By Josh Veltrie
A man who made the cover of Sports Illustrated, helped make the award-winning sports movie, Jerry Maguire, with one of the key characters being based on himself and who has around 170 clients in the NFL came to speak at Rider Tuesday night.
Drew Rosenhaus, the most famous sports agent in the NFL, gave a lecture to the students and staff on campus about how he became the top name among sports agents.
Rosenhaus went to Miami for his undergraduate degree before attending Duke for law school.
“When I was at Miami I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Rosenhaus said. “I was like the normal college student trying to find the right career path. I was friends with a lot of the football players [at Miami] and one day one of my good friends and Hall-of-Famer, Michael Irvin, suggested I try to become an agent. That was the moment where I decided to look into becoming a sports agent.”
He admits he caught some lucky breaks along the way, but becoming the youngest sports agent at the age of 22 was all about hard work and determination. Rosenhaus knows how to market himself and has made appearances on Pardon the Interruption (PTI) and The Late Show with David Letterman, and has been in commercials for ESPN and Burger King.
“You have to be able to handle the media and be colorful and entertaining or else no one will want to interview you,” Rosenhaus said. “You also have to be successful enough that people care about what you have to say.”
Although Rosenhaus has prospered dealing with high-profile athletes such as Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, it hasn’t always been a easy ride for the smooth-talking agent.
“My career, like anyone else’s, has been a roller coaster ride — full of ups and downs,” Rosenhaus said.
The incident that most college students probably remember is when Rosenhaus represented Owens the off-season after the outspoken wide receiver brought the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl. Owens and Rosenhaus thought the star deserved more money and a better contract than what he was given the previous year when a different agent represented Owens. The Eagles stood firm and when Owens held out of workouts and ultimately the beginning of the season, the Eagles decided to suspend him for the remainder of the season.
“I thought that it would look good for Terrell to go up in front of the media and make an apology,” Rosenhaus said. “If I could go back and do it all over again, I would just have Terrell and I walk off the podium right there.”
Instead, Rosenhaus decided to field questions from the reporters in Philadelphia. What followed was a series of extremely difficult and seemingly unfair questions, and to the first 20 or so questions, Rosenhaus’ response was, “Next question.”
“After that happened, I became the laughingstock of the sporting world and I thought my career was over,” Rosenhaus said. “I was devastated. But I was able to sign Terrell the following season with Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys to a contract that was better than the one Terrell had signed with the Eagles. Now Terrell was playing with America’s team and he made $11 million more than he would have in Philadelphia.”
The Owens story emphasized the focal point of the lecture Rosenhaus seemed to be trying to make: to work hard and keep going because everyone gets knocked down.
“The key is to get your foot in the door,” Rosenhaus said. “Once you do that you’re going to make it. Everyone was young and in college at some point trying to break in, even me, and you make it by perseverance.”