Summary of Next Question
The book, Next Question, written by Drew and Jason Rosenhaus, is a must read for anybody that is involved in a career of any kind, but especially marketing. Even though this book is written by two of the top NFL agents in today’s game and uses many sports analogies, the principle of what these two men describe can be utilized in any situation, big or small.
In a nutshell, the book starts off with an agent’s worst nightmare. One of Drew’s clients has been kicked off his team, the Philadelphia Eagles, because of Drew and as a result the player was punished more harshly than any other football player in the NFL up to that point. The press conference was held in Terrell Owens’ front yard where Drew and Owens were bombarded with very distasteful questions. The narrative then refers to how Drew and Owens had gotten to that point. Drew had taken up the opportunity to attend a celebrity bowling event with another of his clients, a Willis McGahee. Drew ended up talking with a very unhappy Owens, who was at the same bowling event. Owens was very unhappy with his current agent and had heard of how good Drew and Jason were, as a result, Owens wanted to meet with them. One of Drew’s clients on the same team had signed for 20 million for the first year of 3 years, over which the salary would rise with interest of over 10 percent each year, and Owens was stuck with a measly 9 million with a threatened pay cut to 3 million after Owens had carried the Eagles to a Super Bowl (his first year at the Eagles). Also, Owens was coming off several Pro Bowl years, and Drew’s client had not attended a single Pro Bowl.This is just a small example of how Owens’ previous agent had cost him. As a result, Owens hired Drew and Jason as his agents. After being hired, Drew and Owens went to the Eagles on a mission to renegotiate Owens’ contract, which did not go over well. After it became apparent that nether side was going to compromise, an all out media war started. It finally came to a head when Owens was suspended for the season, with 8 games to go, costing Owens millions, plus a fine of $1.7 million. Which brings us back to the beginning of the story with the press conference. With Drew and Owens on the podium, reporters were tossing unsavory questions and with Drew being known as an aggressive player when it comes to his clients, things did not look very optimistic. Even with all the ugliness and dirt the media was throwing, Drew stayed true to his philosophy, which is “Next Question” by answering each question with his famous “next question.” Drew notes that philosophy coincides with believing in yourself and asking yourself “what do I have to do next to succeed.”
Chapter two, “Next Question Part II”, begins where chapter 1 leaves off. Owens was facing losses of $2.4 million. With Drew and Jason’s backs to the wall, and Owens right beside them, Drew insisted they would adhere to the “Next Question” philosophy, and fight to find a way to get Owens back better than ever. It was noted by Drew that Owens could have easily fired Drew and Jason, but instead showed a lot of character and professionalism by staying loyal to Drew and Jason.
One thing stood in their way and the glory of victory. That obstacle was none other than their appeal at the NFLPA legal department. Richard Bloch, the arbitrator assigned to the case was known as a “play by the rules” kind of guy. Even though Owens’ legal team knew they would win the case, it was still suggested by Jason that Owens try to reconcile with his coach and try to avoid the hearing. After a 13 hour hearing, Owens’ team had been confident that they had won. Unfortunately, a short while later, the verdict had come in and Owens had lost on everything. Drew and Jason were up the proverbial certain creek without a paddle with Owens in tow. Nothing seemed fair or possible at that point. The reaction across the world, inside and outside of the NFL was mixed. Ultimately, Bloch was chastised and forbidden to handle any other NFL case based on failure to reach a verdict based on rules, but rather, on evidence inappropriately pieced together to favor one side over the other.
Even with that, Owens was still between a rock and a hard place. The Eagles had notified Drew and Owens that he was only eligible to receive the signing bonuses rather than the withheld paychecks the Eagles had retained over the whole fiasco. One silver lining remained, the Eagles had given Drew permission to talk to other teams about trading Owens. The Denver Broncos had come forward and were interested in trading for Owens, contract and all. The only problem was that the Broncos weren’t willing to pay a big deal contract for Owens. Drew and Jason decided to go to the Indianapolis Combine and talk with a few teams to line up a few possibilities. After all was said and done, Owens ended up signing with the Dallas Cowboys for $10 million. After all was done, Terrell Owens profited $9 million more with the Cowboys than he would have if he had stayed with the Eagles.
