Articles, Blog

Conversation With Andrew Brandt | Wharton Sports Analytics & Business Initiative

February 11, 2020

It’s good to be back here. I always enjoy
coming to Wharton, the great program that Michelle runs here, the program I was involved in, as I’ll talk about, it’s part of my background before I moved over to the
suburbs and Villanova. I was down here for a few years teaching sports law,
sports business, and negotiations, a great experience here and always enjoyed
dealing with students and faculty here, it’s such a great institution, and
talking about sports because sports is why we’re here, right? Sports is a
unifier. Sports is something that galvanizes. I’ve seen it firsthand
throughout my career what sports does to people, and everyone can relate to sports.
Everyone thinks they would have been that athlete, you know, but for a coach
that didn’t like him or a knee injury along the way, it would have been me out
there, damn it, so I think sports is the unifier, and I see it all the time when
people come to me and say, “well, how do I get into sports? I want to get into
sports,” and now we’re not talking about only young people, we’re talking about
people with careers and other businesses, people who want to transition to sports
because, again, it’s that romance, it’s that emotion, it’s something that evokes
that feeling in all of us because we can relate, you know, it’s what drives us.
You know the one thing I’ll start out with so many young people, as I just
said, asking how to get in, what do I do, how do I get into sports, so many people,
how do I get to that point where I’m, you know, one of those people. How do we get
the door, break down the door, get in the door, foot in the door? And to me, it’s
always about making yourself different, and this is true for any career, not just
sports, but tell me what you do different, tell me your special sauce, tell me how
you differentiate yourself from the so many other people that want to get into
the business. How? What about you? You know, people come up, I want to be an agent. I’m like, great! I’m a player, why would I sign with you? Well, I’m smart, I got good
grades. Okay, no, that doesn’t do it. I love sports. No, who cares. I work really hard. Okay, what else? Why would I sign with you? I want to work for a team. Okay great, why? Why would a team hire you? What do you got that everyone else doesn’t have? I want to work for a union,
I want to work for a rec league, I want to work for an athletic department, I want
to work… Whatever it is, find your special sauce, what makes you different. Maybe you’ve written about it, maybe you podcast about it, maybe you’ve blogged
about it, and, if you haven’t, do it, because if I’m an employer and I’m
looking at what makes you different than the rest of them, unless you were college
roommates with the number-one draft pick, which is probably the best way to be an
agent, find out. What’s different about you? So when people come up and, you know, I’m this, I’m that, okay, show me. What’s your writing sample? You know, I like the
salary cap. Great! What have you done with the salary cap? What have you researched? What have you written? What have you blogged? What have you podcasted? What are you? What charts do you have? What analytical models do you have? Oh, I
haven’t done that yet. Okay, see ya. I want to work for an agent. Okay, what do you
know about negotiating contracts that maybe is different, you know, what’s a good
way? Take a free agent, do a whole model for them, show them that because that’s the way you can separate yourself. Because so many other people come in and say I love
sports, I’d work really hard. Oh great, of course you love sports,
that’s why you’re here. Who cares? I know who the third-string tackle is for the
Carolina Panthers. Who cares? Doesn’t help me. So, find a way to get in
where you’re positioned differently than everyone else, somehow, some way, and I see it. It does happen. I’ll talk about my Packer experiences, the assistant, the colleague that I had at the Packers that helped me the most, a woman that
came in, didn’t know a football from a basketball, didn’t know, and that’s hard to believe in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but it happened. But she was a data analyst that came from a trucking company, Schneider
Trucking, and she was wonderful because she had a skill that I and we needed
badly, because what happens is the NFL sends out all this stuff every night in
all these data forms: what every team did that day, what every team’s model looked
like, what the league model looked like, whatever data, it happened that day,
overnight, and then, at 8:00 in the morning, she got it, she collated it
into what I needed to see, about cap, about contracts, about league matters, in
a way that, wow, this is unbelievable, this is great. That was a skill that was so
valuable to me and to us that it had no bearing whether she was a football fan
or not, really. So, I start this out by saying, you want to get into sports, great,
why? Why? And this is also how you find out about people. What’s your passion?
