The following “Six Questions” short interview with Evan Brennan, NFLPA Certified Contract Advisor with MB Sports Management, was conducted by Belmont University Law School student and aspiring sports/entertainment agent Mark J. Burns. Connect with Evan on Linkedin and Twitter.
1) When did you first decide you wanted to work in athlete representation? As a follow-up, why did you want to work in this ultra-competitive field?
When I went to BYU years ago for my undergrad, I was around a lot of the football team as friends and classmates. I helped work with some guys in a tutor-like role, and realized that I bonded well and really wanted to promote their interests and accolades. I grew up in a home with a big firm partner/senior litigator and while genetically I did posses some of the same traits and abilities, I had no interest in that as a career. So, I put my passions, my abilities, and my connections together and this is what I decided to do. From there I was fortunate and was awarded an offer to go to Atlanta and work with one of the top agents, Todd France and his firm. I really learned a lot of the business there working in Atlanta with Todd and his executives, but it was tough and I questioned what I was doing several times. Some back home were not as supportive of what I was doing, and thought it was a waste of time or not realistic for a career. It took a lot of soul searching and pondering before I came to the conclusion that I was going to be long-term, all in, on this. That was several years ago, and I have never, ever looked back. I ended working with guys like Tony Gonzalez, Warren Moon, and others at their companies and that was huge as well.
2) With attending law school full time and being an NFLPA Certified Contract Advisor, what is an average day like for you, especially around signing season now?
I get this question a lot. I am married too, with a 2-year old son, which is not very typical for a law student. But I am a little bit older than the average law student as well, and came in with a Master’s degree, and spent two years in a foreign country putting off my undergrad in an ecclesiastical role. I think that my age and my family, and some of that helps me in terms of priorities and focus. To do this most definitely requires a ton of focus and organization, I won’t lie. I am not the first to have done this, your own Darren Heitner was running his own agency in law school, and has been wildly successful. I don’t get a lot of sleep as some in their twenties do, and I have to set aside specific blocks of time for my clients and I have to make enormous sacrifices to what small free time I have. In order to give my clients what they deserve, I am constantly taking calls and working on projects for my clients, pushing off my studying to the early hours of the morning. It comes down to how bad you want something, how committed you are to it, and what you are willing to sacrifice. Let’s just say that for several reasons, you won’t see me at the bar or club ever.
3) What direction do you see your career going once you graduate law school from Chapman University in 2015?
In addition to my emerging athlete representation success, I have been fortunate enough to have worked with a number of firms in sports, business litigation, and employment law. Those are routes I could take in conjunction with what I do, among a number of things. My clients and my representation career will always remain a paramount priority to me, so my future must work in harmony with that.
4) If there was 1 area of the sports agency industry that you could change, what would that be and why?
I am not pleased with the recruitment of players using large sums of money hidden in things such as “marketing advances” or such. I believe that selecting an agent should be based on the amount of effort, skill, expertise, professionalism, and loyalty that an agent will undergo for his clients. Choosing an agent based off his monetary investment in a player over those factors is a reality, and I have been around enough to certainly know that, but not one that this industry should condone or promulgate. It encourages an environment fraught with several ethical, moral, and other issues that is not in harmony with the way this practice and industry should be headed.
5) How did you obtain your first actual client? Can you describe that process for our readers?
I was very upfront about my abilities, my connections to teams, my experiences, but also my limitations. They were the same limitations that all agents experience, in terms of their overall effect on a player’s draft stock, but I wanted to be frank as to what my role was going to be in zealously forwarding my clients’ interests. I pushed a very upfront, honest, and professional approach and relationship as opposed to a presentation and pitch based on flash and little substance. There were a lot of potentials that were expressly not interested in that, but that’s ok, I am interested in those that share my values are interested in a relationship based off of more than the here and now. Lots of phone calls, texts, visits, and such were made to forge the relationship. I spoke with parents and older siblings, detailing my plan and accolades. The coaches of the player spoke with me directly, asking me questions about my plan and what I could do to aid the player. I focused on players that had the same ethical and moral objectives and viewpoints as I did. I found that my plan and my qualities landed better with them. It took months to find the correct player, I did not simply jump into this with a client, even though I had a large amount of experience, I had to work for it.
6) In 100 words or less, what advice would you give to aspiring sports business professionals who want to work in the sports agency industry?
Be prepared to sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice. You will not make it, or make an impact in this industry without it. Be prepared to sell and be tenacious. You are competing against those whose abilities and resources are more than you can imagine, it will take everything you have and more. Be committed to the business and your clients; you won’t make it without it.