In chapter 3, “Sell Yourself Not Your Soul,” we get a first glimpse of how important a certain man, Young Soo Do, was to Drew and Jason. Grand Master Young Soo Do was Drew and Jason’s martial arts instructor from their childhood. Grand Master Young Soo Do was gunned down by what appeared to be a hit man in front of his dojo, while his son was teaching a class, no less. At the hospital where Grand Master Young Soo Do had passed away after a grueling surgery to repair his intestines. Fluid had filled Grand Master Young Soo Do’s lungs and sent him into cardiac failure. While this great man passed away, Jason was at his bedside, holding his hand, surrounded by Young Soo Do’s family and friends.
Drew also introduces another man that had a great impact on him, his father. Drew describes his father as a hard working businessman, a good man in the midst of a shrewd market. Drew and Jason’s father had a business that went out of business when the brothers were in middle and high school. Even though the brothers knew things were tough (but did not fully comprehend it) they, somehow, were provided with braces, nice clothes, an allowance and cool cars. Drew recalls a very impactful moment in his life when his father, a muscular man who was known to have a temper but a good heart, told Drew to be tougher than him.
In Drew’s childhood, around 12 years of age, a bully wanted to fight him and as it came down to it, Drew walked away full of fear. Coincidentally, the following week, Drew and Jason’s father brought them to a Tae Kwon Do school that was nothing more than a hole in the wall at the time. Inside was a class being taught by a man, Grand Master Young Soo Do. The walls were littered with pictures of him in Vietnam, doing strength and coordination feats of amazement. After meeting with Young Soo Do, Drew and Jason’s father had one request, which was “make my boys tough”. As a result, Young Soo Do had done just that, Drew and Jason learned mental toughness as well as physical toughness, which they carried with them all through their lives and careers. Drew publicly credits Grand Master Young Soo Do as the man that made him into the man he is today, and that man is the top NFL agent in the game.
Bet on Yourself
Chapter 4, “Bet On Yourself”, focuses on the fact that if you don’t bet on yourself, nobody will. This chapter tells a story of Willis McGahee, a 6’1” 225 lb MVP UM running back. McGahee, at 22 years of age, was ready to enter the NFL draft with a signing bonus of $15 million ready and waiting for him. Unfortunately, at the end of McGahee’s college career, the NCAA National Championship, McGahee’s knee blew out in the fourth quarter from a direct hit from an opposing player.
McGahee’s knee was severely dislocated and three ligaments were torn. The diagnosis was a year’s worth of reconstructive surgery and grueling rehabilitation, plus the $15 million paycheck was out the window. Oddly enough, while McGahee was in the hospital, he was signed with an agent after deciding to come out early. The best outlook was that if rehab went well, he would be drafted in the 6th round. In the NFL world, that isn’t optimistic financially. The difference between the first draft and the rest is literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. McGahee still had his senior year to prove himself. After a chance meeting with McGahee at UM, Drew found out that he was unhappy with his agent and knowing what a good player he was, Drew decided to take a chance. After getting on board, McGahee’s doctors claimed that rehab was going very well and McGahee was very much ahead of schedule, in short, the doctors had never seen anything like it before. With things going so well, Drew believed that McGahee would be able to be drafted in the first round. The experts and public’s opinion did not agree with Drew’s beliefs.
Regardless of popular opinion, Drew believed in McGahee so much that before rehab was done, Drew went on national television and stated that McGahee WAS going to be drafted in the first round. Drew put his reputation on the line for an injured, but driven, UM senior. After a season of hard work and determination from both McGahee and Drew, McGahee was picked up by the Buffalo Bills, on the first round!