What’s your passion? And it can be sports, but, like, when I’ll interview
someone and there’ll be on their resume something about, you know, I did
swimming lessons for developmentally disabled kids, I’m like yeah, tell me
about that. I don’t want to hear about sports, tell
me about that, and then if you see a passion that really shows, like oh man
they’re into this, like I can see that transferring to work in sports, like yeah,
I like this one because the way he or she talks about some hobby, some passion, that’s great. You know, I teach a class every semester and I go around the room, you know, tell me about yourself, why you’re here, what are you into sports, so I had
one kid a couple years ago, and he said, he identifies himself, I’m so and
so, I’m from New Orleans, and he’s wearing a Drew Brees Jersey, and he starts going
on. Now, usually, it’s 20 seconds. I’m so-and-so, I’m from Rockville Centre, New
York, I like sports, I heard your class was great. Great. This kid shows up, says
I’m from New Orleans, I’ve been a Saints fan my whole life, and in 2006 we signed Reggie and then we got Drew. We got Drew, and I’m like, okay, I
got a live one here, so tell me about that. It was amazing, and then that 2009 year, and we’re playing Brett in the championship
game, and Brett, it’s like incredible that game, but then he throws the pick, I
mean the guy goes crazy, and we’re going to the Super Bowl. I’m like, how did you
feel about that? Great! It was the best feeling in my life, and then I’m, like I
said, I got a live one here, the whole class is like, oh my god, who’s this kid,
and then he goes, and the Super Bowl, and we did the onside kick, and then Peyton, we were playing Peyton. Peyton’s from New Orleans, Peyton’s from New
Orleans. I’m like, yeah, yeah, and he’s just shaking, and we got the onside kick,
and Peyton threw the pick, and Tracy, yeah. I’m like, oh my god,
you just got an A. He was tearing up, so this kid wore that Drew Brees jersey
every day. Every day I saw him. He took my class, same class, fall semester, spring
semester, fall semester, next year spring semester next year. I’ll do whatever I
can to help that kid. It’s important to him, it’s why he lives, he dreams,
not just about Saints, but about passionately helping in sports, so those
are some moments where you just say, okay, this one is into it. My background is instructive, I hope, to a lot of you because I have done a lot of
twists and turns, and I always say, you know, allow your life to be a little bit
serendipitous, you know, allow for serendipity in your life because the
people that, to me, screw up the most are the ones that have the five-year
plans and can’t get off it. You got…life is not linear, life
is meandering, and you got to be flexible, got to be adaptable, and you got to be
willing, you know, I grew up in DC, Washington, DC, I was a tennis player. I
played a little bit of, you know, competitive tennis, and I got to the
Nationals one year, Kalamazoo, Michigan. I go to the Nationals, got to the third
round, and I play this kid, and he comes out, and his name is John McEnroe, and I’m
like, okay, but if you’re in junior sports, like a lot of you have been, you know
who the studs are, right, from the lists and stuff. It wasn’t McEnroe, I never
heard of this guy. He comes out, he’s from Long Island, he’s dumpy, he’s fat, mom’s
there, I’m like I got this guy. And anyway, twelve days later I was dispatched. I’ve
never seen a player like that. You know if you look at if you look at Nadal or
Fedor on the on the covers of magazines their eyes are direct on those
strings. McEnroe is a lefty, he’s like over here you know. He just had surreal, and his brothers too, surreal hand-eye coordination, like a gift a true gift
from God, and you know McEnroe plays guitar, does soccer, it’s just amazing, and
so I never seen anything like it before or since, the way he played. And he went on
to Stanford when the Nationals was in Wimbledon by his sophomore year semi
finals. I went to Stanford like three years later, no scholarship,
but they had like a you know JV team. There was an A team that
played against like Cal and USC, there was a B team that played against Oregon, there was a C team—I was like on the G team, and I got to play once I think I played against
two teams. I played against Nevada Reno and Humboldt State so I play but at
the end of it some guys like me at the end of the bench were like, hey we’re only
young once, let’s try this and by this it was like let’s try to be pro. And now I
saw the world of pro athletes unlike anything you see on TV and it’s really
the majority of pro athletes where they go out there and they’re just sweating.
They’re just trying to get points. I’m playing in Chattanooga, in Lake Charles,
Louisiana and Rockford, Illinois, Pensacola, Florida where there’d be maybe
three people in the stands, five, ten girlfriends whatever, we call their own
lines, we try to get points, that’s it.
