At the College Gridiron Showcase I attended this past week, I got to speak with several people. Their roles in the organization varied from player, to scout, to event staff. Of all the different roles I encountered, there was no perspective more interesting than that of an agent. A football agent’s perspective is vastly different than what I had previously assumed, and on a completely different level than any other of the occupations at the CGS.
I spoke with Rilio Mastrantonio, an NFLPA certified and CFL licensed contract advisor, who works with Capital Sports Advisors. Rilio was just as remarkable of an interview as any other. To be honest, I have spoken to players before. I have spoken to managers, coaches, and other various front office personnel. Before the College Gridiron Showcase, I had never spoken to an agent. What Rilio had to offer was insightful, eye-opening and extremely interesting.
I asked Rilio what an agent looks for in taking on a player. “We do independent research, gather film and opinions from professionals. We find out about the player, his character. Geographical location plays a role as well. Once we have that, we actively recruit the player,” Mastrantonio answered. I found it interesting that he did his own leg work. He himself was out there looking into the players, and outlining potential signees.
Mastrantonio spoke on his marketing ability and just how crucial it was. He mentioned that the main goal is to get his players in front of as many NFL teams as possible. He noted that you want to be somewhat selective, but overall, you get the players in front of every team possible. “If you have a defensive end that specializes in the 3-4 defense, you talk to those teams. But you still talk to the teams that run a 4-3 as well,” Mastrantonio commented.
The fascinating aspect of an agent that we discussed, was the relationship they have with players. It’s a fine line between being a businessman and friend. “We are there for total player care, 100%,” Mastrantonio noted. When going in depth with him on this topic, I learned some interesting points.
Agents have contacts for everything. Their job doesn’t stop once a player gets signed. If any player has issues with finances, housing or anything else, an agent has a contact for it. They have financial advisors, real estate agents, and a host of other experts, all on file, ready to help a player with any and every need they may have. Mastrantonio described how players are people too. “Outside of the contract, outside of football, they have a whole other aspect to their lives. We are there for that as well.”
Rilio Mastrantonio was easy to talk to, and he laid it all on the line. As our conversation went along, I got more comfortable with him and started poking at the harder issues of being an agent.
I asked him if he ever had to cut a player loose from their agreement, maybe due to circumstances that made it impossible or highly difficult to represent them. Mastrantonio, fortunately, had never had to personally go through a situation like that. He reiterated that if the right research is done ahead of time, there should never be an issue with any player.
I dove deeper into the darker side of being an agent, and asked Mastrantonio more about players who may have black marks on their record.
BC: Would you intentionally steer conversations with scouts or teams away from discussing a possible issue with your players background?
RM: You steer the conversation away to an extent. But the NFL teams already know. They put so much research and investigation into players, that you can’t hide anything. And honesty is always the best. Never lie and never try to hide anything. It’s all public information, and lying or hiding will only comeback to hurt the player and you (the agent).
Sticking with the less-than-happy topics, I asked Rilio about the post-draft experience, as in what happens LITERALLY right after Mr. Irrelevant is selected, and their player’s name didn’t get called out.
BC: So what happens the instant the draft is over?
RM: Well, the one thing you hopes happen is that the phone starts ringing within ten to fifteen minutes. This would be teams calling to invite you to camp. You have about five minutes to talk to your client and make a decision, or all the offers start disappearing.
BC: And if the phone doesn’t ring?
RM: You start calling teams. Call the teams that showed interest, and see if you can get your player into camps. If that doesn’t work, start calling every other team. You call everyone to see who has a spot open.
This process seemed the most intense to me. Sitting and hoping your guy gets his name called is stressful enough. But if that doesn’t happen, then you have to hope someone calls you. Finally, if that phone is still silent, everyone gets to work. Dozens of calls are made, and the “selling your player” continues.
Overall, talking to Rilio Mastrantonio was an informative experience. He has four players at the College Gridiron Showcase: Anthony Warrum, Trenton Norvell, Aaron Bailey and Joel Bouagnon. He looks forward to them having a great experience at CGS, and moving on to the next level of football.
Mastrantonio wanted to mention one thing specifically:
“I want to especially thank CGS for providing an opportunity for these boys. I want to thank everyone involved here, and in every bowl game or showcase that allows players to present themselves.”