By NFLtalk columnist, NFL Agent, and President and Founder of Sports Agency Dr. G. Lynn Lashbrook

The sports agent profession has grown rapidly over the past twenty years or so, as sport has experienced rapid commercialization. This has in turn sparked the dramatic increases in player salaries that have been so extensively maligned by the media. The multi-million dollar contracts created by the start up United States Football League in the eighties, such as Steve Young's reported $40 million deal with the LA Express, was probably influential in triggering the intense competition now evident amongst agents in the recruitment of top prospects. This competition has intensified to present day and the profession has developed into a cutthroat business with the riches being fiercely protected by a new generation of "super agents." These individuals compete to try and develop the most impressive portfolio of contracts and more often than not the recruiting of new players is their highest priority. Higher than the personal advising of their existing clients who need their agent to mentor them through the sharp transition from amateurism to the goldfish bowl of professional sports in America.

In 1993, I was given the opportunity to break into the sports agent industry due to the fact that I had a relationship with a very successful football agent when I was Assistant Athletic Director at the University of Missouri. After spending twenty years in collegiate athletics, I knew I would have to depend on my friends and colleagues and my commitment to integrity if I was going to be successful in this industry. Representing one of the top Sports Agencies provided immense credibility for me as an inexperienced sports agent. However, when I reflected back on the recruitment and successful signings of all those players, I realized that over eighty percent of the players I recruited and signed were through the connections that I had made during the previous twenty years. Once I had clients in the NFL, the opportunity for new referrals continued to multiply. It is no secret in the agent industry that relationships lead to more referrals, which in turn lead to more relationships, which lead to more referrals!

In 1993 (my first year) I was introduced to several players from the National Championship Winning Team from Florida State University. I subsequently signed Lonnie Johnson (second round pick with Buffalo) and Sean Jackson (fourth round pick by the Oilers). I also signed Ralph Dawkins, a running back from Louisville (free agent for the Saints), after a friend of mine had passed on our impressive brochure. After meeting with his Uncle we were given the sign of approval. Truly based on a relationship with the player!

In 1994, with a year under my belt, I spent an enormous amount of time creating a relationship and then signing a hometown player, Barrett Brooks, of Kansas State who was drafted in the second round by the Eagles. I quickly learned that creating family relationships early in the recruiting season and successfully maintaining them is a very long, intense, and often-expensive process. Obviously, this process is much more cost effective if you are fortunate to make relationships locally!

As I reflect back on the other signings that I made over the following five years, it was obvious that the players whom were referred to me during the recruiting season were those that I would most likely end up signing. Referrals from the trusted friend of the player provide a significant advantage for the agent trying to create the relationship with the athlete.

I was introduced to Tony Cline from Stanford University, (an eventual fourth round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills), by a long time friend of his mother. She happened to see me on television being interviewed by the local news network while I was commenting on the price of gasoline as I pumped gas in my vehicle. She had no idea I was an agent. In this case, the mother had an exceptional relationship with her son as well as a trusted friendship with the friend who recognized me on television. The following year, Tony's younger brother's roommate at UCLA, Mike Flanagan (fourth round pick with Green Bay) was referred to our company. Oh, and I don't want to forget I signed Brian Manning, a Stanford wideout (sixth round pick for Miami) who was a teammate of Tony's and just happened to be from my hometown of Kansas City!

When I was trying to recruit Mark Fields (first round pick by the New Orleans Saints) my first introduction to him came through a former colleague of mine from my days as an Academic Advisor. It was the trust that he shared with the player and his Mom that led us to the signing of the thirteenth pick in the Draft!

It was no secret that our relationship with our client Ralph Dawkins sealed the deal when we signed his younger brother Brian Dawkins (second round pick for the Philadelphia Eagles). Needless to say, this relationship thing runs through the family!

Breaking in to a new campus can be very challenging until you land the first client. Steve Hardin was as my first signing from the University of Oregon and was signed as a free agent for the Indianapolis Colts. I had signed Steve by creating a relationship with his parents and this subsequently opened the door to the school and the following years I signed Jeremy Asher (seventh round pick with the Washington Redskins) followed by Josh Wilcox who was signed as a free agent by the Saints.

I am the first to admit that being with a superb agency with elite players provided the credentials to close the deal on successfully signing these players. However, my advice to any new sports agent is to focus on seeking potential referrals and introductions to prospects. In my experience, it has proven to be more cost effective and potentially a better opportunity to build more quickly the relationship and trust with the player and his family.

Everyday you will be introduced to someone new in your life. Every person knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows a potential prospect. Every client has a former roommate and teammates, and in some cases a younger brother or cousin who may have potential as a player. With the huge expansion of professional football leagues in the United States and abroad there has never been a better time to enter the sports agent business and create new relationships through old relationships!

Success in the agent business is all about relationships, referrals, and trust. TRUST ME!

Dr. G. Lynn Lashbrook is the President and Founder of, a multi-national, full service sports agency built on integrity and trust while providing mentorships for future sports agents.