Chat with Andrew Brandt
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN's sports business analyst Andrew Brandt stops by to chat about the business side of the NFL.
Brandt, @ADBrandt, who has over 25 years of experience in professional football, both from the management and player representation side, gives fans an insider's view on the business of football.
He is also a lecturer at the Wharton School of Business - teaching Sports Business and Negotiations - as well as the Director of Sports Law at Villanova University Law School. He has written for Forbes, the Huffington Post and Sports Business Journal, while also appearing across all ESPN TV, radio and online platforms. In his time in the football business, Brandt as served as a player representative, a World League GM and a VP with the Packers.
Send your questions now and join Brandt Friday at noon ET!
Andrew Brandt (12:07 PM)
It's good to be back with you after the storm. It's been the subject of everything going on with our power being out this week, but nowhere near the suffering that so many are going through. In that vein, although not necessarily a business of football topic, I've been having some Twitter conversations about the running of the marathon in New York on Sunday. My point was that the outrage about the running of the marathon is understandable but there wasn't similar outrage over NBA games and NFL games being played. The point I'm making is where do you draw the line? I understand resources are required over the scope of the marathon versus the controlled environment of a game, however if the point is that no resources should be diverted from the hurricane, then I think we go down a slippery slope when you say one should be done and not the other.
Andrew Brandt (12:08 PM)
I'm happy to continue questions on that or anything else in the business of football, the Victor Cruz negotiations, the trade deadline, Michael Vick. Fire away!
Should we be having the NYC marathon?
Andrew Brandt (12:09 PM)
I'm hesitating because it's such a personal question to me. On the one hand, I'm a runner and I know the intense training and life decision it is for people to prepare for a marathon. I also know the good will and civic pride that it brings an area. The timing is obviously the problem here.
Andrew Brandt (12:11 PM)
But if I had to answer, I would say yes, hoping the good that it will bring, financially and otherwise, will outweight the negatives with resources. I'm very conflicted on this, but I do think the argument can't go both ways. You can't say a marathon is different than major sports leagues because it operates in a much bigger area. Games require police, ambulances, security personnel, transportation, etc. The fact that it's less than a marathon has bearing, but it's the same.
ESPN recently ran a show about the financial troubles that professional athletes face. Given the news on Tyron Smith this week how much of a role do money-seeking family and friends play in this problem?
Andrew Brandt (12:13 PM)
Great question. The Tyron Smith story has resonated with me because I've seen it from all sides, both as an agent and as a team executive. I've seen the pull that family members have on professional athletes to support them financially. It's something athletes have a hard time - saying no - because it is family. But unfortunately, there are times when family does not have the best interests at heart and are more concerned with their own best interests.
Andrew Brandt (12:16 PM)
When I was an agent, I realized how many people sometimes depend on a player and what kind of pressure a 22-year-old kid can be under, simply by signing a large contract. At times it was my role to be the bad guy to family and friends and, at the players' request, limit their take. As a team executive, I saw the toll that some family members took on players. It even effected performance. I had one player who had a brother staying with him and kept getting in trouble. I called the brother in and told him he's got to lead a different life because he's dragging his brother down in our evaluations. It looks like Tyron Smith has gone through this and now has attorneys involved. What these situations require are very difficult conversations between family members. Players need to either step up and say no or having someone willing to do that.
Andrew Brandt (12:17 PM)
This is a situation that bears watching.
How can a team in London full-time ever possibly make sense (unless they bring back the Concorde)?
Andrew Brandt (12:20 PM)
As former GM of the Barcelona Dragons, I certainly understand the logistical issues involved. I do think a team overseas is possible for the NFL, but not in this decade. If that were to happen, the logistics would include teams having bye weeks after having played in London, as they do now and the London team having 2 or 3 week road trips where they would train inbetween games in the states at some location. They would obviously have to be allowances made for the London players and for free agents to be recruited there. Again, the NFL is expanding their one-game a year to two games a year starting next year. I think that trend will continue, leading up to a new team playing there, with the next CBA which is up 2019. The opportunity for a new and lucrative market for the NFL is too enticing to ignore.
Are the Giants making the prudent decision to lock up Victor Cruz during the season? What are you hearing in terms of the contract parameters?
Andrew Brandt (12:23 PM)
Victor Cruz went on the radio this week to say a structure was in place for a new contract. What I'm hearing is that although there are talks going on, he may have jumped the gun a little bit where it's not to the state yet of agreed structure. Having said that, I think we will see an extension on Cruz certainly before next season when he is scheduled to be a restricted free agent. And perhaps even this season during the Giants bye week, which is one of the latest bye weeks in the NFL. Cruz' story is well documented, coming in as an undrafted free agent, making minimum salaries and performing at a high level. Having said that, he is not going to be a free agent and will have a lesser contract than free agents such as Vincent Jackson this past March. Time will tell what the deal is, but Cruz knows if he doesn't do the deal he is still under rights to the Giants next year as well.
Marc (Malden, MA)
How much of the problem is these kids never had any type of business education? When you were an agent, did you ever have your clients take courses in the offseason?
Andrew Brandt (12:27 PM)
I did and I would never endorse a financial manager, because I did not want to align with anyone. But I would have them meet people and make their own decisions, because I did not provide that service. The same as when I was with the Packers, we used to bring in financial management people to present to players and let them make a decision. Reality is unless an NFL player is a first round pick or receiving a significant veteran contract, there is really little need for investment management. The players should simply take the best money market account he can find and go from there. Unfortunately, the players that needed the financial management the most were the ones least interested in hearing from the managers. The ones who were already good with their money tended to be the most interested. Finally, as I've said before, I'm tried to get the Packers players to get their salaries on a year round basis, instead of just during the season, but very few wanted to do that. And there was much push back from agents as well, who wanted to collect their fees earlier rather than later.
Andrew, what sense does it make for a rookie to hire an agent who's going to take a significant portion of his paycheck, when the total years/money is already set in stone, and the amount of garaunteed money is basically slotted? Wouldn't it make more sense for a player to not hire an agent until his first non-rookie contract, where he'll actually need someone to negotiate?
Andrew Brandt (12:29 PM)
Good question. What's happening is a lot of rookies are negotiating down their agency fees, basing their fees on where they are in the draft and not from dollar one of the contract. It's a natural reaction to the question you raised about the contracts being slotted. Clearly it's difficult for agents to make high margins in that environement. Agents will seel their level of service beyond just the negotiation of the contract, but that's becoming a harder question to answer every year, on whether the agent should make a full fee. Ultimately, that's a negotiation between the agent and the player. But my sense is we'll see agent fees on rookie contracts continue to go down.
Andrew Brandt (12:32 PM)
Great questions as always. Warm wishes to anyone suffering the effects of the storm. Continue debating the marathon and resources issue on Twitter: @ADBrandt. Check out my new column up on ESPN.com on the trade deadline.