The following is a guest contribution from Heather Brittany (@HeatherBrit). Heather is currently a law student at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and Sports Chair of its Entertainment & Sports Law Society.
Renegade. Athlete’s rights advocate. Evangelist for the Olympics. Difficult. Exacting. Argumentative. Brash. Insane. Hyper-Active. These are all slogans and adjectives that sports agent, Evan Morgenstein, President and CEO of Premier Management Group in Cary, North Carolina, has been tagged with at one time or another in his 19 year-long career.
I had the opportunity of hearing Morgenstein first speak at the Variety Sports Business Summit back in July 2011. He immediately stuck out to me as someone “different” from the rest. He sat extremely relaxed and would casually whip his hair back and forth (Willow Smith style). The panel that he was on consisted of other agents and one of his clients, Olympic Gold Medalist, Janet Evans. The conversation went in a direction that brought forth the question “Are agents expendable?” Morgenstein sweetly reached his arm out and rested it on Evans’ shoulder, looked at her and said, “Oh. We’re family.” Although he said this in a playful manner, that truly exemplifies Morgenstein’s approach to his clients; they are family.
I have been fortunate enough to further build a friendship with Morgenstein over the past couple of months. Never at a loss for words or desire to give his opinion, Morgenstein shared with me some of his philosophies on being an agent, representing iconic athletes and soon to be champions, life on the road and how he hopes to be remembered.
Heather Brittany: Evan, how did you start in this business?
Evan Morgenstein: I was fired from my last job in technology selling computer systems to the healthcare industry.
Heather Brittany: Why?
Evan Morgenstein: I was partying too much. I didn’t take the opportunity seriously. I was out 7 nights a week with a passion! I knew selling systems to doctors who mostly were arrogant and insanely uninformed was not my future and this “career” choice was not going to end well. I deserved to be fired. But the truth is the company was full of ass kissers who never had a free thought in their life!
Heather Brittany: So you basically committed career suicide?
Evan Morgenstein: Perfectly worded! It was time to bury that sad episode of an otherwise extraordinary life!
Heather Brittany: Tell us why being a sports agent was your passion.
Evan Morgenstein: My dad was an average football player who got a partial scholarship to play at Syracuse, my alma mater. Sports were always part of my life and truthfully it was the only thing that strung two days together for me.
Heather Brittany: What do you mean?
Evan Morgenstein: Most people just meander through their day, through their life. Never stop long enough to identify what makes them happy or eliminate what makes them sad. Sports defined everything for me. Seasons. Activities. Family time. Friend time. If I wasn’t playing it, I was talking smack. Btw, the Dolphins sucked when I was a kid and they suck now! J-E-T-S! JETS JETS JETS!
Heather Brittany: Well, I’m a Mark Sanchez fan, so I’m alright with that. Where did Premier Management Group or PMG Sports come from?
Evan Morgenstein: I worked for a sports marketing agency that repped NBA athletes. I did that for a couple of years, thought that 99 percent of the NBA athletes that I met or worked with were utter worthless, thankless assholes, so I quit and started my own company. No NBA ATHLETES ALLOWED! Truth is Charles Smith, the former NY Knick was that 1 percent. He gave me a chance. Treated me like family. I owe him almost everything because he believed in me. Can never thank him enough!
Heather Brittany: Why Olympic athletes?
Evan Morgenstein: Because in 1995/96, there was only one agency that focused on Olympic athletes and they only repped the icons! Michael Johnson, Amy Van Dyken, etc. I wanted to make a difference in the rank and file in the Olympic movement. They work just as hard. They deserved someone going out and singing their praises.
Heather Brittany: What has been the most rewarding partnership that you’ve had the opportunity to facilitate?
Evan Morgenstein: Here’s the problem, if I answer that, another athlete is going to see that… it’s like dealing with kids. There’s nothing like cereal boxes… you know? Walking down an aisle and seeing your athlete on the cover of a Wheaties box, it’s pretty incredible.
Heather Brittany: What would you like people to remember you for (in association with being an agent)?
Evan Morgenstein: I actually think about this a lot. I’d like to be remembered for the guy that helped create a middle class in the Olympic movement in the US. For all of those athletes who wanted to make representing their country, their sport and their family a career, I helped make that a reality. That would make me feel like all the bullshit was worth it!