Ed Wasielewski became a licensed sports agent in 2003 after graduating Villanova University and Temple University School of Law.
His passion for sports from a young age followed him to college where he earned an internship working with the NHL team the Hartford Whalers. While Wasielewski interned with many sports teams, he also gained experience working with athletes by getting them workouts and placed with teams. He cultivated a passion for the business side of the sports world and used his expertise and education to start his own sports management company.
In 2005, Wasielewski founded his company, EMG Sports, which allows him to think outside the box and find creative solutions to assist clients on and off the field. Last year Cody Latimer became Wasielewski’s highest drafted player, a 2nd round pick for the Denver Broncos.
Currently representing 24 NFL players, Wasielewski’s legal background allows him to advise and insure his players’ best interest in areas such as contract negotiations and business ventures.
D’Bria: If you could give the 18 year old Ed advice about being successful in the industry, what would it be?
Ed: I would tell him to write down short-term and long-term goals. And don’t be afraid to follow your passion even if there are changes and detours along the way. Embrace the journey and don’t focus too much on the destination. When I was 18, I remember scribbling in a few high school yearbooks that I wanted to be the General Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. That didn’t happen (or hasn’t happened yet), but my passion for sports and helping others turned into a career as an NFL agent where I’ve worked with some of the best people and athletes in the business. It’s important to write down goals. Unless you write it down, it’s just an idea and not a goal. Even if people don’t share my vision, that’s okay, I can take ownership in my vision and work to get results.
D’Bria: Did you have prior experience in the sports industry? Why did you decide to sit for the NFLPA exam and become a certified agent?
Ed: I started doing internships at Villanova and then back home, including stints with the Harford Whalers (twice) and two minor league basketball teams. Eventually, this led to a full-time position in the Washington Capitals ticket sales department. Through these early experiences, that’s where I really felt my passion was sports and helping others. I began assisting some local football players with getting workouts for minor league teams. I went to Temple Law School because I wanted to further my career in sports and felt that a law degree would serve me well. Once I started working with players, I knew right away that this was my calling and I wanted to take the exam to follow my passion. I’m living the dream every day.
D’Bria: What was the first contract you negotiated? What was that experience like?
Ed: I represented one player, University of Virginia safety Jermaine Hardy, prior to the 2005 NFL Draft. Jermaine was a terrific college player, a fearless tackler, and a person of high character, but he ended up going undrafted because of a prior ACL injury. As the draft concluded, Jermaine was not selected. Without a team, my job was to negotiate a free agent contract for my client. The post-draft process was fast-paced with down-and-dirty negotiations with NFL teams trying to sign their highest-rated, undrafted players. It was a pure adrenaline rush to be going back and forth negotiating with three or four teams, fielding calls, taking offers, exchanging contract terms on the fly, reviewing NFL team depth charts with my client, and then finally picking one team. While it was Jermaine’s ultimate choice, we decided together that the Arizona Cardinals were the best fit. Jermaine looked to me for guidance and trusted my advice throughout this process. It was real teamwork and a truly rewarding experience.
D’Bria: After your first major recruitment pitch, what are some things you learned that will help you moving forward?
Ed: One of my first meetings was with a little-known, undersized linebacker from Rutgers University, Gary Brackett. After his senior season, I arranged for a meeting between Gary, me, and a licensed agent that I was working with at the time. The agent (long out of the business) told me that he wasn’t going to attend the meeting and that he didn’t believe Gary was good enough for the next level; I felt Gary was a team leader, highly productive, and plenty good enough. I decided to nonetheless take the meeting, picked up Gary in my Honda Accord, and asked him where he wanted to go for dinner. Still in law school, I only had about $40 in my wallet, but that was alright because Gary picked a nearby Friendly’s restaurant. We talked for over two hours just getting to know each other better. Gary and I had a natural rapport and I felt he would have signed with our team, but without the agent being there, Gary had no choice but to sign with another Philadelphia-based group. From that meeting, I learned that I could spot the real diamonds in the rough (Gary went onto a lengthy, successful 9-year NFL career) and that you need great teamwork to be successful. I think every recruiting meeting is just another opportunity to learn and improve, ask questions, and then listen and observe. If it’s a good fit, then recruiting is really just a getting-to-know-you process, not a sales pitch on benefits and amenities.
D’Bria: What advice do you have for up and coming sports agents?
Ed: This business requires hard work, patience, and persistence. It’s not for everyone. You really have to embrace the business as a lifestyle choice where you make yourself available to your clients and help guide their careers. Success will not come easily and it will not come without its failures. You have to embrace all of the experiences, good and bad, constantly learning and growing, and have a positive attitude in your everyday work. You never know who is out there watching you work. Your big break could be right around the corner, so you also have to stick to the game plan and give yourself four to five years to really get the right experiences so that you give yourself a chance to build a good reputation and an established brand. Finally, I think up and coming sports agents should immerse themselves in the business by going to seminars where agents are speaking, meet coaches and players, start following people on social media to see how they think, and make daily trips to websites like InsideTheLeague.com, Sports Business Journal, and the Sports Agent Blog.
D’Bria: Currently, there are a small number of top agencies with many clients, and very few small firms that can compete. How can a “solo agent” survive in this competitive market?
Ed: There’s no doubt that the agent business is a very competitive, cutthroat industry. All agents have to find ways to differentiate themselves. Over three years ago, I had eight NFL players and I was looking for a way to separate myself from the pack. I came up with a docuseries show concept with a producer friend, Amani Martin, and that concept was developed into “The Agent”. I feel like a player signs with any agent because there is a trust built between the two. For most players, it’s about the quality of representation, not the size of the agent’s client list. I would recommend the solo agent building solid, mutually beneficial partnerships with outside companies and then creating a team approach for each client. It’s also important for the agent and client to share the same, unique vision now and into the future, making changes and adjustments throughout the career.