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Sam Tiger: Fierce Female in Football

The world of female sports agents, while small, has notable names you may not have been privy to as of yet. There has been a lot of publicity surrounding female agents in big agencies, but Sam Tiger is dominating in the game of boutique firms. Certified with the NFLPA, Sam is helping to shatter the glass ceiling for women in sports. She is personable without being arrogant, and helpful without expecting a quid pro quo. Not only does she run a successful agency, Sam Tiger Management, but she has translated her knowledge of the business into a podcast called “Beyond the Negotiation,” where she and guests discuss what it is actually like to be an agent.
Sam has a passion for her clients, and for helping the next round of up-and-coming females break through the barriers they have faced on their path to working in a male dominated arena. Sports Agent Blog sat down with Sam Tiger to get more information on forging her own unique path, and the reality of being a fierce female in football.

SAB: Tell me about your path to working in sports? You are not an attorney, and I find there is still this idea that all agents are attorneys.

ST: Yes, that is correct. My path in the sports world started back after I graduated with my undergraduate degree in Sports Management. I took a position in college football working in team operations with the Orange Bowl. That position really allowed me to experience so many areas of the sports industry and how each department collaborates to create an elite experience for the teams playing in the game, as well as the fans. During my time with the Capital One Orange Bowl, I learned the foundation of football operations, marketing, media relations, community relations, events, finance, and sponsorship. I took a similar position with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta and continued to develop and build my skillset.

Although I enjoyed my time working in college football, I really knew I wanted to work towards a career in the NFL. It took a little time before I decided I wanted to pursue the agency route. Sam Tiger MGMT began as a boutique marketing agency that I transformed into a full-service agency after passing the NFLPA exam.

There is not one ‘traditional’ route that agents take. I think it’s important to look at the bigger picture when deciding to attend law school or another graduate school program. For me, I had a set of skills I learned working in college football that I used in my marketing agency, so it made sense to pursue my MBA. I take continuing education classes that specialize in contracts, negotiation, and whatever else I can do to better myself for my clients.

SAB: Tell me about this last draft. How did you prepare and what happens after your guy was chosen?

ST: This draft cycle seemed a lot more ‘normal’ than 2020 did! It’s a pretty structured cycle each year that involves our clients heading out to train after their last game or college bowl game. They’re training at a performance facility or sometimes their school for about 8 weeks. During that 8-week period they will attend an All-Star game if they are invited as well as the NFL Combine if they are invited. This year we did not have the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, so that was a change for us as agents. That time is important for us to connect with teams regarding our clients (even if they are not invited to the combine). They finish out that approximately 8-week period with their College Pro Day. After that the players usually head home or back to train for a little bit until the draft. If your clients name is called during the draft that is great! However, if their name is not called, they can get signed as an UDFA (undrafted free agent). After the draft it becomes very important as an agent to work very quickly to ensure that you weigh out the best opportunity for your client if there are multiple teams interested. Sometimes that is a decision you must make in a couple minutes. It’s a rush, but most definitely a relief once that client is signed.

SAB: How do you recruit players?
ST: Recruiting doesn’t always look the same for me each year and for each prospective client. I will send a message on social media or email to some prospects because that’s the easiest way to initiate a conversation. There are also situations where I meet a prospect in person after a game. If you are an independent boutique agency like me, recruiting can be a challenge at the start while you begin to establish yourself.

When it comes to the business of how do I know who to recruit? That is something that involves a combination of knowing what it takes for an athlete to make it at the next level (spoiler- its way more than just film). For the most part there are usually many agents going after the same players in a recruiting season, personally for me to stay competitive I rely on building trusting relationships. For me that looks something like reaching out to prospective clients very early on, speaking with their families, making a trip to meet them in person, and let them know I’m available if they have any questions. Trust does not happen overnight, so for me to build a trusting relationship with a prospective client it’s a marathon not a sprint. I always like to put myself in the players and their families’ shoes and ask myself “What would I feel like or want to know” if I was them during this time. It can be very confusing, and the process happens fast so I like to make sure I’m making things as comfortable, transparent, and clear as possible.

SAB: What do you think is the most common misconception about working as a female agent?

ST: I think the most common misconception in my role as a female agent is that we are less qualified to work in a male sport because we are women. I do want to say, I have never felt any team organization treated me differently or less qualified because I am a female agent. I think it’s a cultural issue where some people do not believe women understand football to the extent that a man does due to the fact football is still considered a prominently male played sport. This way of thinking trickles into my role as an agent where some people have the misconception that women are less qualified because we did not play football. Now, don’t get me wrong an agent who is a former football player does have an advantage that we do not, but there are also advantages and things that make us ‘different’ as women that make us absolutely qualified for this position. My hope for each prospective player I recruit is that he selects the right agent for him and his future whether that agent is a man or woman.

SAB: There really does seem to be a feeling of camaraderie with certain women in sports. Who has been the most influential in your journey?

ST: Yes, there most definitely is. Hands down, Kelli Masters. She really paved the way for female NFL agents like me, and she did it independently. She has been the ‘first’ to open heavy doors for so many women in football but also the sports agency arena in general.

SAB: Do you think it is important for women to have a mentor in this industry?

ST: I think it’s important for everyone to have a mentor in this industry, but yes women especially so you have someone you trust and feel comfortable with as you navigate through situations in your career. It’s also important to have a small circle of friends in the industry that understand the culture, demands, and unorthodox ways of the industry. There have been several times where something happened with a client and I thought to myself “Wow, I have no clue how to even handle this.” And I was able to call Kelli or one of my male agent friends and immediately after telling them what happened I got the response, “Don’t stress- that happened to me.” The relationships I have with these agents who’ve mentored me and become close friends in the industry are priceless.

SAB: Big agency vs. boutique agency. What is your perspective on the pros and cons of each?

ST: The million-dollar question. I can only give my perspective from what I’ve seen and discussed with other agents who’ve worked at large agencies. I believe some of the major pros at a large agency are resources, recognition, and working with a large team of people with multiple departments. Some cons of working at a large agency can be having less interaction in the process if you’re assigned to one specific area such as scouting/recruiting. In that example an agent would be less involved after a client is signed to a team. The pros of being a boutique agency is it’s an all-hands-on deck approach for the most part. I’m overseeing every aspect of the agency operations from scouting, recruiting, marketing, communication with teams, client relations, as well as operating the agency which is a business. To me- I see that as a pro because it keeps me busy, and no two days are the same. It also allows me to develop trusting relationships with my clients and their families due to the close family atmosphere I developed with my agency. I think something that can be seen as a con for both large and boutique agencies is the demands of the career itself. This career does not allow for time off and does not necessarily have set work hours. It’s not a fit for everyone and no two agents operate the same, however it’s the most rewarding career on the planet and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

For more information on Sam Tiger Management, please go to:

Follow Sam Tiger on Instagram @samtiger_agent

Follow Sam Tiger on Twitter @samtigermgmt

Listen to the “Beyond the Negotiation” Podcast on Apple, Audible, or the Bleav Podcast Network