NFL OOH Interviews David Canter

Joined: February 1st, 2010, 10:43 pm

May 18th, 2012, 10:16 pm #1

Following from previous NFL OOH interviews with players and pundits alike we're now venturing into a different area of the NFL as player representative David Canter was kind enough to give up some of his time and provide an insight into his sector of the NFL.

Let's start at the beginning; having signed your first client, Lamar Thomas, after a chance encounter at a gas station; can you give us an outline of your own background and route into the athlete representation industry?

I was very lucky to have an extremely supportive mother who worked beyond hard to be able to get season tickets to the Dolphins. While attending games I met a lot of the players and their families and babysat the players' children during games. I eventually spent some time with my father in New Jersey and he was in a business with a lot of then current professional baseball players. I got to meet them all, get to know them and see what their agents did for them.

By the time I was 13-14 I realized I might be able to do some of the same things and began trying to play sports in college and study at the same time. I ended up at Ithaca College in the sports management program and on the football team. While at Ithaca I did my internship in the baseball operations department [with the Florida Marlins] and decided to go to law school after the strike of 94.

If there is such a thing, can you describe your typical day?

I can't really do that because for 16 plus years there's never been a normal or typical day. That's the best part of the job; it's always new, challenging and fresh. For example this morning I was driving to the airport and helping a client out with a legal issue [along with] my general counsel Adam Kenner then I boarded a plane and this evening I'm watching my client Stephen Davis be inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame. It's a dream come true to be a part of these great people and great athletes' lives. I cherish every day being a part of their inner circle.

DEC Management has been established for some time now with many NFL stars on your books, how do you go about your client recruitment process?

Recruiting is a constant process that never ends. You are always hoping and looking for new clients. In the old days I would really hit the pavement and recruit a ton of college kids. The new CBA and the amount of agents offering money or perks to players has really limited how much college recruiting I do. Now almost all of our new business comes from referrals of clients.

When does the process of perusing college athletes for their potential signatures begin?

I don't really spend a lot of time looking at college kids nearly as much as I used to. Now it's maintaining our existing clients and picking up the occasional veteran or college kid.

How early in the process and in what form does interaction with college athletes first take place?

You can start talking to college players in their junior years as long as you're registered.

With three of your bigger clients (Sean Smith, Eric Weddle & Paul Soliai) and 2012 UDFAs (Derrick Shelby & Conroy Black) all making their way to the NFL via college careers with Utah do you target specific schools such as Utah in your recruitment?

Utah has been a great school for us because we've done an outstanding job for the players from there. The older players, and especially Eric, have referred us to their friends. Obviously he has helped lead us to represent not only players from there but coaches as well.

What do you look for (character/background/stats/location etc) in your clients?

High character is the number one trait I look for. Professionalism and an understanding of what it takes to be successful along with obvious talent. It's highly important to represent good people who happen to be great athletes. Life is too short and too precious to deal with assholes no matter how much money they can make you!

With the amount of money in the college game do you think college players should be able to have earned from the game before they graduate into the pros?

Yes I am 100% in support of a reward and payment program in major college athletics. These young men and women make their universities and colleges millions and billions of dollars. They should be able to share in the proceeds. I also support a college football playoff but that's for another time.

The NFL has recently finished with the 'superbowl of off-season events' that is the draft. You've had clients with a range of draft day experiences, from 1st round joy to undrafted uncertainty. How do you, as an agent, go about the draft process? And what did your draft weekend consist of this year?

My draft weekend was very mellow and subdued this year because we knew we weren't going to have any high draft picks. The work aspect was making sure we could position our later round [or] undrafted players in good settings where they could make the team and we did that. It's not a massive profit center for us anymore so [we] were not willing to over extend ourselves or try to buy clients with marketing guarantees nor big training stipends like other agencies. So if we sign a few draft picks great, if we don't we know our business will continue to survive and thrive either way.

Last year the San Diego chargers made your client Eric Weddle the highest paid Safety in the NFL - can you describe just how happy you feel as the ink dries on such a deal?

I think it was a combination of relief, excitement for his family and joy in knowing that all of the promises I made to him and his family 4 plus years ago had come true. Eric is the most special human being I have ever had the privilege to work for and he's my best friend. I owe a tremendous amount of my success to his friendship his loyalty and his belief in my work. It was a great day but the months of stress leading up to the deal with the work stoppage are not something I want to revisit anytime soon.

The job must be a very varied one with big ups and downs; What do you find is the hardest aspect of the job? Conversely, what is the most rewarding part of being an agent?

The ups certainly outweigh the downs but by a much closer margin than most people would believe. I live and die with my clients' successes and when they fail, get hurt, get cut or the worst when the teams just stop calling and asking about them hurt far more than [the positives] when you do a big deal or sign a big client. I often say being a sports agent is living life on a perpetual roller coaster that undulates by the seconds.

