I worked with NFL sports agent Todd Crannell at Q2 Sports & Entertainment for over a year. After seeing an internship posting for his company on SportsAgentBlog.com, I reached out to him via email. By early summer 2010, I began as an out of office intern. Over my time at Q2, I learned a lot of things, from the college football recruiting process to client management to the importance of phone communication. I highly recommend interning for an agent if you are interested in pursuing a career in athlete representation. Thank you, Todd for participating in this interview.
Michael Riley (MR): What is your official job title?
Todd Crannell (TC): I am the President and Founder of Q2 Sports & Entertainment.
MR: Where did you go to college as an undergraduate? What was your major(s)/minor(s)?
TC: I attended Florida State University as an undergraduate, where I majored in Economics and minored in Sociology.
MR: Did you pursue an advanced degree(s) to further market yourself to the sports industry? If so, please elaborate.
TC: As a matter of fact, I did pursue an advanced degree to make myself more marketable in the sports business. I traveled overseas to the University of Oxford, where I earned my MBA. Even though I strived to get an MBA one day regardless of my career choice, I definitely went after it knowing that I wanted to be a sports agent.
MR: When did you know that you wanted to “break into sports? Was there one specific moment that you can recall when you knew you had to work in sports? Was it an industry you always saw yourself working in? Or did you just kind of fall into it?
TC: Sports was always a passion of mine. In college, I was top 3 in the ACC in pole-vaulting as a member of the Seminole Track and Field team. Coming out of school, I did not know exactly what I wanted to do. Two things I did know were that I liked numbers and that an MBA degree could be applied to variety of disciplines. The only thing I was missing was experience.
I ended up landing a job in the nation’s capital as an economist. I worked in the Division of the Department of Labor that produced the Employment Situation (aka Jobs Report), which is a monthly economic indicator. While in DC, I met a female tennis agent who worked at Octagon. She exposed me to the sports agent’s lifestyle. During one tournament, I knew that she was at center court. At the same time, I was crunching numbers in a cubicle. I experienced that Aha moment of clarity that made me realize that I needed to work in sports. Something had to change. I knew a little bit about the sports agent profession, especially how competitive it was. I believed I could do it, and I really thought heavily about a JD vs. MBA degree. I ultimately went with the MBA.
MR: How many internships did you participate in before you landed your first job? Where did you intern?
TC: I participated in only one internship before I landed my first job. In between my first and second year of the Oxford MBA program, I interned with Irene Marie Agency, a talent agency that specializes primarily in models. However, they did have a niche sports practice, where a great deal of my internship was focused. One of my duties was to help the marketing agent that worked with football players Tony Gonzalez, Jeremy Shockey, and Ricky Williams when they were at the height of their professional playing careers. Whatever projects I could get my hands on, I participated in, whether or not they were sports related.
MR: How did you land your first job in sports?
TC: My first job in sports evolved from my internship experience at Irene Marie. I basically got my foot in the door there by playing the numbers game like someone who works in sales. Going into this process, I knew that I had to have tough skin when facing rejection. After targeting 60-70 sports agencies, I emailed each and every one of them a very professional cover letter that expressed my interest in interning. My message was concise and clear. I offered my services for free and laid out for them tangible skills that I could bring to the table to add value to their organization. Making a solid first impression was essential, so I worked tirelessly on the letter and included specific examples that highlighted my skill set.
At the end of the day, I landed the internship at Irene Marie. It lasted 6-8 weeks. I viewed every day of my experience there as a job interview. At all times, I made sure I was on top of my game in terms of quality and presentation. Wearing formal business clothes was the norm for me. By summer’s end, I landed my first sports job.
7. Can you comment on the importance of networking in the sports industry?
I am a big fan of quality networking as opposed to quantity networking. Quality networking is all about developing strong, meaningful relationships with a smaller number of people. The connections you make this way are the ones you will feel comfortable calling on the phone and the ones who might get you a job some day. Quantity networking is more about becoming acquaintances with people in the business. It is more volume driven. While you may end up with a lot of business cards through this style of networking, you will probably only follow-up with some people. Your odds of getting a job this way are lower. You should focus more on making a lasting impression on a few people who might just remember you when the next job opening rolls around.
Overall, I feel that people focus too much on networking. Do not get me wrong. The people you know can definitely make a difference in helping you get your foot in the door. However, at the end of the day, it is more about what you can do for an employer. How are you going to help the business make money? Make sure you are able to show them a tangible skill that will give them a bang for their buck. Anyone can get your foot in the door, but if you cannot deliver, then that is on you. Do not let networking overshadow the skill set you can bring to the table. A good analogy would be a football player trying to make an NFL team. Someone his agent knows might get him a tryout. Yet, if he does not perform on the field, then you cannot blame the team for letting him go. Show off your skills!
MR: Can you comment on the importance of mentoring?
TC: In terms of mentoring, I am a big proponent of industry specific education. Latching on to a mentor in the sports industry who can show you the ropes is just one way to increase your chances of a successful sports career. Other methods include the knowledge you gain from internships and reading books by sports business professionals whose careers you admire. However you continue to learn about the sports business, it is important to not lose sight of the big picture. Seeking the advice of mentors will be useful as you chart your own career path. Take advantage of the people out there that are willing to help you out.
MR: Could you take me through a typical day at work? If no day is typical, what did you do yesterday, or what are you doing tomorrow?
TC: As a sports agent, the work that I do is very seasonal by nature. The pattern in which I do things is similar to the job requirements of a college football coach. For example, a college coach will spend part of the year recruiting, part of the year visiting boosters, and only a very small part actually coaching. This smaller piece is comparable to the time I spend negotiating contracts.
Recently, I just came back from a 10-day business trip. I attended two Steelers pre-season games, one against the Redskins and one against the Eagles. During this time, I spent time with my client Anthony Gray, attended training camp, and ate dinner with the team.
MR: What is the most rewarding aspect about working in sports?
TC: It really depends on what your job in the industry is. For instance, someone who negotiates contracts for a football team would find it rewarding to use his salary cap knowledge and skills to save his organization money by getting the best bang for its buck. On the other hand, I find it fulfilling to be around a player in college and see them develop as a young man when he makes the jump to the NFL. Watching a client achieve a lifetime goal while I am at their side is pretty special. For an athletic director, it would be satisfying to see your players extrapolate the values and ethics instilled in them as a varsity athlete into the real world (after their athletic career is over). It all really depends on your specific job type in the sports industry.
MR: If you had to give advice to someone looking to break into the sports industry, what would it be?
TC: In general, I would recommend participating in as many sports internships that you can get your hands on. While pursuing a JD or MBA can be useful, your best bet for landing a job is to diversify your experiences as an intern. One of the more successful interns I had did not purse an advanced degree and was still able to land a job with a top sports agency due to his wide array of internship experience.
If you are looking to become a sports agent, my best advice would be to run the numbers. What I mean by that is to make sure you understand the likelihood of your future earning potential. Set reasonable goals for the amount of players you think you can successfully sign as clients. Map out what you would spend on them and how long it would take for you to actually make money. Realistically, this may take a few years. Be sure to take into account travel expenses, training costs, etc. Overall, you want to understand what you are getting yourself into as a sports agent. Ask yourself if it makes sense for your career. Projecting your future potential earnings can definitely put things in perspective for those looking to become agents. Run those numbers!
MR: What do you do for fun when you are not at the office?
TC: When I am not in the office, I enjoy running and lifting weights. To be completely honest, sports agents do not have much free time, especially if they are running a boutique shop like I am. Being only a few years old, my business is still in start-up mode, so the hours are pretty much non-stop.