Jack Bechta is an NFLPA Certified Advisor who is not afraid to speak his mind. He has been in the business of representing professional football players for almost two decades and his engine has not experienced any wear. Jack is the owner of JB Sports Inc, which has a valuable list of clients and a fantastic domain name (nfladvisor.com). Jack’s current list of clientele includes Jonathan Babineaux, Al Harris, and Chester Pitts. Besides running the day-to-day operations at JB Sports, Bechta has become an active participant at the National Football Post. I have linked to his articles more than once on this site. Jack recently talked with me about his background, the state of the NFL, and advice for our readers. The interview is below.
Darren Heitner: You are coming close to 20 years of negotiating deals for NFL players. Which period in that long term was your most enjoyable, and why?
Jack Bechta: Probably 1993 through 1998. In ’93 I had a 2nd-rounder (OL Todd Rucci), a 3rd-rounder (OL Earl Dotson), and a UFA (CB Curtis Buckley) who all went on to be very successful. That was my breakout year, and the next several years were fun because I had the business somewhat figured out. Rucci became a very close friend, and in that period I signed guys like Tim Dwight, Adam Treu and Todd Washington, all of which I grew very close to because my clientele was still small. A few of these guys would live with me in the off-season, and we would travel together to places like Tahoe, Australia and Mexico. Good times!
Darren Heitner: You have negotiated over 200 NFL Contracts. Which one or two were the most creative deals, what were the creative terms, and how did you go about placing those terms into the contract?
Jack Bechta: For Todd Rucci in 1993, he was one of the first players ever to have a voidable clause in his contract under the new CBA. Also, I once had a weight clause in Dotson’s contract. If he reported under 320, he would get $100k bonus. We used it to make a make up a gap. I told Earl the number was 315, so he made it every time.
Darren Heitner: You are one of the brave few agents who has the courage and time management skills to represent talent and blog about it. How do you manage the load?
Jack Bechta: It’s pretty easy, actually. I try to keep my blogs to about 500 words, and I just write about current events and things I know well once or twice a week. Writing has actually made me a better agent, because I now pay attention to every single piece of information in the blogosphere and on our site. I am more informed than I ever have been. I also like educating young people, players and parents on the inner workings of the industry. A lot of agents try to make this business mystical, and I try to demystify it and make it more professional.
Darren Heitner: What benefits do you and your clients get from your regular postings at NationalFootballPost.com?
Jack Bechta: I won’t use NFP as a tool to help myself or my clients. However, they will benefit by getting some national exposure when I write about them.
Darren Heitner: You played college football. How has that helped you relate to clients? Has it helped you in your representation of athletes?
Jack Bechta: I understand what it’s like to go to camp, stay in shape, get hurt, get concussions, get a job, lose a job and be a rookie and a vet. A coach once told me there are football players, and there is the rest of the world. I feel I am in a unique fraternity. Although I played at small Texas A&M, we were big on football pedigree. We had 3 to 5 guys go pro the years I was there, including Hall of Famer Darrell Green. Gene Upshaw was an alum and visited a few times. Basically, it helps me tremendously. I can talk the language, and I am never starstruck.
Darren Heitner: How bad is client stealing amongst NFLPA certified agents? What can be done to curb the practice of client stealing?
Jack Bechta: It’s pretty bad. When a good player nears the doorstep of free agency, the wolves start to circle. So far the NFLPA has done very little to stop it. The problem is they need the player to turn in the wolf, and they won’t do it. I wrote a little bit about a client of mine who was approached by another agent in one of my NFP articles.
Darren Heitner: What’s your beef with Leigh Steinberg all about?
Jack Bechta: I don’t have a beef with Leigh. I actually respect him as a marketer, as he was the first agent to play to the media. However, I have little respect for the latter part of his career because I know some things that are downright disgusting relating to his behavior as a person and an agent. To this date I believe the rookie deal he did for Bledsoe in 1993 exponentially set the stage for rookie contracts today. Unfortunately, i know too much. I am rooting for him, though, to over come his addiction problems, especially since my father was an alcoholic. He’s a pioneer, and I wish him well, but I also tell it like it is.
Darren Heitner: How many years were you in this business before you started earning a profit? What kind of expenses go into being an agent?
Jack Bechta: It took me about 5 years to become a full-time agent. But things were different then. We didn’t have to pay for training, room and board, so my business has always been profitable. A beginning agent will need about $100k to get started.
Darren Heitner: I could not help but notice that you list your high school G.P.A. and class rank on your company website. What’s that all about?
Jack Bechta: I’m not sure, actually. I like to let people know what part of the country I am from. I treat my website like a resume, and college football players are only 4 or 5 years removed from high school, so they can relate. You can never give too much info about yourself – people want to know who you are.
Darren Heitner: What advice would you give to those in their early twenties who want to break into this industry?
Jack Bechta: The #1 rule is: Don’t be naive. This is the most competitive business on the planet. If you want to hear more of my thoughts on this topic, I’ve actually written quite a few posts over at NFP. “Cracking the Agent Business”, “Two Paths to Becoming an Agent”, and “Becoming an Agent Part Two”.
Darren Heitner: Anything else you would like to add for our readers?
Jack Bechta: The sports world can always use more hard working professionals who have the best interest of the players in mind!