Distinguish Yourself, Part I
Chapter 5, “Distinguish Yourself,” stresses the importance of making yourself unique from everybody else. In one of this chapters’ stories, Drew mentions a freshman at UM named Robert Bailey. Bailey was a corner-back at 5’10” and 175 lbs. As everybody knows, at that size, you would get murdered on a field filled with 6’3” 225 plus lbs. Anybody else would get killed, but not Bailey. Drew noted Bailey as being the smallest guy, but had the biggest heart on the team. This was during a time when the infamous Jimmy Johnson was head coach at UM. Bailey played with such a ferocity that he played scrimmages just like he would a real game, hitting guys at full speed and taking down guys that were twice, sometimes three times his size. Jimmy Johnson loved him so much, he made an exception that has never happened before, Jimmy let Bailey start.
As a result, Bailey did not let Jimmy Johnson regret his decision. Where Bailey was not the biggest, fastest, or meanest player, he distinguished himself by having the intelligence, effort and toughness that brought him to the pros. Even though he was not a starter, he still played like he was and did very well for himself. Even after being bounced around from team to team three times, Bailey kept coming back and as a result he won an ESPY Award for longest punt return ever with the Detroit Lions and helped the Ravens win a Super Bowl. Today, Bailey is now a partner with Drew and Jason Rosenhaus.
Distinguish Yourself, Part II
In chapter 6, Distinguish Yourself Part II”, Drew tells how he distinguished himself. Drew states that he distinguished himself by being “the good guy”. This statement is very odd, considering he was voted Sports Illustrated’s 1996 Most Hated Man in the NFL. Drew credits this award as a compliment since he fights tooth and nail and is considered ruthless when it comes to his clients. This same ruthlessness earned him the nickname, “The Shark”, where other agents hate him but want to be him. Drew distinguishes himself from putting himself in another category in a shrewd business, and that category is filled with integrity and honesty. In short, Drew is a good guy with the ferocity of a lion in an industry that is composed of agents with the shrewdness of a rat.
We get an insight of where he started in the NFL industry. Drew, in the late 1980’s, worked for another agent named Mel Levine. Drew’s first year working with Mel brought forth huge successes, several new rookies were signed, Drew was given a hefty salary with no financial responsibility, and was also promised that his brother, Jason, would be brought on board. Regardless of this great success and job appeal, Drew wanted to be his own man and build his own company from the ground up. Drew could not be good, he wanted to be great. Upon reaching the decision to leave Mel, Drew brought his top recruit, Robert Massey, with him. Drew had to distinguish himself from the others, as a result, Drew convinced ESPN to televise Massey getting drafted at Drew’s apartment, along with Massey’s negotiations with Jim Finks, a hard nosed, tough as nails veteran negotiator. The plan was a success and Drew was able to successfully distinguish himself, an act that will most likely follow him for the rest of his life.
Know Which Battles to Pick
Chapter 7, “Know Which Battles to Pick”, Drew emphasizes one, if not the hardest, year where everything went wrong, some of his clients fired him, some were snatched from under him, and others just avoided him like the plague. Even through a hard year, Drew and Jason still kept their composure and stayed strong. When the opportunity to attain Warren Sapp came up, both Drew and Jason wanted the Hurricane superstar as their client – very badly. Sapp had won over Miami while still in college and was a one of a kind player, the kind of player Drew and Jason wanted and needed.
When Drew and Jason approached Sapp, they did not receive any special treatment from him. Sapp was as tough off the field as he was on. Drew noted that one had to earn the respect of Sapp, respect that was not easily attained. After a number of friends referring Drew and Jason to Sapp, a meeting was finally set up. Sapp was a student of the game and wanted his agents to be the same, if not more. After a long and arduous fight of proving themselves to Sapp, Drew and Jason finally signed him.The Big Idea
In Chapter 8, “The Big Idea”, Drew explains how important a big idea is to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Drew states, “I really believe that if you work hard to achieve your goal, hard work alone won’t get you there. It’s the hard work that puts you in a position to have a chance at getting what you want”. The story that takes up this chapter revolves around a great player named Jeremy Shockey.
