Think going pro is easy?
The reality is that it’s not. There’s much more to it than simply being an elite athlete.
There are workouts to set up, agents to appoint, contracts to negotiate, finances to deal with and a number of other more technical facets that go unseen by the average football fan.
Warren K. Zola, the executive director of the Office of Corporate and Government Affairs at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, has been tweeting advice for college football players going through the process of signing agents and declaring for the NFL Draft.
The result is a how-to guide trying to make sense of what these college players are facing.
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft is January 15. Those considering making the jump, however, will start to interview agents starting this week with the CFB regular season now concluded.
Many players are undecided about whether they should go pro. It’s a difficult decision. The takeaway here is that if a player makes a preliminary decision to skip his remaining college eligibility, signing an agent eliminates all possibilities of changing his mind. If a player is considering the jump, but still isn’t sure, it’s best to wait on signing an agent or making a promise that he will sign. Once he does, whether he changes his mind or not, he cannot return to his college team to play.
The premise here is simple. Basically, Zola is saying that it’s better not to rush into any agreements. It’s in the player’s best interest to hear what different agents can offer, and then digesting that information at a later date. There’s still plenty of time for a player to make a decision. Because making a poor choice now could damage his draft position later, it’s best to make an informed decision.
This is another thing most college kids don’t know. In fact, it’s good advice for most deals: anything that is agreed to verbally doesn’t carry the weight that a written commitment does. Agents are trying to build trust and show players that they are the best fit for the player’s future. One thing these players often fall victim to is buying into promises agents can’t keep. If the players get it in writing, then they can build a legal case against the agent for failing to live up to the agreement.
College players considering the jump aren’t alone. They can find as much information as they want on agents and their history. There are resources they can use, mainly the league’s Player’s Association.
Other resources they can use?
Players who get drafted will suddenly come into a great deal of money.
Agents serve their role. They’re in place to help look out for the best interest of the player and negotiate a good contract. Where problems arise, however, is when players entrust their finances to those in charge of negotiating. Often, agents are put in a position where they have all the power of a player’s money. That could lead to an agent taking advantage of a player and not being transparent about where his money is going.
Former NFL QB Vince Young accused his agent of defrauding him into a $1.8 million loan in Young’s name. Both parties settled the case Monday.
By separating the power that an agent has with that of a financial adviser, it makes it far more difficult for agents to take advantage of players.
Leading up to the NFL Combine, agents will tell their players that they need to begin training in December in order to post favorable numbers that will increase their odds of getting drafted earlier. Players then make temporary moves to camps where they pay trainers to prepare them for off-season conditioning programs. These facilities are self-sustaining; they provide workout regimens, meals, housing and pre-draft education to prepare prospects for the combine and interview process.
The message here is that players can go to the best facility available, but if they don’t put in the effort to improve, they won’t get the benefits.