June 7, 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: Jon Howard
Neil's brief primer: A Maryland resident, Howard attended the University of Arizona as an undergrad and the University of San Diego for law school. While he only played high school football, Howard got interested in the football business when his brother, Jeremiah, and a couple of buddies who played college football pursued the NFL and CFL. Howard enjoyed helping his brother and friends so much that he made it his goal to help athletes achieve their dreams.
Active NFL clients: Two clients signed as undrafted free agents after the draft: Packers DC Randall Jette (Massachusetts) and Redskins DC Mariel Cooper (The Citadel), who originally had a tryout with the team.
Why did he become an agent?: "I love sports and I love football specifically. I really enjoy the training aspect of it. I enjoyed helping my brother and my friends get prepared to go through their combine and pro days. I'm very interested in sports and I think the combination of being a lawyer and trying to find a way to do something with sports, because sports is what I'm really passionate, about made sense. So I figured I would try out to become an agent."
Day job: Lawyer at Futrovsky, Foster and Scherr, Chartered, for a little over seven years. "It provides me an opportunity to help people in a unique way, which I like about it."
His take on the NFLPA exam: "I've taken the California bar and the Maryland bar so I'm pretty used to taking tests . . .  but it wasn't an easy test. The passing rate wasn't very high from last year. Not an easy test but I tried to study as much as I could for it. The one good thing about taking that test and studying for it was it did prepare me for the kinds of things that would come up, especially for a first-year agent, like the different lists players would be on and the signing bonuses and the salary cap. The test does a good job explaining all of that information."
Hardest part of being an agent: "Finding clients is not easy. Finding them, building relationships with guys, is a fundamental part of doing this, and it helps being a lawyer because I have to deal with relationships with people in that area of my business life, so I think it translates well. I think finding the guys, especially for a first-year agent, when you don't have the experience to show them that you represented a first-round or second-round guy, is the hardest part."
He felt like he'd had a successful first year as a contract advisor when: "When both my guys were signed. It was great. When Randall signed not long after the draft, to call him on the phone to tell him he was going to Green Bay was an unbelievable feeling. When we got the call for Mariel, it was a big deal because we'd been looking for him to get into a camp. It was a huge deal just getting him into camp.  He always told me, 'Give me a sign, and I'll run with it.' And he did. He proved himself and he got signed. Those three were big moments that confirmed all of the work I had done."
Lesson he learned that he wished he'd known last summer: "One thing that I've recently learned is not every team is going to see your guy the same way. Some teams can see him as a fringe guy or other teams can see him as a potential late-rounder and other teams can see him not even as rookie mini-camp guy. Just because one team says they're interested, it doesn't mean other teams are. . . Also, building relationships with scouts is crucial. You have to keep pushing these guys on them and convincing them that your guy can actually play. I didn't know how crucial that was."

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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