Penn State's Chafie Fields: It's a Happy Valley for Player Turned Agent
Chafie Fields doesn't come across as a stereotypical sports agent because he isn't one. Dressed in a t-shirt and a light warm-up suit at a recent football clinic for kids, he still looks the part of the athlete even though he hung up his cleats a long time ago.
More importantly, he stands out because of his humility. "It's nice to stay in the game," he said of his representation of some of the top names in the NFL, such as last year's leading rusher, Chris Johnson, LaRon Landry, and Philadelphia Eagles first-round pick, Brandon Graham.
"I kind of get my football fix and at the same time I get to give back a little to the guys."
Even after he casually lists some of his NFL clients, he seems almost embarrassed to add, "It's been a good run for me to represent about 80 percent of the Penn State guys who come into the NFL."
Put simply, Fields is a far cry from Drew Rosenhaus, Scott Boras, or a certain famous movie character, Jerry Maguire. Unlike most agents, he has the unique perspective of having been that special, rare athlete.
At Mastbaum High School in Philadelphia, class of '96, despite injuries that limited him to only eight of 12 games, Fields gained more than 900 yards and earned the reputation as one of the fastest backs in the state.
During his prep career, Mastbaum made four playoff appearances and advanced to three Philadelphia Public League championship games.
Fields was a dual-threat wide receiver for Penn State from 1996 to 1999, where he ranks 10th on the all-time receiving list, with 88 catches for 1,437 yards. As a Nittany Lion, he quickly became known for producing the "big play."
During his sophomore campaign, at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, he took a third-quarter double-reverse and zipped 84 yards down the left sideline to the five-yard line in Penn State's 38-15 victory against Texas.
But it is one play against the University of Miami during his senior season that put his name permanently into Penn State lore.
With his team trailing 23-20 with 1:41 left in the fourth quarter, in a rain-soaked Orange Bowl, he gathered in a rainbow from quarterback Kevin Thompson, shook off cornerback Mike Rumph, and raced the rest of the way for the game-winning 79-yard touchdown.
Mention the play and Fields offers just a good chuckle and a proud smile.
His reaction is understandable because he can reflect on the moment and appreciate it, despite playing his senior season with a bad ankle that limited him to a short NFL career of one-year stints with the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, and New York Jets.
Yet, his brief NFL career shaped his perspective as an agent.
"Being a 'sports agent' is a lot different for me than it is for maybe 90 percent of the guys who do what I do. Because for those 90 percent, it's just business. Their mindset is I want to do your contract, get my percentage, and get out of Dodge."
"For me it’s personal. I've seen time and time again all these young men who get an opportunity. They're blessed to play in the league because it’s not a right. What happens is that a lot of guys get this opportunity and they take advantage of it, but they don't take advantage of it."
"Number one, you have an opportunity financially to set yourself and your family up for a long time. Number two, you have a voice. People listen to you. They are going to open their ears when you talk. So you have a responsibility to yourself, your family, and everybody else that you are exposed to, to do the right thing."
This is where Fields wants to make an impact, as "a sort-of life coach." He clearly disdains what the term "sports agent" implies.
"All of the people who have gotten me where I am, I try to be an extension of them. I try to pass those life lessons down to these young men. Not just about football. The lights are going to go out one day. When it does, what are we going do next? (So in addition to the financial planning), do camps, give back to the community, being a good husband, being a good father, being a reputable man. That is what I am all about."
Make no mistake, Fields isn't giving lip service.
When his client, John Gilmore, former Penn State tight end and now member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, showed an interest in joining with Miami Dolphins quarterback, Chad Henne, to improve recreational facilities around Berks County (Pennsylvania) and provide scholarships for local high school students, Fields wanted to be integrally involved, even though it was far away from his home and business headquarters in Miami, Florida.
"It's special to me, because it’s so special to him," Fields said from the aforementioned clinic which was part of the recent Gilmore/Henne All-Star Weekend.
"This is a rare situation. Normally, with a charity event a guy just shows up. This guy here, John, has been working on this for eight months. He went to city hall. He put his name on it and his time into it. You can see how professional and classy this event turned out."
Professional and classy sound like the words you would use to describe Chafie Fields.
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