I’d show up on a Monday morning, I’d usually lose by Tuesday, off to the next
site. So I did this, I got as high as like 2,700 in the world you know somebody’s
gotta be 2,700. And I jumped off. I said this is not, you know, gonna be my life. My
opponents convinced me I better do something else so what’d I do not
knowing what to do? I went to law school back home in DC, Georgetown Law. But I
will never forget that experience playing pro tennis because it dawned on
me like seven, six or seven years later, I’m an agent now and I’m recruiting a
kid at University of Illinois Champaign–Urbana, I pick up the school
paper, it says tonight at the Tennis Center satellite tours in town, I’m like
“I played on that tour, awesome!”I go out there, same thing, ten people in the
stands calling their own lines. But the thing that hit me and will remember to
this day, to my dying day, that I looked out there on that court seven years
after I played, same guys. Same guys. And that was a moment because I went out
with these guys for beers afterwards and they’re looking to me like,
“Andrew what’d you do? Why’d you stop? What are you doing?”and I looked at them
I’m like, “What are you doing? What are you doing, you’re 30 years old? What are you
doing?” and they’re like, “It’s sports! What do you mean? We’re gonna play!” And now
instead of 2,000 in the world these guys are like 700, 800, 500, one guy beat a guy
ranked 50, you know it’s like they’re in until their arm falls off and they’re
going to do it and then at age 35 they’re gonna be a pro in the Bahamas in
the winter and in Cape Cod in the summer and it’s a life! And I’m like eh, I
wanted more. I mean I have a real job, it’s representing athletes so it’s not
really a real job, but yeah I got off and it just it really dawned on me that
elite athletes are a special breed I’ve been around in my whole career and
the more dramatic part of it is once you get off that train, you’re in the
wind. You know you see it every day in big-time sports like football, basketball,
baseball, once you’re off, no one cares. Right? No one cares. There’s too many
players to care about someone that may or may not retire or whatever. The
train keeps moving and it really helped me later in my career dealing with Brett
Favre dealing with all these players that had a hard time leaving. I get it. I
get it, because once you’re gone, you’re gone.
You’re gone, and now you’re a human being for the next 50 years instead of an
athlete and it happens so fast you go from athlete to former athlete. And we
all try to hang on, me included, you know I do all my fitness and triathlon
stuff because I’m hanging on. You know I was once that elite athlete and you just
never like, wow that was great, but I knew I couldn’t compete at that level. Those
guys are still trying and for them being a thousand in the
world was enough to satisfy their career lengths. So anyway, I was in law
school at DC ,there was a big firm down the road called Pro Serve, it’s no
longer, and lucky for me, you need a hook into sports, my hook was, “Hey, you guys
represent tennis players, I was a tennis player!” and my real hook was I can get
you meetings with Stanford tennis players. They’re like yeah, we’ll take a
chance on this kid, so I spent three years in law school, 80% of it working as
an unpaid intern, and 20% of it in law school. And then after law school I had
the choice and the tough decision of actually going to a real law firm, you
know, because being an agent is not over being a real lawyer. It really isn’t. You don’t do any sophisticated legal work, or going into
sports, which I did of course, I stayed in sports and for a while I was a tennis
agent, and when you’re a tennis agent you’re recruiting 13 year olds, you know,
you’re going to the Orange Bowl in Miami and you’re recruiting, which means you’re
recruiting parents. And tennis parents are no peach, you know I’m
an athletic parent now, we’re not easy, because every one of us who are
parents in here you know your kids, you know walks on water, of course, how could
the coach not see that? So I was an agent but I got burned out on tennis and more
importantly I saw down the hall a guy named David Falk. David, you know, is
working with Mike Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Allen Iverson, all these
guys. I’m like hey, can I go work for that guy? I want to be in the firm but I want
out of tennis into that guy. And this is what happens in life, look for
your path, they said yeah because he needed help. And then I saw a different
path because David was so invested in Michael and the NBA that we had a few
football players, and they needed help. And I’m like I’ll be the football guy. Why not? You know, you look at me, I’ve never
played football, but growing up a huge fan of the Redskins and growing up a
big-time football fan, like this is cool. So I went from 3 to 5 to 10 to 15
players in my 6 years there, and we had a football practice. Then I’m like doing a
contract with the Minnesota Vikings, the guy named Mike Lin ran the Vikings, but
was also involved in putting together an NFL Europe, and he looks at me and he
says let me ask you something, do you speak Barcelonan? I said is that
Spanish? He said yeah, turns out it’s not, and I said sure you know I took it in
high school, why not? He said how’d you like to be first general manager of the Barcelona
Dragons, I said what’s that? So we’re starting a new league, it’s gonna be
great overseas, great I said you have any jobs in this country? No this is gonna be
Europe League, and I said I’m young I’m single, so I said ok. So the first time I’ve done, this twice now my career, I went from
labor (players) to management, this time to run a minor league, not minor league, but a
developmental league team overseas and I took this job, and I had no players, no
coaches, no staff, moving to a country that knew nothing about the sport, so I’m
like what do I do? They said hire a coach. I’m like who?
