Headline What Would You Do...?

What Would You Do…? – Communication Request

After 6 very interesting “What Would You Do…?” posts, the column vanished from this site.  That is about to change.  After receiving quite a few emails from viewers who wished to see the column’s return, we brought on a new contributor, Jim Thompson, to bring it back.  Here is Thompson’s first “What Would You Do…?” post.  Enjoy.

After a couple of years of answering phones, you finally get the big break and become a certified agent with the NFLPA. Although you understand that it is unrealistic to start repping legitimate players right off the bat, the excitement of finally accomplishing your dream of representing NFL players helps you forget all about the up-hill battle that you will face over the first few years of your career. As a couple years go by, you have a clientele of three players, all of whom are practice squad caliber players.

However, you’ve been scouting a wide receiver with spectacular hands and average speed since his sophomore year in college. He goes to a small Midwest school and hasn’t gotten national exposure until the beginning of his senior season, when his school upset a Top-25 program on national television. You’ve been introduced to this player, lets call him Player X, a couple times now – enough times to make it obvious that when his team’s bowl game is completed and the season is over, you want him to sign with you. Because of his emergence in the national spotlight, a couple high profile agents have shown interest in him as well. Initially, this makes you nervous, because these agents have clearly made a name for themselves in this industry, while you are still considered a “rookie” agent. You shake those insecurities away and remind yourself that YOU discovered him, YOU are the one who has built a rapport with him, and it is YOU that has always believed that Player X would be a breakthrough star.

When you first discovered him, he was projected to go undrafted. Now, Mel Kiper is projecting him to be a late 3rd round pick. Todd McShay has been comparing him to Wayne Chrebet all week long. This is YOUR guy they are talking about! Forget practice squad, you could be representing a legitimate contributor to an NFL team!

You go to visit him in his small house, in his small Midwest town, only to be informed that he has narrowed down his prospective agent list to three. Two big, high profile agents, and you. You think to yourself, there is no way I’m going to be able to sign Player X if I have to compete with these two prolific agents. Player X informs you that he needs to take the next 4 or 5 days to think about his decision, and asks that you do not text, call, visit, or email him—as that would clutter his decision making process too much. He tells you that he asked the same of the other two agents in the mix.

A day goes by, then two days. Then three. Still no call. No text. No communication whatsoever. You know that the two agents you are competing with didn’t get to where they are by being passive. You are almost positive that they have been contacting Player X over the past couple days, and you start to think that maybe you should have done the same. It is not too late to give Player X a buzz, but you gave him your word that you would leave him be until you heard otherwise. The great agents have to be aggressive to lock down clients, but you do not want to cross that line and come off as too pushy. The clock is ticking. Day 4 is almost over.

What would you do…?

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

5 replies on “What Would You Do…? – Communication Request”

If you are truly passionate about what you do. If Player X is really a 3rd round pick and stays true to himself. Then it should be a real recognize real situation. He may get tempted to sign with the big name. But you are much closer to his age. You have a report to show you are legit.

Unfortunately this is your 1st major client. The other 2 whales have done this and experienced this first hand. They know from experience, something you cant learn at school.

Reality: You lose this client. But your time will come. You cant dwell on the situation. Move on and wish that player luck. Who knows he may leave and sign with you after a bad relationship goes south and remembers how passionate you were.

There are two things that should happen in this situation. First off, an agent should never allow himself to get into a situation like this. As soon as a player says don’t contact me, the agent must immediately find a counter-solution. Maybe say I’ll call you once at night each day or something that keeps the agent in contact with the player…

However, if you were to find yourself in this situation, I think the answer is fairly simple. If you have truly done a successful job with building rapport and creating a great relationship, you are obviously also very close with the people who matter to him, usually being family.

It is best to respect his wishes but just as you feel you would be the best person to represent him, anything you do is for the goal of betting your (potential) client. It is at this point you should call up the mother, father, or whoever else is close to the player and talk to them. The last thing you want is to sound desperate or pushy but just have a natural conversation and try to get as much information as possible. If and only then you feel your only chance of signing him is by contacting him, make a personal visit to his house and have your closing speech ready.

this situation as most situations in business and life… is about examining all the factors..

its pretty simple – don’t call him or any of his family members. simply text his family members and tell them you enjoyed meeting them and if they have questions please call or text but until then i await your decision. do you think the kid is thinking ” i will tell everybody not to call and whoever disobeys my wishes i will hire them’? no, it has been a whirlwind situation for him and his family and he just wants sometime to think about it and talk it over with his family and coaches… keep in mind the you have put in the time that the big firms have not. they are not going to call them during this ‘quite period’. one reason they are focused more on the top 15 picks along with 1st and 2nd rounders. 2 – they would love to show up and land the client with minimal work, expenses and headaches.

i disagree with Joh G’s opinion that you would lose this client. if this client is from the midwest, is from a small town, his parents come from a modest background, his school has not been highly recruited (by agents) in the past, his family are not friends with other players that have been drafted and he and the family have eliminated all the ‘mid major’ agencies that would more than likely get this kid then i would say you have a legit shot at signing him. the bigger agents could appear to be overwhelming and not fit their style and comfort zone. finally, i dont think age would be a factor. i would not even address age in the meeting because a big agency could bring in a 25 year old kid or a polished 40 yr old or both.

Respect the young man’s request.

If he eventually elects to sign with another firm and does so within the 4 to 5 day window he asked that you not contact him, you will be better off. You will avoid having to deal with his unethical behavior sooner than later.

If the young man makes his decision and signs after that period, you have to respect it, whatever it may be.

I think the way you approach this situation has to reflect what this particular client finds as an “attractive approach.” Keep in mind, we are not talking about the flashy, inner-city wide receiver who might DROOL at an opportunity to work with a big time agency and bring in as much green as possible. This kid seems as though he might thrive with a more personable and genuinely honest agent backing him.

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