In the world of big-time college and pro football, Ralph Cindrich might be described as a guy who’s seen it all. He once was a coveted recruit who spurned the overtures of Penn State to play at rival Pitt. As a pro he played for three NFL teams before becoming a player agent who has gone toe-to-toe in negotiations with hard-bargaining general managers. For more than 30 years he’s been in the professional sports business and has a storehouse of anecdotal material about what happens in all those closed-door contract session as well as many stories about the people involved in them.
Here’s an excerpt from NFL Brawler:
“Unlike baseball, where agents will often earn 5 percent of a client’s guaranteed contract in a career that lasts 5 to 6 years; NFL players only average a 3- to 4-year career, and football agents can only earn a maximum of 3 percent per deal with some big-time players expecting you to take even less. Worse yet, most of the deals aren’t guaranteed, so everything can evaporate in seconds. You can’t make it without a number of clients and good ones too, guys who can earn second and third contracts over the course of their careers. And finding those players takes time – trips, travel, and long hours away from home. I knew those days might arrive for me someday; I just wasn’t in a rush.
“Once I waded in, I knew I’d have obvious advantages over my opponents. I was a former player and knew the game better than most of the general managers. I had a law degree and had argued several cases in the courtroom from tax court to divorces, a resumé of legal experiences that no other agent could match. In addition, I was ethical to boot, a byproduct of an old-fashioned upbringing in Avella [Pa.] and the famously feared backhand of my father. I knew my career would take off once I gave it some ballast.”