expense of true long-term success. An older agent may see his window of potential high earnings closing, while a younger agent may be able to realize that there will be a lot of time for future wealth accumulation. No matter what an agent’s age may be, she must be willing to put aside her own lofty goals to ensure that her clients are protected.
Shane Meecham’s article is short and straight to the point. As a sports agent, we often have to wear various hats. Our relationship with our clients goes well beyond the three categories of teacher, advocate, and counselor, but in those areas alone, a duty exists to help educate and prepare our clients about the likelihood and symptoms of concussions. Additionally, we must do everything in our power to increase prevention of athletes suffering concussions altogether. Following Meecham’s advice, we can all make a difference in our clients health and quality of life well after they step foot off the field of play.