Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning at WorkInSports.com and this is the Work In Sports podcast…
With the NFL draft in the rearview mirror I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time researching and understanding the fit of the players my team, the New England Patriots, selected.
But back on track, I’m researching these players, even down to the undrafted free agents and how much guaranteed money they signed for, yes I am a dork, and I’m realizing a theme.
I think a lot of prospects get bad info.
Here’s what I mean -- I hear a lot of this “well, my agent told me he thought I’d go in the 3-4th round, so I was a little disappointed going in the 6th and now i have a chip on my shoulder to prove everyone wrong.”
Now this isn’t limited to the Patriots, and it isn’t limited to this year. I’ve been listening to these same quotes for the 25 years I’ve worked in the sports industry. Every year it’s the same routine, a lot of overpromising to hype their player, and then underdelivering and blaming it on the process.
It’s maddening to be honest. And kind of a theme for our world right now, over-promise and pat yourself on the back, stretch the truth or flat out lie to get someone to like you, and when it doesn’t go as you predicted -- look to blame someone else and avoid responsibility.
Sound like anyone you know? We all know people like this.
But let’s relate this to player agency -- there should be power in honesty. There should be situations where the most honest, researched, competent, and thorough agents get the clients. Maybe that happens, but I fear more often than not, the agents that over-promised and over-hype land the deals.
In a sad way it makes sense -- picture yourself as a 20-year-old headed to the NFL draft deciding who should represent you. One agent hypes you up big time, you are a 2nd round draft pick, teams love you and I’m going to help you get sponsorships and fast cars!
Then the next agent says - based on my research, teams will start showing interest in you in the 5th round, but the 6th-7th round is likely. Here are the teams you fit best with, here’s what your contract could look like in those rounds, here’s what these teams fear about you, and here’s what you need to tell them, let’s get prepped for the combine with my team and see if we can’t get you in that 5th round or higher.”
You, the prospect, may think -- person B doesn’t believe in me...and therefore pick the human hype machine.
This is frustrating, but an understandable cycle. Telling people what they want to hear, is more effective than telling them the truth.
Every once in awhile, athletes see through the facade. I’m sure there are hundreds of these examples, but one that comes to mind is Baker Mayfield. Leading up to the 2018 draft Mayfield had a decision to make on an agent.
His family was approached by every major agency in the country and many of those agents promising that they could get him drafted No. 1 overall. And according to published reports at the time, this puffery didn’t go over well with the Mayfields.
I like this. Their BS meer was on high, knowing what agents can and can’t accomplish. Don’t over commit on things you can’t control, tell me what you really can do for me.
Mayfield ended up choosing today’s guest - Jack Mills - an OG of the agency game.
Over 50 years in the business, Jack Mills doesn’t have to pump up anyone. He’s represented #1 draft picks before -- Irving Fryar in 1984 and George Rogers in 1981. Heck in 1984 he represented the #1 and #2 pick ...and in 1983 he represented the #2 pick in the draft, a guy you may have heard of Eric Dickerson.
The best thing Jack and his son Tom were able to do for Baker, was to be honest...and help him with an overall strategy to the process.
As former Dallas Cowboys personnel executive and Hall of Famer Gil Brandt said about Mills, “I have known Jack forever, Jack Mills is a solid, solid, solid individual. … Everybody likes the guy.”
And you know what, after this interview, I think you will too. Here’s Jack Mills:
Listen in to the Work in Sports Podcast!