Being based in South Florida, going to games from a young age and with a number of clients on the team, how do you rate the Dolphin's organization from a front office point of view? As a lot has been said recently, rightly or wrongly, by media and fans alike.

I really like the organizational structure of the Dolphins. I think it's taking the owner a few years to find his footing but this isn't like any other industry and that's to be expected. Since Jeff and Parcells came over from Dallas they've had consistently solid drafts and added key veterans like Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby. I think Brian Gaine is one of the smartest and hardest working personnel directors in football and he will be a GM within 2-3 years tops. Chris Grier does a great job and they have one of the best and deepest scouting departments. Also Jeff and Dawn Aponte have done an amazing job getting big players like Cam Wake, my client Paul Soliai and Devone Bess to sign very fair value type deals. I don't know much about the new coaching staff but believe in the short time that I spent with him that Joe will be a fine head coach. After that it's up to health, avoiding key player injuries and winning within the division. No easy task.

Following on from that are there any teams that you prefer dealing with or otherwise and why?

Obviously the teams that pay my clients the most money are my favorite but I've never had any consistent issue with any team and I've done contracts with all of them. I certainly don't play favorites when it comes to my clients but I have a lot of respect for the Spanos family, AJ Smith, Ed Mcguire and Norv Turner and how they've handled me and my clients over the years. We've done amazing deals like Eric Weddle's and Jyles Tucker's together [and] one worked out great and Jyles' didn't and both times it was done with class. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Marty Hurney and Jerry Richardson from the Panthers as well. They've treated me like family over the years and have my good friend Ron Rivera as head coach after changing from my other good friend John Fox. When they had their Superbowl run they never excluded me and always made me feel welcome. Same holds true today. They are as classy as they get.

Away from football you have a keen interest in soccer, being a Chelsea fan, and have recently taken up golf - are these purely social interests or could you see yourself branching out your agency pursuits to different sports in the future?

I've always felt like there are other players in other sports and fields that could utilize our services and personal touch but entry into those worlds is quite difficult. It's certainly something I wish for and will work towards, but my love of soccer and golf will continue regardless of if or when we represent talent in those areas.

What are your hopes and aspirations for DEC Management 10 years from now?

I'd like to see my clients and their families continue to live out their dreams. 10 years ago I would have said the same thing. I'll still be doing this in 10 years and in 20 and 30 years. It's my life's work, my passion and I consider myself most fortunate to be in this business and in these special people's lives. If we get into other sports and represent other athletes that would be fantastic as well.

To finish off and almost most importantly, your prediction for Chelsea in the Champions League final this coming weekend?!

Nothing comes easy but it's been such a bizarre year with the hiring and then failures and firing of Andre Villa Boas to the stunning turnaround of RDM winning the FA cup and the insane victory over Barca. I hope and pray they win next weekend. I will be glued to my television set and probably tweeting about it via @davidcanter. I hope the members of Chelsea read this and invite me to be a part of the Miami based activities when they come over in July! I want to be around the team as much as possible. Not so much as an agent but as a fan. My son already has his kit ready. Go BLUES!
As with all interviews huge thanks have to be offered to David for taking the time to talk to us and widen our collective insight into the life of individuals closely associated with the NFL. His agency's website and David's personal twitter account can be found at the top of the article and I'd encourage you all to give him a follow and peruse his website.

Last edited by _M@_ on May 18th, 2012, 11:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Joined: April 18th, 2009, 8:23 pm

May 18th, 2012, 10:57 pm #2

What a fantastic interview. Gives a completely different insight into the game. He seems like a stand up guy (wants his players to succeed as people and family members as well as football players rather than seeing them as a commodity). Terrific stuff M@ and cheers to David for doing this for little old us.

Joined: March 9th, 2009, 8:06 pm

May 18th, 2012, 11:18 pm #3

I like that guy, he has excellent taste in Football/Soccer.

Big thank you to both Matt and David for making this happen. Was very interested to take in what he said, most agents I assumed were money-grabbers who try and make as much money both for and from their clients as possible but he seems a top guy who has good relationships with the players he represents.
Last edited by PFGers73 on May 18th, 2012, 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: May 12th, 2009, 8:39 pm

May 19th, 2012, 6:22 pm #4

Very intresting read so much different to what I thought an agent would be like seems a decent guy :up:.

Thanks M@

Joined: August 8th, 2009, 9:23 pm

May 20th, 2012, 12:35 pm #5

Been meaning to comment on this after reading it the other day - great interview, very interesting read as well.

Well done Matt for setting it up :)

Joined: February 1st, 2010, 10:43 pm

May 26th, 2012, 11:03 pm #6

bit of a bump if anyone missed it :)

Joined: August 10th, 2010, 2:58 pm

May 27th, 2012, 12:56 am #7

Outstanding Matt. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Nice work.

Joined: February 1st, 2010, 10:43 pm

April 3rd, 2017, 2:21 pm #8

Just cleaning out OLD emails and found the interactions that led to this...

Such a shame that OOH is struggling as it is!!