Believing in stability as an NFL agent is like buying a used car off a Craigslist ad – the body may show no signs of physical abandonment on its surface, but what’s the likelihood it stalls on the interstate during rush hour traffic? Each day is rigged with long days, gambles and some happy days.
NFL agents face the same dilemma about the trajectory of their career. One day might be full of after parties following a successful draft night, while tomorrow presents itself as a hangover because of a completely different client or other business matter.
In a league that features over 1,600 adult men and nearly 900 certified sports agents, chances of finding one’s footing within the first few years – as an agent – are slim-to-none. But Octagon Football’s Casey Muir points out that that waiting period should be expected for newcomers, but that it also shouldn’t deter one from turning dreams into reality.
During an interview with Inside the League’s Neil Stratton, Casey Muir, Director of Client Management at Octagon, laid out some cardinal rules for aspiring NFL agents (via Succeed in Football):
First, have a plan. My plan was always longevity. I’ve seen countless agents who started at the same time as me, and many who started after, leave the business because they made too many bad business decisions. My thought was always, ‘live to fight another day.’ In my mind, the longer you stay in this business, the more time you have to work on your craft and the greater chance you have of finally breaking through. With that in mind, never forget this is a business. There are only so many hours in the day and so much money in your bank account. You have to make sound business decisions on which players you spend time recruiting and which players you spend your training budget on. If you don’t truly believe a player has a legitimate shot at the next level, don’t waste significant time/money on the player just so you can “play” agent. Live to fight another day.
Second, remember that like most things in life, this business is ‘Relationship and Sales 101.’ How can you connect with each individual player? What can you do to differentiate yourself from every other agent a player meets with? Additional legal services? Marketing expertise? Tax services? Personal attention? Whatever it may be that helps you connect and sets you apart, figure it out, package it and drive that point home.
The best and final piece of advice I can give you is this: You have to want it. I mean really WANT it. The road to success in this business is a long and winding one, and it will not happen overnight. In the beginning, there will be an overwhelming amount of failure and rejection. So much so that you may begin to hear the word ‘no’ in your sleep. You also likely won’t make much money in this business for at least a few years. You will question yourself. Your family and friends will wonder aloud if you’re wasting your time. There will be plenty of times when you want to quit. Do you want it bad enough to fight through the rejection? Are you self-aware enough to learn from the many mistakes you will inevitably make? Do you want it bad enough to work a full-time job, while also spending full-time hours as an agent? Are you willing to put in the early mornings and late nights? Are you willing to give up weekend fun with friends and family? Do you want it bad enough to not quit, despite all the signs clearly pointing you toward the exit?
Loosely translated, the transformation from agent John Doe to agent John Dollars is a never-ending quest of blood, sweat and tears. In an NFL agent’s world, sleep is considered a liability and the only Friday night dates that happen are business meetings between NFL agent and client. At times, the professionalism behind an agent-client relationship breaks down into a multipurpose bond. Surprisingly, there’s a grey area in that regard – whether they’re helping their clients file taxes or simply discovering better ways to market them.
Also, success as an NFL agent is no longer dependent upon gender. Truly, the industry is in the middle of its own renaissance. Not only is the pool of agents growing in number, but so is the number of female NFL agents. Powerhouse names, like Kim Miale, Alexa Stabler and Kelli Masters, are all in it for the long haul with the inner drive to do more for their clients. To them and other NFL agents, less is not more and surplus is too little. As Casey Muir said, “you have to want it” before even considering an NFLPA exam. Be prepared for, receptive to and accepting of overnights in a campus library. Most importantly, get accustomed to some adversity, despite the source – from friends and family to self-doubt.
So long as a beginning NFL agent is consistent with Muir’s philosophy, “live to fight another day,” then success – not necessarily power – is possible.