They said, we got these young hot assistants in the NFL like Pete Carroll,
talk to him, this guy Tony Dungy, talk to him. I’m like ok, I talked to them, they’re
like Andrew, this sounds really cool but no way, I’m not going to Spain, are you
kidding me? I’m like I get it. Boston College just fired their coach, guy named
Jack Bicknell, who was great, I meet him, I like him, I say you’re in, I love you
you’re great, you’re hired, come to Barcelona. He’s like great, he’s like, “I
got all these assistant coaches,” and before he started going on about him, I’m
like they’re hired. You want to meet them? No, I don’t have time for that. You like
them? Yeah. Hired. He says I got trainers, equipment,
video, I’m like, hired. You want to meet them?
No I don’t have time to meet them. You like them? Yeah. Good. And we got to get
players. We go down to Florida, we draft, I don’t know who to draft, I asked NFL
people who to draft, they told me to draft my number one pick, actually went
to Temple, Paul Palmer, running back, so I
draft 80, I don’t know who they are. Five days training camp, five days in
Winter Park, Florida cut to 40. I tell 40 guys no you can’t come to Spain with us.
Some were Spanish. Get on a plane, arrive, we have an instant football team. In ten
days, we made a football team. We get to the stadium, our ticket guy or
marketing guys says, proudly says we have sold, proudly, 173 tickets. I said how many
does it hold? 40,000. Well that’s not good. He tells me in Spain they walk up, I’m
like that’s a hell of a lot of walk up. So I’m like what do we do, and I’m handing out
tickets at street corners, like what do we do? I said well okay, we had the great
idea through a lot of pulling strings we got a meeting, just a meeting, with the
general manager of Football Club Barcelona, one of the great brands, and all the
support they’re having a game the night before our game, a hundred thousand
people. We just want ten thousand, and I say to
the GM like ,what do you guys do at halftime? What do you mean? What do you do at halftime? What do you mean? What do you do at halftime? What do you mean? What do between they go in and they go out, and he actually said to me this,
he said we smoked cigarettes I said no, no what do you do on the field?
I said can we get out there, run the kick, the ball, throw the ball, say tomorrow
night, Montjuic Stadium, Barcelona Dragons.
He actually said, we still smoke like yeah, so we got out there and we did it,
and the announcer said, I hope he said that, and thank god. 19,000 people walked through that door the next night. Now I probably
gave out six, seven thousand tickets, but whatever, that was great and now we got
to worry about the product. We get out there, first half’s a little squirrely, we
don’t look so good. It’s zero-zero with second half, we get
the ball, we hit our tight end on a seam pattern, he breaks three tackles,
touchdown, I’m jumping up and down, the crowd is this polite golf applause, and
our kicker comes on and kicks the extra point, and they go nuts, they went absolutely nuts. And I’m like oh my god. Then I realized now, this went on for literally
two years, they cheered at all the wrong times, they did the wave the entire game
long, they did the ole song the entire game long, I had to hire a Spanish player.
The NFL said we can’t have all Americans, go hire a Spanish player, I’m like okay. So
we have this tryout, all the best American football players in Spain which
is you know less than this room, and I’m excited to see Jose the sack man Martin,
Jose’s my size, you know there’s no one. So I find this kid, he looks good, he
speaks English, we give him the jersey, you got him. Guillermo Gomez. Guillermo,
turns out, was hated by the media because Guillermo was born and raised in
Madrid. Barcelonans hate Madrid, I didn’t know that, and vice-versa.
They hate each other, so now we’re getting creamed, I’m like what do we do?
