By Chrishari Mitchell
Elton Patterson is a man of many ambitions. He is a successful businessman, real estate agent, author, mentor and former professional football player. In the early 2000s, he battled on the gridiron as a Defensive End for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals. Perhaps even more unique, however, is that he now holds the designation of being one of the only African-American sports agents in the entire National Football League.
As an alum of the University of Central Florida, Patterson draws his experience from his playing days, as well as his education (he possesses both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees) to excel as the President and CEO of his company, Franchise Sports Agency, Inc. (FSA), that’s based in his hometown of Tallahassee, FL where he manages and develops some of the league’s young stars.
“The transition was pretty cool. I got a head start,” Patterson said. “I’m able to utilize most of the things. I learned when I was playing and give a different viewpoint than most agents; because I’ve actually been there.” Patterson added.
Still, despite his understanding of the game, being an agent certainly is no cake walk. A typical day for him consists of catering to almost every need imaginable for his clients.
“The NFL is always changing and this time of year, there is a lot of scouting, recruiting and preparing for next year’s draft,” Patterson stated.
Additional responsibilities include marketing, post-career planning, presenting real estate options and ensuring that the relocation of his players is as smooth a process as possible, among various other things. He currently represents several players, including Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Reggie Davis, and Tennessee Titans Cornerback Jeremy Boykins.
With the NFL consisting of thirty-two teams and a maximum of fifty-three players on each roster, excluding practice squad members, one would assume that agents have plenty of options to choose from. Unfortunately, that is not the case, especially for black sports agents. The agent market is heavily saturated, comprising of eight hundred NFL agents ambitiously scoping and watching for the 250 new prospects that enter the draft each year. With this alarming fact, Patterson, is very strategic and specific about who he signs.
“Character is important,” he replied. When asked about the qualities he looks for in potential clients. “We may not be the fastest to sign any guy, but [we do our homework]. We definitely look at character, what type of student he is, how he affects the game and his life outside of the game, because it is an investment,” he concluded.
In the cut-throat sports agency world, African-American agents are extremely under-represented and typically don’t get a shot at representing the top players. This is the case despite black athletes making up around 70 percent of NFL rosters. Patterson himself must continuously work harder than most to prove that he is a viable option.
When asked, What needs to be done to change black representation among agents? Patterson believes that more African-Americans should explore the profession, especially former players.
“Most guys should seek becoming an agent as a second career since they cannot play forever. A lot of people don’t understand the possibilities; And even though progress isn’t accelerating as quickly as one would hope, there has been improvement.” Patterson feels.
He continued: “There is growing room, not just for former players. Anyone can get a Master’s Degree and take the tests and make a difference as an agent.” Patterson received his Master’s Degree and became a certified NFLPA Contract Advisor in 2011.
Looking back on his journey to become a NFL player and then a successful businessman, Patterson aims to motivate and inspire others. He is currently preparing a tour for his first book “Ambition Equals Success” which shares how he overcame challenges to achieve his goals.
“I wanted to leave a mark on this world that would never leave, and a book was one of the things I wanted to do”, he reveals. “My road to success wasn’t an easy one and I wanted to share my story.
“The key tool for that was ambition. Ambition means you must keep going, have a plan, and never stop at any cause. With having passion, ambition and drive, success is inevitable. It’ll come sooner or later. Once you put that together with faith it’s a beautiful thing.” Patterson feels.
For more information on Elton Patterson and his Franchise Sports Agency, visit his websites at www.eltonpatterson.com and www.franchisesportsagency.net.