Neil's brief primer: Born and raised in the Washington, D.C., area, John was the first all-state athlete in his high school's history. He went on to play offensive line at Virginia from 2008-12, but after two shoulder surgeries and irregular playing time, he knew he wasn't NFL material. He went on to law school at Liberty University, where he graduated in the top five in his class. He took and passed the NFLPA exam last summer.
Active NFL clients: Shepherd DE
Elijah Norris signed as a UDFA with the Bears.
Why did he become an agent?: "Since high school, I've always had a passion for sports and a passion for the legal side of things, and it was a perfect intersection for me to become an agent. The more I learned about it, the more appealing it was, and playing at Virginia and seeing some of the things players dealt with was an eye-opening experience. I knew I wasn't going pro so this was the best way to stay in the game. I'm not just in it for the money, but it's kind of a ministry for me, as well."
Day job: Richmond-based attorney in real estate and estate planning with Kase and Associates.
His take on the NFLPA exam: "
I started studying my tail off about four months in advance. At first, I was just literally reading the CBA from front to back and the booklet they sent us. Then I got
from you, and that really helped me focus on things, and then
the practice exam
. After taking the bar exam, I felt I could pass any test in the world. I took that practice exam four times. I was really prepared, but I walked out of there not knowing if I passed or not. I thought it was really tricky. Some of the question are really vague."
Hardest part of being an agent: "Resources. There's no doubt in my mind I'm just as good an agent as these big guys, but I don't have the money to throw around. With that (limitation), you're really restricted on who you can go after. I'm not a trust fund kid. I represent coaches, too, so that helps me fund this without having to tap into personal funds. But that's what keeps me from representing some of the really big players. It's amazing how much money goes into the game right now."
He felt like he'd had a successful first year as a contract advisor when . . .: "When I had four guys in camp. That was pretty cool. I'd also say when I had several QB coaches from teams calling me personally, saying they wanted one of my guys, especially the team I grew up rooting for, the Redskins. That was pretty cool."
Lesson he learned that he wished he's known before he got certified: "I'd say just the cost of the business and the volatility of your whole business relying on 21-year-old kids. I was from a good upbringing and I had some awesome clients, great guys who are grateful for everything I do for them."