Go hire a Barcelona kid. I’m like okay, so we hire this Cisco, he’s 120 pounds, like
okay, Cisco you’re our guy. And the whole two years, the second half, we would hear
“We want Cisco!” Cisco never played football, he was like our mascot, so I’m
dealing with this. Anyway two years I was there January to June each year, we had
maybe 10 to 15,000, but they didn’t care. They didn’t care, they didn’t, I had a fan
committee, I said tell me what we’re doing good, what we’re doing bad.
He said Andrew, you have too many meetings. I’m like what’s a meeting? You run
a play then you meet, then you run a play then you meet.
I said yeah, they’re called huddles. No we don’t want–no. No more meetings. So I
go to our coach, like they don’t want meetings? What are meeting? Huddles. Well screw them, we huddle. So this is kind of the push and pull we had over there. They didn’t care, so I told our
marketing staff, as small as it was, I said we’re not doing football here. Don’t
sell touchdowns and quarterbacks. Don’t. Done. Over. Well what do we sell? Here’s
what we sell: we sell three hours in America, that’s what we’re selling, that’s
what they want. So I hired two Miami Dolphins cheerleaders, they teach the
women how to dance like that, Las Chicas del Dragons, they were so popular. I hired
frisbee dogs, great five thousand dollars, crapped all over a hotel, but great value.
Before, during, after games, flamethrowers, marching bands, hot dogs, hamburgers,
rap music, every time out. I mean it was just–we made it a party. They didn’t care
about football, and I told the NFL this. They were like let’s just try, that was the
first year, let’s try one more year, so it’s like okay, but they don’t they just
want an American experience. So we made it for that and then the
logistics says no one would ever believe it. I look at these NFL teams that go to
Europe or London for one week and they’re complaining, I’m like oh my god. You know our road trips, we were taking buses, planes, trains, automobiles, I
would have to bribe customs to get our equipment, they ruined our jerseys, every
time we played the laundry didn’t know what to do. I had to put night tables
with pillows at the end of each bed so their feet didn’t flop over. Though the
hardest thing in Barcelona, and I’ll finish this part, but it was food. I just
couldn’t get enough food. I’d order food for 70, it was gone after 20-25 every
night. I’m like please more food, and they said they eat so much, they’re so big, I’m
like yes, but more food. I never ate, our players would eat, then they’d go out to
eat. It was just a nightmare with the food I mean you got to understand this
is pre-internet in the 90s, and my job as general manager is unlike any general
manager that you know. I was just trying to keep it together. You know we had 45 Americans, never been out of the country, any of them who
were out of the country for four months. We had psychological issues, we had
breakdowns, we had, I mean it was horrible. I mean, so people don’t realize what goes
on when you’re starting a new venture overseas, but you’ve got 21 to 25 year
olds that are like stuck, they can’t read the papers, they can’t understand the TV,
all they care about was the striptease channel at night, that was it. So that was
a different experience the league fold suspended came back as NFL Europe 2
without Barcelona. I went back into the agent business. Bob Wolf was a pioneer
agent who died suddenly, his firm was left to his wife. She didn’t want to run
a sports firm, she sold to a big group out of Boston. They had people come
in to run the divisions and I joined with an equity interest to run football,
basketball, baseball for Wolf Associates in Boston. My partner on the hockey
was a guy named Bobby Orr, which was really cool because he was not just a
celebrity, he was recruiting and after these players so I was representing
athletes for their three years and my time there was really consumed with one
player because I got a hook into a player as a baseball client—baseball
client—playing during his summers away from college. He was playing minor league
baseball; his name is Ricky Williams. Ricky was a great outfielder for the
minor league system of the Phillies. I got him, I met him, we headed off and I
was his agent and as a baseball agent to a pro player, pro, I could buy him things,
I could give him flights, I could do all that. He was a pro athlete. Of course he
blew up on the football side and I was there and hung on and hung on and hung
on and finally signed him as a football client and he wins the Heisman and he’s
the hottest thing and he’s the first guy with dreads and he’s awesome and I got
him! You know, I’m a small mid-sized agent and I got Ricky Williams, and
I’m hanging on by a thread. He’s going around the world, he’s in Asia, he’s
Europe, he’s in Hawaii, he’s in Japan. I’m like you know my wife’s like what do you
do on these trips? I’m like nothing, I’m just here, I’m protecting the asset, and I
didn’t do so good a job because I see Ricky’s got these guys hanging around.
