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NFL Agents Discuss Biggest Challenges of Being Black or a Woman as an Agent

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 29, 2022

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Two NFL agents detailed the challenges they face, the first as a woman and the second as a Black person, in the current landscape during a survey by The Athletic's Ben Standig.

"My answer is going to be different as a woman, but the biggest challenge as an agent is balancing family," one agent said to Standig. "Being a top agent, having a lot of players and wanting to also be a good wife, and maybe a potential mom one day, that’s the hard thing for me."

Another agent explained how they believe their race has impacted their career.

"I hate to make it about race, but I find that it’s harder for me as a Black agent or for a minority-based agency to have a fair opportunity to represent white players or players of other races," they said. "You rarely see white players sign with Black agents. I wish it was more of an even playing field."

The lack of diversity among NFL head coaches and high-ranking executive roles has recently been under significant scrutiny. The league amended the Rooney Rule in March, adding women to the historically excluded groups who are required to be represented in interviews as part of the hiring process for coaching and front office roles.

For agents, those problems are compounded by the competitive nature of the profession. In April 2018, the Washington Post's Liz Clarke wrote that at the time "roughly 75 percent of NFL players are represented by just 17 percent of all certified agents."

Candace Buckner of the Washington Post reported in April 2021 that 17 first-round picks in the 2020 NFL draft had Black representation. Despite a sign of progress, deeper issues remain.

HOF Player Representatives' Greg Linton told Buckner he thought white players were reticent about hiring Black agents.

"They go with who they're most comfortable with," he said. "Even though they're around Black athletes, they just don't relate to Black agents."

Klutch Sports' Damarius Bilbo drew attention to another hurdle.

"I’ve been with some Black players that think they need a white agent because the GM was white," he said to Buckner. "They really put that into these kids' heads."

Buckner's piece laid out how improving diversity among the agent base won't resolve the situation on its own.

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