June 6, 2016

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.
2015 Case Study: Gary Leibowitz
Neil's brief primer: Leibowitz grew up in Baltimore and attended the University of Maryland as an undergrad, then attended the University of Miami for Law School. A lawyer for 20 years, Gary got into sports law about 10 years ago and has represented professional teams like the Washington Nationals and the Dallas Cowboys as well as stadiums, equipment manufacturers and commercial litigation.  He got certified in the summer of 2015.
Active NFL clients: As of May 2016, his three active NFL clients are Packers OH Don Jackson (Nevada), Panthers OB Jared Barber (West Virginia) and Saints OB Dominique Tovell (La.-Lafayette), all undrafted free agents.
Why did he become an agent?: " About three or for years ago, I started noticing this terrible trend of professional athletes filing for bankruptcy and it was obvious that the vast majority of them were filing . . . because they were not surrounded by trusted advisors and with quality representation that would do more than just help negotiate the contract with their team. They needed advice on everything from asset protection to setting up estates for their families to doing business deals in their post-NFL careers and I wanted to bring the resources that my large law firm has in these areas to these players and help. So I went out and got certified by the NFL and the CFL."
Day job: Leibowitz has been a lawyer for the past 20 years but doesn't differentiate between being an attorney and an agent. "I'm a workaholic. There's 24 hours in a day, I'm a grinder so if I have to work 23 hours a day, I do it. My clients deserve 100 percent of my attention -- every client, whether it's an athlete or a business "
His take on the NFLPA exam: "I think the exam is fair and does a good job of covering the main points in the collective bargaining agreement but I think the industry could be better served if young agents also had some type of mentorship program with more veteran agents to actually learn how these things work in the real world.  Above and beyond the exam, there should be some more hands-on training."
Hardest part of being an agent: "The emotional rollercoaster you have to ride with your players. For every player that has great success, and you enjoy that with, you are also there with players who come up short. With less than 2,000 players in the NFL, not everyone is going to make it. You want the best for them and it doesn't always happen. The other thing is the travel. It's hard to stay healthy during all the travel and it takes its toll on you."
He felt like he'd had a successful first year as a contract advisor when: "When you start getting cell phone numbers of members of the team's front office because that means they find you credible and trustworthy and your reputation in the league is the most important thing."
Lesson he learned that he wished he'd known last summer: "Despite what a lot of people think, the whole priority free agent period and the rookie camp invite period does not end that first night after the draft. It is still possible to get your players signed or invited to a camp tryout as much as a week after the draft ends if you are really diligent, you work hard and you package your player to the right team that has the right need."

Inside The League is the consulting service for the football industry. We work with the contract advisors for about two-thirds of active NFL players as well as the combine trainers, financial planners, scouts, coaches and other pro league organizers that make up the game. Cost is $29.95/month, and you can cancel at any time. To register, click here. Also check out our new free blog, Succeed in Football. Copyright Neil Stratton and ITL.

Sincerely, Neil Stratton
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