Shockey was a phenomenon from UM, and was everybody’s top target. Drew and Jason had a very hard time getting Shockey to sign with them. Even though Drew and Jason had the upper hand by representing many of Shockey’s friends from UM, they were losing their momentum. Shockey’s roommate had signed with one agent and was pulling for Shockey to sign with his agent. Along with the roommate’s pressures, Shockey’s mother preferred another agent. Regardless to say, the odds were against Drew and Jason from every possible angle. After many missed opportunities, Jason, who had established his place as a strategist, suggested they bring Shockey’s mother down for a short stay. After meeting and having dinner with the mother, Drew and Jason had the mother’s approval. As a result, Shockey ended up signing with Drew and Jason, all because of the big idea of including Shockey’s mother!
Knowing When to Pull the Trigger
In Chapter 9, “Knowing When to Pull the Trigger,” Drew talks about being patient and knowing when to attack. The main story in this chapter is about a great player named Clinton Portis, or “CP”. CP was voted the 2002 NFL Rookie of the Year and ran for almost 1,500 yards. CP was very unhappy with his contract, which when compared to one of Drew’s clients’ contract, came very short of his market price ($225,000 compared with $1 million with the possibility of $4 million more in incentives).
CP had approached Drew, they ended up talking about how Drew could come up with a better contract. Later, CP ended up firing his agent to sign with Drew and Jason. Unfortunately, the Broncos were not willing to pay CP more, even though he had vastly outperformed his contract on the field. A plan was structured to where CP could be traded for another player. After a long, dragged out period of waiting, there were still no bites from any other team. The reason being a General Manager of a team is in charge of hiring players, if the player under-performs, the GM could lose his/her job. Because of that hard fact, not many GMs were willing to take the chance on CP. Drew finally was able to attack an opportunity of meeting with Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins. Since Snyder was the owner, he did not have to worry about getting fired. After a hard battle and long negotiations, Drew and CP finally pulled the trigger. CP signed a contract that made him the richest running back (contract wise) in the history of the NFL.
Know When to Stand Your Ground
In Chapter 10, “Know When to Stand Your Ground”, Drew talks about the necessity of standing your ground even when the odds are against you. For instance a 2nd country ranked defensive end named Adelwale “Wale” Ogunleye was looking at a lucrative career in the NFL. Unfortunately, in the middle of his senior year, he injured his knee so badly, it looked as if his football career was over before it had started. Even after this injury, he was still eligible, the Miami Dolphins drafted him with a $7,500 bonus (very meager in today’s NFL industry). Wale didn’t give up regardless of the insurmountable odds against him. Wale worked every day for a year in order to get healthier and become more of a pick than he was when he was injured.
Wale ended up approaching Drew and Jason about signing him on as a client. Drew and Jason signed him as a client even though the short term outlook didn’t look good at all. The reason Drew and Jason took a chance on him was their impeccable eye for talent and potential. Jason saw the natural talent within Wale, even though he wasn’t playing at 100%. Drew was able to sign Wale with a one year contract with the Dolphins at $300,000, even though Wale didn’t play any games in the previous season. As the second year with the Dolphins came to an end, Wale had earned his position as a starting pass rusher.
Regardless of Wale outperforming his contract, the Dolphins would not go over $375,000 in Wale’s third year. In the third year with the Dolphins, Wale earned the MVP Award. Drew and Jason thought it was time for the big contract, so they executed a plan of attack. The Dolphins signed Wale on a one year contract worth $1.8 million, but Wale wanted more, and it was Drew’s job to get him what he wanted. In order for Wale to get his big contract was to become an unrestricted free agent, unfortunately, Wale was still under contract with the Dolphins as a restricted free agent. After long and hard negotiations between the Rosenhauses and the Dolphins, along with the help of a couple of lucky incidents inside the Dolphins team, Wale finally got traded to the Chicago Bears. Wale’s contract with the Bears was a $34 million over six years with signing bonuses worth $15 million.
