For people trying to break into the NFL, the sports industry or any industry, I hope you can gain some insight and/or some inspiration from this piece. In no way is this meant to be braggadocious as I am just a really normal, average guy and if I can do this, you can too. I was a horrible student, but I always knew what I loved to do, worked toward that and figured out a way to get by my courses in college at Rhode Island and in Business School at Rutgers.
I had a great week in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine. I went out to meet the agent I work for, Ryan Scarpa from Athlete Advocates as well as just get out to the combine to meet people and network. I met a lot of great people and these are just some of them:
-Mark Dominik – former GM of the Tampa Bay Bucs
-Joel Corry – former NFL agent and the leading reporter on the salary cap
-Andy Benoit – Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) for Sports Illustrated
-Russ Lande – The Big 10 Network and The National Football Post
-Steve Palazzolo – Pro Football Focus Senior Analyst
-Aaron Schatz – Football Outsiders
-Adam Caplan – ESPN NFL Insider
-Mike Tanier – Bleacher Report NFL Lead Writer
-Tom Myslinski – Jacksonville Jaguars, Head Strength Coach
It was encouraging to see the way some people’s faces lit up when I said I wrote for Over The Cap and told me how much they loved the work we were doing there. People like Mark Dominik, a freaking former General Manager of an NFL team and current ESPN writer, and Joel Corry, the most respected cap analyst in media, spoke to me as an equal and that was just cool. It was nice to see Andy Benoit who always gives us a shout out on his wonderful MMQB podcasts.
I even exchanged contact information with some of these people and look forward to talking football with such great minds.
When I asked a question to a panel that included Adam Caplan and Mike Tanier, I stated that I wrote for Over The Cap and they interrupted me with a huge thank you and told me how much they loved our site. It’s just very cool to be a part of such an awesome source with people like Jason and the absolutely incredible work that people like Bryce Johnston and Nicholas Barton are doing.
I went to Sports Management Worldwide’s Conference on Saturday and so often at these events when you’re just starting out, you give people your business card and know they’ll never contact you. In 2014, when I went to sports law symposiums at New York Law School, Villanova and UPenn, I knew the people I gave my business card to didn’t think twice about it. That’s just how you start out in this, you work on networking with people, hoping to impress them somehow and just learn along the way.
At those three symposiums, I began to see the ways into the industry, I began to understand that I knew what I was doing when I heard Darren Heitner from SportsAgentBlog.com speaking at New York Law School. I realized that a lot of the things he spoke of in terms of being an agent were things I already understood, which was a great sign. I knew that much of the future of being a sports agent lies in marketing and business deals, which was a large reason I was confident that getting an MBA was the right decision for my career as an agent.
I also saw Andrew Brandt former NFL agent, former VP of the Green Bay Packers and current writer for MMQB at all three of those events. By the time I saw him at the UPenn one at the end of last February, I said to him about the fact that seeing him at these events made me realized that I had to get to writing about football. That was when I began writing about the salary cap on my personal blog.
Much of those blogs were inspired by the work Jason does over here at Over The Cap. It was when I first started analyzing the market values for quarterbacks and where I began to look at percentage spending of positional groups for the 2013 season and trying to find correlations. It was also around the time where I started e-mailing back and forth with Jason discussing salary cap issues among other things.
Eventually, Jason saw enough of my writing, tweeting and e-mailing that when I asked him during the summer if I could start writing for Over The Cap, he was all for it.
My point with all this is that so many people are wondering how they break into the sports industry and how they “get their name out there.” People go to conferences like the awesome “Sports Management Worldwide Conference” I went to on Saturday to network and hope to find a job. What I keep realizing the more I understand this industry is that being successful in the NFL industry is a long process and you have to do things that separate you from the average person because of how competitive it is. You have to be willing to do things for free to show people how passionate, knowledgeable, and dedicated you are to your field.
What was really eye opening to me in Indianapolis was the way that writing for Over The Cap made people realize that I was serious and the writing and research that I do allows me to have long conversations with such brilliant minds like Joel Corry (who couldn’t be nicer, an awesome guy). So not only does the writing tell people you’re serious, but it allows you to show them you’re serious through your knowledge base on the topic.
So if you’re trying to get into the sports industry, you know what you’re supposed to do, don’t ask someone “how do I get started?” Get started. Start tweeting. Start writing on your own personal blog. Start reading everything you can on whatever your passion is in sports and then write about that in your own unique way because that’s how I got my big opportunity writing for Over The Cap. And then next year, get your ass out to Indianapolis so that you can network with people and learn.
I listened to a ton of podcasts on the 24 hours of driving I did to and from Indianapolis. Chris Hardwick from the Nerdist podcast and Talking Dead on AMC, said to George RR Martin (Game of Thrones) that so many people ask him, “how do I start this?” regarding stand up comedy. And his response is, “If you care about it, you’ll just do it and if it means something to you, you’ll do it. And if you feel like you’re failing you’ll do it anyway. And if you keep doing it, you’re automatically ahead of like 90% of the people who do it. If you just did that, you might have a shot because most people will give up along the way.”
So if any of you want to get involved in an industry that you love, one that’s super competitive, just start figuring out your way to get involved. Everyone SAYS they want to be involved in an industry like the NFL, but what can you do to SHOW people that?
If any of you really love what we do at Over The Cap or any other site like this, just start your own blog on Blogspot or WordPress or whatever, and start writing. If Over The Cap is a site you really love, just start writing and send some stuff that you’re proud of to Jason, he’s always willing to bring people on who can help improve the site.
You can always e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @ZackMooreNFL if you have any questions as well. Just wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned over the last year as I think people need to hear it. Again, everyone says they want to be involved in sports, what can you do to show people this?
Lastly, this whole week really inspired me to start an e-book that will hopefully be released in May where I analyze the salary caps of past Super Bowl winners as well as so an annual assessment of teams from the previous season. Through this, over time, I hope we’ll be able to understand the best way to construct a Super Bowl caliber roster in terms of huge factors like top 10 cap charges, positional spending and the percentages of spending that teams should shoot for.
I’ll be writing most of this, but Jason will be editing it and making sure that everything is accurate. We’re going to make this e-book as cheap as possible, I’m of the Eric Thomas, The Hip Hop Preacher, school of thought of charging 99 cents, but I just want to make sure that it’s economically feasible for an e-book to be 99 cents. Jason and I will be sharing the revenues from it, so it’s going to be a great opportunity for you guys to support us and get something in return. We will also be putting up a donation link in early March, so it’d be fantastic to see some support come our where through there as well.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read this and thanks for supporting OTC. Remember, I’m just a guy, so if I can do this, you can too.
Just follow your passion because with anyone who’s GREAT at anything is very passionate about it.