I’m like Rick, who are these guys? He says well they work for Master P, and I’m like
who’s Master P? Rapper. What’s up, I want to be with Master P starting a sports
agency. You know he’s an entrepreneur, he’s great I said okay, what
about me? He goes I want you to work for P, I don’t like those guys in Boston, I
like you. I’m like you want me and P? He says yeah, I said I don’t know about that,
he said well, meet him. I’m like okay, I’ll meet him. I meet him, you know it’s
quite a scene, a lot going on, but he’s gonna you know have me do all the
contracts, he’s gonna get into basketball, baseball, and hockey and boxing, he’s
already got boxers, and I’m like okay, and I’m telling my wife now, I think gonna work for this guy master P. She’s like why? Because I go back to
Boston without Ricky I don’t have a job there, there. And this is my option, and so
you know I’m gonna have Ricky as Master P. And it’s you know, it’s a stressful
time and the exact same time like within a day, it’s just amazing, within a day I’m
getting calls from the Green Bay Packers. Now over the years I’d had clients there
at that time I had one client there who’s now still a good friend, just
retired last year, third string quarterback named Matt Hasselbeck. But
they’re not calling me about Hasselbeck, I’m like why are you calling me? They said
well our coach Mike Holmgren, he just left to go to the Seattle Seahawks, I’m
like great, I watch SportsCenter, what’s up? Well he took Reinfeldt right it was
the head of the business operation and Holmgren took him to Seattle. I said okay,
what’s up? They say well how’d you like to switch sides? I’m like what, come to
Green Bay? Yeah. I said well first of all I said you know you deal with a hundred
agents, why me? And they just said they like the way I dealt with people, they
like, you know, I seem to know my way around these contracts. Hasselbeck obviously
loved me, you know, we hit it off. Sometimes you hit it off with a client,
like you’re more than a client, you’re like best friends, and then the main
thing they said was they wanted to be more agent-friendly. You know what better
way than to a hire an agent? So now it’s like okay, Green Bay, Wisconsin. I went up
there and interviewed and I was very direct. I said Billy, please don’t
take offense at this question, but do I have to move here to do this job? And
they said no offense, oh we understand, there’s two seasons, winter and fourth of
July, but yeah, you got to be here. So I’m going to Green Bay, Wisconsin, and I was
there 10 years. And you know I think a lot of people know what a
coach does, what a scout does, What did I do basically as capologist,
vice president of football operations, vice president of administration. I had a lot of
titles, general counsel, and here’s basically what I was in a nutshell: I was
the bridge between the business side and the football side, and that’s an
important role. I think not enough organizations have that person, because
on the business side you’re very long-term, you know, what are we going to look like when the CBA expires, what are we, in our case, we gonna look
like when Brett retires, how do we position our team five years out, ten
years out, what’s the cap gonna look like in 2025? That’s the business side. On the
football side, it’s like as you would expect, it’s like today, you know, like
Andrew can you get that guy signed by practice at 3 o’clock, can you get them
on the field Sunday, can we make this happen like tomorrow. So I’d say half of
my time is being the voice of aggression to the business side, where
I’m like I think we should do this, you know, I think we should–I need a million
dollars here, I want to make this happen, and the other half is being the voice of
caution to the football side, which is no, we got enough invested in defensive
line here, we’ll do that next year. No, we’re not going to bring in that
player because we have committed to these players. Always a push and pull. And
it’s usually sort of that dichotomy I see in sports all the time
with coaching and management, which is the president versus the future. And every
organization needs, I would describe myself as a mediator between those two
sides and nowhere did that coalesce more, of course, in that in the famous
story that I’ve told a few times and I’ll tell you now. We’re in that draft
room the night of April 23rd, 2006 and we have a board like every team and we
had 19, maybe 18-19 players rated as first-round grades. You know, 32 picks but
you never–no team has 32 players rated first round. We had about 18-19. Two things happened that night. Number one, 18 of those 19 gone. Gone. We wanted to DeMarcus Ware so bad, freaking Cowboys. We wanted this linebacker Derrick Johnson so bad,
freaking Chiefs. We wanted all these guys. David Pollock, a colleague I worked with
at ESPN, we wanted them—gone. The other thing happening is the one
player that is up there, no one’s taking him. His name is Aaron Rodgers. Jon
Gruden at five said yeah, we’re taking you. No. Four teams told them we’re
taking yo–no. So now we have this moment in our history of the Green Bay
Packers that’s coalescing right now where we’re
looking at that board and we’re seeing this is gonna happen. So I’ve got the
coaches on my right and I’ve got GM on the left, and the
coaches are literally yanking me, pulling me because there’s some combustion going
on over here. And they’re saying Andrew, no way, no,
no, we can’t take this guy. Because if you’re a coach and you see your team
about to use its precious asset of a first-round pick on a player that won’t
help them, won’t help us, wasn’t gonna help us that year, maybe not the next
year, maybe not the next year, never, maybe never, they’re going crazy. If we take
Aaron Rodgers with the most durable quarterback in the history of the sport
on our team that’s a problem, so there is a lot of mess over here now on the
management side, on the scouting side. The GM side, they’re looking at me and saying
Andrew what do we always say? Trust the board. Trust the board. That’s
all we’re gonna do so now we got an issue and this is my moment, because again, I
told you my role, I’m a mediator. So we go out into the hallway, we leave the room
ten minutes before we’re on the clock, and I said these
words: Listen if we take Rodgers, Brett will go crazy, Brett’s agent will go crazy,
our fans will not like it, Aaron will not like it,
Aaron’s agent will not like it, our team won’t like it, our coaches won’t like it.