The Value of Relationships
In chapter 11, “The Value of Relationships,” Drew emphasizes the importance of keeping relationships alive. While Jason was a student at UM, he had become close with a player named Jessie Armstead. Even though Jessie was a great athlete by regular standards, he was still treated as a second rate player. Armstead wasn’t big enough to be a linebacker, nor fast enough to be a safety so he was dubbed a “tweener”, a guy stuck in between positions. In his senior year, Armstead was rotated with another player, or a “part time starter”.
Even though the odds were against Armstead, Jason still signed him as a client. When NFL draft day came around, Armstead came in with the 8th round pick, which normally, 8th round picks don’t make it in the league. Regardless of this overwhelming statistic, Armstead made his first year on the team playing special teams with a fearlessness and intelligence that was to be reckoned with. Coming into his third year, as a part time linebacker, Armstead became a full time starter by his 4th year. With nothing but grit and determination, Armstead went from an 8th round pick to a five time Pro Bowl linebacker and one of the best in the NFL. Not only was Armstead one of Drew and Jason’s biggest grossing client, but during Armstead’s time at the Giants, he referred 2 players to Drew and Jason, which turned into 6 players.
Today, most of Drew and Jason’s clients are from referrals from fellow players. It’s all about the relationship!
Be a Good Loser
Chapter 12, “Be a Good Loser,” focuses on winning and losing like a winner. Nobody likes a sore loser, especially when it’s your representative, or agent. An agent who is a sore loser can be very embarrassing to a player, in terms of appearance.
In 1999, Drew wanted to sign a top running back prospect named Edgerrin “EJ” James. Drew had dominated the top picks at UM for 5 years straight and decided to go all out with EJ. Drew put all his eggs in one basket that year with EJ. For six months, Drew was persistent and unrelenting with signing EJ on as a client. After all that time and effort by Drew, EJ decided to go with another agent. Rather than avoiding Drew out of awkwardness, EJ called Drew and commented on his appreciation of what Drew did. Drew took the loss in stride and assured EJ that there were no hard feelings and wished him nothing but the best of luck. Where Drew acted like a gentleman with nothing to show for his money and time put into recruiting EJ, other agents bad mouthed EJ to the media. Finally, in 2004, after crossing paths with EJ time and time again, Drew signed him on as a client.
EJ’s decision to sign with Drew after all those years was due to the fact that he was considered a veteran and no team would pay him top dollar to play, but rather cater to the “young buck”. EJ ended up with a 4 year contract worth $30 million. It pays to be a good loser at all times.
Put Yourself in Position for Opportunity and Seize It
Chapter 13, “Put Yourself in Position for Opportunity and Seize It,” talks about not taking opportunities for granted. Drew notes that it’s not about how smart, talented, or well off you are, but in order to succeed in the real world, you have to be a worker. This means always hustling and putting forth your best effort so you can constantly put yourself in the path of opportunity and be prepared for it. During the 2008 Super Bowl week, Drew was fighting a flu, a kidney infection, and an angular tear between the L4 and L5 vertebrae that was hitting a nerve and sending shooting pains down his leg. On top of that internal war, agents were telling other prospective clients that Drew and Jason had too many clients and weren’t paying attention to them among other blatant lies in order to get the edge. Even when things couldn’t have seemed any worse, Jason had called Drew and notified him that their client Bernard Berrian, a Chicago Bears wide receiver, was preparing to let them go.
Drew and Jason absolutely hate and dread losing clients not just because of the money, but also the ripple effect and embarrassment it causes. To Drew, the worst thing that could happen is to lose a client with whom he considers a friend and has a great relationship with, such was the case with Berrian.
Apparently, the word was that a rival agent told Berrian that he wasn’t a priority to Drew. Upon hearing this, Drew tried to call Berrian, but could not reach him. Drew did the only thing he could think of, regardless of the pain he was going through, Drew flew down to Fresno that day to put himself in a position to take a chance and to try to meet Berrian. Upon arriving in Fresno, Drew, in agony, text messaged Berrian. Needless to say, Berrian was very impressed and moved that Drew, regardless of what he was going through, came down to meet with Berrian face to face. Berrian ended up staying with Drew and signed on with the Minnesota Vikings at a whopping $36 million.
