Jerry Maguire – my all time favorite sports movie. We all watched that movie and at the end of the two hours, came to understand the sports agent profession thru the eyes of Jerry Maguire. He stayed up late one night, passionate, focused, and driven, writing a mission statement, hoping to change the world. It changed his world alright, it got him fired from the very job he was trying to change.
The 2012 NFL draft has come and gone, now the Jerry Maguire’s of the world go to work. They all have mission statements, whether it’s all about “SHOW ME THE MONEY!” or if it’s a genuine relationship with their clients and wanting what’s best for them. In the great words of Dickie Fox, “The key to this business is personal relationships.” Here is to hoping that the statement rings true in today’s dog-eat-dog world of sports.
In round one, 32 players were chosen by 27 NFL teams. Out of those 32 players, 16 agents were hired to represent the rookies. From the 16 agencies, Creative Artists Agency retained the most first rounders with 7, Athletes First picked up 4, and Lock Metz Malinovic Panos signed 3. Andrew Luck went with an unknown agent, his own uncle, while the Dallas Cowboys first round cornerback, Morris Claiborne, hired the infamous Bus Cook. The question is: do their mission statements look anything like Jerry Maguire’s?
In my research, I learned that CAA’s clients not only include NFL stars, but also the likes of Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, and Julia Roberts. Trent Richardson and Robert Griffin III are in good company. Athletes First clientele include Cowboys Miles Austin and Kyle Orton, along with our favorite coach, Jason Garrett. Rookie wide receiver, Michael Floyd, hopes for a long-term relationship with AF. Lock Metz Malinovic Panos, with former NFL player Joe Panos running the football operations, promises their “history is their strength” over the rest of the agencies. Maybe this is why Chandler Jones, New England defensive end, chose LMMP. All of these agents now have a responsibility to negotiate contracts and bonuses. After the ink is dried and paychecks are delivered, do these agents have any other obligation to these players?
I would like to believe they protect their clients best interests. These young men have been somewhat spoiled, not working a real job, getting a free education, so they are not always savvy to the ways of the world. They have been housed, clothed, pampered by the college they attended. Their checking accounts go from a few dollars to six figures, literally overnight. Someone has to look out for them before they crash and burn, i.e. Dez Bryant.
Bus Cook had no idea that Morris didn’t do well on his Wonderlic test. He should have though. He was hired to prepare his client for the NFL, ready him for the changes he’s going to face as a highly paid athlete. Most of these agents are educated, and most are attorneys, so they “should” have an idea of what to tell these wide-eyed superstars. But the short story is that they are paid to get their guy the most money possible. It is all about the money and as much as we would like to think they care, they do not.
At some point, in a person’s life, they must take responsibility for themselves. Dez, Morris, Robert III, they all have to grow up and act like responsible adults. They hired the agents to represent them, but truth be told, the players only care about the money too. They just want what’s due them, at the end of the day. Long ago it stopped being about the “love of the game” – for everyone involved.
My favorite scene in Jerry Maguire was not “you had me at hello”, but the scene where Rod Tidwell comes out of the locker room surrounded by a crowd. Despite the throngs of reporters recording his every word, Rod seeks out Jerry, for the manliest hug in the history of movies. This touching moment solidifies the premise of the movie…..that Jerry’s “memo” was worth it all in the end. I just wish we had more Jerry’s and less Bob Sugar’s.