And so now I got the coaches going yeah, yeah, we’re not gonna take him. And then
I look at our coaches and I say, having said all that, we should take him. We
should take him, having said all what I just said, we should take Aaron Rodgers.
And now you got, you know, I’m gonna quit, all this stuff going on over here,
and I said because they’re like why– I said because an organization has to
stand for something, we have to stand for something and what we stand for in the
Green Bay Packers is scouting. We trust our scouts, they spent seven months out
there coming up with the best player for us right now, and that’s Rogers. If we
don’t take him we deflate our whole team, we deflate the morale of our staff, this
is their moment, not ours, this is our scouts moment. And now there’s all kinds
of accusations going on and it’s like we’re about to get on the clock, and I
say okay, here’s the compromise, here is the compromise. And our GM makes the
decision ultimately about what’s going to be offered, but we get them on the
phone. And we wait for 12 of that 15 minutes,
and we watched and listened to the phones and if we get an offer we trade them. So now I get them on the phone, I’m watching them on TV, poor guys been sitting there six hours, the caterers cleaned the room, he’s alone and I’m watching him talk to
me and I’m like holding in the whole room and for those 12 and a half minutes,
crickets. Phone never rang. I think about the NFL every time I watched repairing
how different it could look if that phone rang. If that phone rang, we were
looking at trade. No one wanted Aaron Rodgers. So we took him. Okay, Brett calls
the coach livid, Brett’s agent calls me livid, Aaron puts
on a good face but who wants to go to a place they’re not gonna play. We have a
Lambeau Field party going on below us, thousand people, boooos, just terrible boos, shaking the building. No one liked this. No one. So then I spent three
years a lot of the time doing something that no one knows about. When you’re
management, people think about you doing contracts, you’re scouting, no,
you’re managing personalities. So we had Brett and Aaron and every week I’m
dealing with that. Brett’s side is calling and saying Andrew, do you know
what it’s like to come into work every day and sit with your replacement? That
stinks, and I’m like yeah, I get it. It sucks. And Aaron’s side is like, do you know what it’s like to come into work every day and know you’re never gonna
play? Never? That guy will never get hurt, ever. I’m like yeah it sucks. But just hold on to win just hold on to win. I don’t know when. And Brett sighs,
“When you gonna replace me?” I don’t know, hopefully never. We’ll see, I don’t know. So you’re managing this and you’ve got country
hayseed Southern Mississippi and you got California cool, that’s not great,
that’s not a great mix, so that first year, who’d I call? Who saved us that year?