Be a Leader
Chapter 14, “Be a Leader,” talks about being a leader in an environment of followers. Drew and Jason are not scared of taking initiative and seizing the moment regardless of what the majority think. In one instance, a former UM tight end, Greg Olsen had just been drafted by the Chicago Bears and also had signed with Drew and Jason. The media and fans were in an uproar chastising Olsen saying he had the right team but the wrong agent. They were sure Olsen was going to become a “holdout” player, or a player that holds out for the best deal possible.
Drew, in his opinion, believes that it’s his job to take the heat for his player and redirected the heat from Olsen to himself. With negotiations coming up, it wasn’t bad enough that Drew was facing a team (the Chicago Bears) that never overpaid for players with a client that wanted more than the norm. With a new rule in play that allowed players to take a last minute incentive without playing against their salary, Drew and Jason were backed up into a wall. The word out at negotiations was that Drew and Jason would hold out and be one of the last agents to sign. The big deal is that the longer you wait, the more your player, or client “depreciates”. Drew and Jason did not want that for Olsen, so they came up with a plan where Jason would come up with a formula that would please both sides, and with the Bears, that was no easy task. After a hard fought battle in negotiations, Olsen signed a 5 year $10.7 million deal where the same pick last year had made $9.7 million. Drew and Jason were leaders and dictated the market rather than let the market dictate them.
Be a Kid at Heart
In Chapter 15, “Be a Kid at Heart,” Drew confesses some unusual things in today’s world. As an adult, Drew’s house is littered with posters of Conan, Batman, Rocky, 300, and various superheroes. Along with posters are sculptures and comic books. Drew and Jason both collected comic books and baseball cards as kids, and they admit they still do. Drew notes that in the professional world, we become dehumanized and emotionally cold with our clients or patients. Drew likes to look at agents as comic book heroes, or at least should act like one.
One instance is Frank Gore, a spectacular running back from UM that impressed Drew and Jason at the tender age of 18. After Gore’s junior year, Drew and Jason signed him on. Unfortunately, Gore tore his right ACL weeks after he was signed. Drew urged him to stay in school for one more year to ensure he would get into the first draft. An occurrence that would not happen since Gore decided to come out early despite a torn ACL. Come to find out, Gore’s mother was not doing well and Gore wanted to make more money as soon as possible to take care of his mother. Gore ended up with a 3rd pick which allowed him to sign a 3 year contract worth $1 million with a $600,000 signing bonus with the San Francisco 49ers. This was positive but the contract stated that his salary would drop by over half if he suffered a career ending injury in the preseason or in 2 years.
Gore ended up injuring both shoulders, but fortunately, the 49ers saw too much in Gore to let him go. Gore looked good but not great in the first two seasons. After the third season, Gore led the NFC in rushing yards and led the NFL in average yards per carry. Gore was becoming a superstar in his own right. When it came time to renegotiate Gore’s contract , the 49ers wanted to pay Gore a 2 year $1.8 million contract. Drew thought Gore deserved more. After more negotiations, Gore signed a 5 year $28 million contract! Sadly, right after the signing, Gore’s mother died, but not before she saw her son become a success. Drew noted that he was proud to be a part of that. I guess agents are kind of like superheroes. Well…some of them anyways.
To contact the authors of this summary/review, please email Matt Jennings, (Matthew.Jennings@selu.edu), Law Olivier (Lawrence.Olivieremail@example.com), and Todd Rhoden (Todd.Rhoden@selu.edu).
David C. Wyld (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Robert Maurin Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, and executive educator. His blog, Wyld About Business, can be viewed at http://wyld-business.blogspot.com/. He also has a book summary/review blog that is a collection of his students’ works at http://wyld-about-books.blogspot.com/.