One of the things I am learning about in this business of Football is that there is very little agency’s can do too enhance or create opportunity for players,. Short of being ready and keeping an open mind and helping the player understand they don’t control the situation and that neither the media or anyone other then the brain trusts of each team know what they are thinking and are going to do. Furthermore, teams aren’t always going to telegraph it and you will know when they tell you. An agent is just a facilitator and a good agent is one who teaches his players how to manage expectations and to be prepared for the unexpected. Because in the end professional football is a gift to the privileged few not a right. And make no mistake it is not a democracy, it is all controlled at the team level as it should be by sophisticated and professional people in an organized fashion. Players create opportunity for themselves, not agents. The role of the agent is to help a player understand reality, self-evaluation and to have realistic goals, not just big ego’s.
The events of the last few days are all telling. Why does a young talented athlete like Geno Smith think that his agent or anyone else for that matter could have improved his position in the draft. The fact of the matter is Smith fell in the draft because those evaluating him saw flaws in his game, and maybe in his personality that caused him to slip to the top of the 2nd Round. He found a good home with the Jets, but the first round of the draft is for sure things not projects and for whatever reason Geno looks like a project not a sure thing. So, he didn’t get picked in round one and he didn’t get first round money. The only one shocked was Geno because he has unrealistic expectations and the people around him obviously could not manage those expectations. Subsequently, he fired his agents, announced the Jets will make the play offs and has put enormous undue pressure on himself, in now what is a potentially explosive environment for him and his team mates in particular Mark Sanchez who is guaranteed 8.25 million this year.
Maybe the whole business of representation is not functioning correctly. You have all these agents chasing all these guys telling them they are going to get them ungodly sums of money and starting jobs that they don’t control and have zero influence over the people making those decisions. Yet that is what is being sold and promised. First of all, all NFL contracts pay BIG MONEY and pay scales are all slotted in the First Round after that there are veteran contract minimums, etc. Agents are negotiating NLTBE’s ( Not likely to be earned) And LTBE’s, (Likely to be earned) bonuses, playtime bonuses, workout bonuses and roster bonuses within a system and a cap limitation, It’s not rocket science. If you have a player signed, he and the agency are going to get paid, because everyone who gets to an NFL roster is making lots of money.
Agents/Representatives should be working with the players to educate them about the NFL system and teaching them how to have realistic expectations and that most of it is based on your talent, your body of work in College, your mental focus and attitude and evaluation by Professional Organizations with systems in place. You are going to earn that roster spot or starting job on the field not in the draft room. Agents should help players decipher interest in them or lack thereof and work with players to mentally and physically prepare for what is next.