June 13, 2019

This email is directed at any NFLPA-certified contract advisor interested in how the NFL draft works as well as the months leading up to the draft. Note: We are not endorsed, sponsored, or otherwise affiliated with the NFLPA.
2019 Case Study: A.J. Vaynerchuk
Neil's brief primer:   A.J. is co-owner of VaynerSports, an athlete representation firm, and also the former COO of VaynerMedia, a social media-first digital agency and a Fortune 500 company. After a couple years helping run VaynerSports, he took the exam and got certified last summer.
Active NFL clients : Boston College IB Connor Strachan signed with the Titans as a UDFA after this spring's draft. He also represents 11 active NFL clients in addition to Strachan. No rookie agent has more active clients than A.J.
Why did he become an agent?:   "It intersected with my two biggest passions, business and sports. I understood the client services background so it was a very easy transition. And most importantly I wanted to make an impact on these athletes."
Day job:  Co-owner and CEO of VaynerSports.
His take on the NFLPA exam:  "I went in with the mindset that I could not fail this exam. I overprepared for the exam and studied very in-depth. My advice is to go into the exam with the mindset that they are trying to trip you up with the way the exam is worded." 
Hardest part of being an agent: " The hardest part of being an agent is learning to deal with things that are out of your control. For instance, there were a lot of injuries (among) our clients last year here at VaynerSports. Obviously, injuries are out of our control, and we hate it for our clients, but in this industry, you have to learn to deal with things that you have no control over."
He felt like he'd had a successful first year as a contract advisor when:  "I felt like we VaynerSports had great recruiting and player acquisition in our first year but I did not want to judge our overall success or failure in year 1." 
Lesson he learned that he wished he'd known last summer:  "This question is difficult for me to answer just because I am in such a unique position compared to most first-year agents being a co-owner and CEO. I am hiring agents to work for VaynerSports. Therefore, I do not think I am in a position to answer this question because my situation is the outlier compared to most first-year agents."

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Sincerely, Neil Stratton
Inside the League

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