Unless you work at Creative Artists Agency, Maximum Sports, BEST, Athletes First, Rosenhaus Sports, or Priority Sports (I am probably missing a few at this level), not a day goes by that you are stressed less than the average Jewish mother. Your career often depends on the results of a couple days (this year, three days), when the NFL Draft comes around and you hope to see your players selected in one of the seven rounds. But there is also hope that your players will be signed by teams after the draft. After all, you have forged relationships with the best athletic trainers, paid for your clients’ training, food, apartment, and possibly some other things (in football, a $100,000 car is not unheard of). You hopefully would not have spent money on guys who had absolutely no chance of being an undrafted free agent pick-up.
The seven rounds go by and at least one of your clients never shows up on ESPN and the NFL Network. You have been working the phones nonstop for the past few days, though, and teams are now interested in signing your player after they used up all of their draft picks. More specifically, America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys, are ready to add him to their roster as soon as he signs on the dotted line. But then, after years of playing a sport that he supposedly loved, months of training on your dime, eating the food you paid for, and taking up minute after minute of your valuable time, he gets cold feet.
No more hypothetical – this actually happened this weekend. And unfortunately, it happened to an agent that I am friends with. The player’s name is Scott Sicko (revert to my joke at the beginning of this post, if you would like), a former tight-end with the New Hampshire Wildcats, who had 160 receptions for 2,014 yards and 22 touchdowns in his collegiate career. The Jaguars, Jets, and Cowboys were interested in Sicko after the seven rounds had gone by, but my that point, Sicko was no longer interested in playing professional football.
Sicko told his agent that if he was not going to be drafted, he was not going to play. That’s usually something you want to write on a huge poster board in red writing and hand it over to prospective agents well in advance of the draft. Unfortunately for his team of advisors, they found out as the draft was winding down.
“If I were to be drafted I would have had more confidence of a much longer career in the NFL,” Sicko said. “I have to look at my life and decide what will make me the happiest. And the thing that will make me the happiest now and in the longrun is to pursue my education.”
I have absolutely no problem with that statement. What I do have a problem with is that his decision, when it was made, affects others just as much (if not more) than it affects himself. The football agency world is disgusting. With agents undercutting each other when the commission is capped at 3%, people are stealing clients from each other, and the cost to compete (paying for athletes’ expenses) being so high, this type of story can really set an agent back. But perhaps the football agent industry is to blame for all of this. As stated, agents will do practically anything to get a client (because it is such a competitive landscape). Football players, even ones with no shot of being drafted, feel entitled. Why have the decency to warn your agent ahead of time that if you don’t get drafted, you probably will hang up the cleats?