He’s right down the road, old Doug Pederson. Every year I’d call Doug
because I always tried to get a backup quarterback in Green Bay, could never get
one, no one wants to come to Green Bay. It’s cold and you’ll never play, who
wants that? So every year about April, May I’d call on Doug Pederson, he’s like how
many guys did you call before me? Like 10. I said can you come back? And this time I
called and I said can you come back? And he goes no, I’m coaching high school,
I’m out of this, I’m done! I said Doug, Doug please I got Brett, I got Aaron, I’ll
pay you a million dollars, just be in that room, be our coach. I’m
like Doug, please, please Doug. And he did it. One year. You know, and so I see his
success over here it’s, I mean he has dealt with a lot in terms of
coaching, in terms of personalities. He’s prepared, obviously so that was the Green
Bay experience. It was unique. How are we doing on time? Okay. And then the last seven years in 30 seconds, I’ve done media and academia what I really saw was a void. I
wanted to leave team, I didn’t want to do that my whole career, so a void in media
and academia where I thought I could I could lend something here and this sort
of third chapter of my career has been really trying to bring people inside
what really happens in the inner workings of sports, whether through
teaching or podcasting or writing or TV or analysis, I thought that’s a way I can
give back. You know, I think third chapters of careers are often about
giving back, and I can’t cure cancer but this is one thing I can do. So that’s
what I’ve been doing. I was here obviously on the academic side, I’m now at
Villanova, and of course on the media side with ESPN, with Sports Illustrated,
with my podcast, all those kind of things. So now I can take hopefully one or two
questions. I mean I think one thing I have to say about this California bill, and I did have Val Ackerman, the head of the Big East, talk
about on my podcast this new idea. The NCAA is trying to do something, it’s
certainly not going to be like what the states are talking about, but the fact is
I’m a little more conservative and full disclosure I’m part of a university at
Villanova, but let’s look at Villanova, we have a men’s basketball team that’s won
two of the last four national championships and that’s one of 25 sports, 24 of which
don’t make money, and the one that does is not gonna make a lot. So I think when
people focus on this issue of paying college athletes, not even paying but
this name image likeness thing, it’s always the extremes, the zions,
and people don’t think about what college sports really is. 99% of it
doesn’t make any money, we have a football team at Villanova, 70
scholarships, 60 grand each, that’s 4.2 million dollars, makes zero. So we’re
talking about you know how to compensate the superstar superstar, yeah, fine, but
that’s not college sports. So the challenge, you know, I think it’s
politically popular right now you know yeah yeah we get on LeBron’s show, talk
about Zion. Okay, is anyone talking about men’s wrestling, is anyone talking about
women’s field hockey, do we really think they’re gonna get endorsement deals? Like
how is this gonna affect college athletics is my question, not how it’s
going to affect ten athletes around the country. So I just think it’s a bigger
picture the NCAA is just starting, I think two things are gonna happen: they are
gonna allow some kind of endorsement come to these players, but it’s
got to be tethered to education. What does that mean? Maybe it’s some kind of
third-party trust where the player can access it, not a university trust, but
third party where the player can access it upon graduation or upon separation
from the university. And the other part is figuring out, I
think we need a blue-ribbon economic panel to figure out how much of that
player’s value is that player versus the name across the jersey. You know where
you have a Zion Williamson who could go to the G league and make 250, 300
thousand dollars, he’d rather go to Duke. Why? Because that name is worth more than three hundred thousand dollars. So these are all the things that have to go into
it in terms of what’s the value, how much of it comes in. You know there’s a kid at
Georgetown and in the Big East, Mac McClung I think, so he came in to
Georgetown with two hundred thousand Instagram followers. Great, he
should get all the value out of that. But now with the Georgetown name he’s got
more value, how do you separate that? Those are the tough questions. One
more? One more. It always comes down to a single model
in terms of where is the best place for our money. I thought the AAF
model was a little scary because the investment came from venture, it came
from celebrities like Shaq, it came from all kinds of sources and they’re all
gonna have different opinions and then they got the Carolina Hurricanes owner
in there and he had different ideas about where the money should be spent. Having said that, I do give XFL a much better chance because now it’s one
investor, Vince McMahon, that’s it. And he’s got billions. So you get one
investor with a single vision, you’ve got a chance, you really do have a chance. AAF
coming in from all these visions, that’s not going to work. But I think there’s
obviously an appetite for football in the spring if it’s done right and the
expectations are low in terms of salaries. Never try to compete with NFL
salaries, keep expectations low and have a single investor. You know when
Vince McMahon can cash out a couple billion dollars, yeah they’ll make
payroll, they’re good. So I give that a real chance unlike the AAF. Thank you for your time! Thank you everyone.


  • Reply Sandra Richardson February 7, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    Oh took the wrong " route ".

  • Reply USA NEWS & MBA AUDIO NOTES February 8, 2020 at 3:27 am

    Nice video

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