Neil's brief primer: Malki started off in real estate, and had plenty of success closing deals in South Florida before the market took a downturn in the mid-00s. At that point, he had gotten certified as an NFLPA contract advisor in '05 and worked with Denver-based All-Pro Sports. He dropped his NFLPA certification in '07, however, when he found his niche in the world of MMA, and soon he came to represent some of the biggest names in the sport, including
Frank Mir and other well-known fighters. He decided to get back into the NFL ring in 2014, taking the exam again and regaining his certification due to "unfinished business' in football.
Active NFL clients: Packers DC
Ladarius Gunter (Miami, Fla.) and Dolphins DT
Ellis McCarthy (UCLA) both signed as undrafted free agents immediately after this spring's draft.
Editor's note: Malki now has 22 active NFL clients, including two first-rounders, TE
David Njoku (Cleveland) and IB
Reuben Foster (San Francisco), in 2017.
Why did he become an agent?: "Originally, I had the real estate business and met a lot of athletes, and lots of them told me I'd be a great agent and I should give it a shot. If athletes hadn't told me to do it, I'd have stayed a fan, but everyone who doesn't make it to the next level as a player, they see this as the next step."
Day job: CEO of First-Round Management, one of the premier agencies representing MMA fighters.
His take on the NFLPA exam: "It was a lot tougher this year than the first time I took it in '05. I can tell you that much. The way they presented the material, you really had to study the CBA and all the material, from beginning to end, because the test had a lot of things on there. But if you pass the test, you know you can do anything in the NFL. It's the entrance exam into the NFL. I'm kinda glad they do it that way. In the MMA, there is no test."
Hardest part of being an agent: "For me, it's the travel. It's being away from the family. I have a 9-year-old daughter and I'm a single dad, so having to miss the special times is the hardest part. I love the camaraderie, and going to the fights is unbelievable, though watching them lose is hard, and you take it personal. But if you put away the sport and look at it as a business, it has to be the time away from family."
He felt like he'd had a successful first year as a contract advisor when:
". . . when Ladarius and Ellis make their teams this fall. I think for any agent, their success comes when their client has s
uccess. Signing a deal was a step in a goal, but making a roster and fulfilling their lifelong dreams will be real success."
Lesson he learned that he wished he'd known last summer:
"I got out of football first time around when the real estate market crashed and it became unaffordable. Now that I have had success in MMA, the only lesson I relearned was to spend money wisely and not to overextend myself, because it can get costly."