I had the pleasure of interviewing Sam Tiger; someone I have had been working with for the past few years. Sam’s passion for the sports and entertainment industry blossomed from a young age, she knew growing up that she loved football, whether it was watching it, or analyzing the players in the game, it was only right she was driven to pursue it as a career. Love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life, right? Sam was also a competitive dancer as a child, she practiced 6/7 days a week and competed equestrian. Surprisingly, when I asked Sam what her favorite team was, she told me she wasn’t a team person but more so a “player person” some of her favorites include Peyton Manning.
Sam completed her bachelor’s degree in Business Management at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida and further pursued her education by receiving an MBA with a Focus on Sports Law and Management as well. Sam is a NFLPA Certified Contract Advisor, better known as an NFL Agent, and is licensed in numerous states to handle the upcoming NIL Marketing. Further, Sam is also an Adjunct Sports Management and Business Professor, Sam wanted to pursue teaching to continue paving the way for students to understand just what goes into the job, and how to be prepared for the fast-paced environment of the agent world.
Sam was able to get into the position she is in today by working in several different employment opportunities, marketing, events, internships, and volunteer work. Working in the Sports Business is what fueled Sam’s desire to work through these opportunities. Completing these in undergrad helped her navigate and learn what she did enjoy doing and what she wasn’t strong at so she could better herself professionally. After Sam had around 3 years of full-time experiences through events such as the Orange Bowl and the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl, her gut was telling her that what she was doing at the time, wasn’t what she wanted to do in the long run. So, Sam packed her bags and moved home, which was Buffalo, New York at the time. Sam had never lived in Buffalo which required more work and dedication to navigate what’s next. Sam always knew she wanted to be an agent, she was drawn to the players and her desire for players to have someone to assist them with their marketing and PR events and their daily lives. Sam knew she was starting over in a way and knew the importance of building personal relationships.
Sam decided to send DMs to different agents on social media platforms to try and build her personal relationships. One of the people that answered Sam and gave her a shot was Kelli Masters, who was the first female agent to have a first-round draft pick. Shane Costa, a University at Buffalo School of Law graduate was among one of the others to answer Sam and help. Sam emphasized that working with other agents in the field solidified her decision and that’s how she knew she wanted to work with an agent. Sam also emphasized that you must bring something to the table, don’t expect handouts, expect to work. This ideology builds on the mentality that Sam emphasized, “One DM and ONE response can go a long way, personal relationships are everything.” After this Sam decided to get the advanced degree mention while working retail in her spare time. After passing the NFLPA certification test, Sam got right to work.
A typical “day to day” for Sam is everchanging however, there are some important daily tasks. Talking to players and talking to parents is one of the big work responsibilities. Keeping on top of conversations, emails, recruiting for the upcoming drafts, and constant communication is key. Sam emphasized that you cannot ever be shut off or be disconnected, again constant communication is key. Building and maintain what has been grown is important. Sam also has an entertainment sector that she built with influencers. Keeping and maintaining those relationships on top of her athletes are important as well.
Out of curiosity, I decided to ask Sam if it is possible to have such a busy business life and maintain a personal life. Sam stated that it is difficult to have a personal life, but for her, she gets so much enjoyment out of her job and that makes it all worth it. Sam states, “This is a PERSONAL kind of job, you should want to care and more importantly us as agents have the fiduciary duty to care about our clients. But we have to manage our clients and manage our emotions.” Another big part of the job that makes having a personal life difficult is the amount of travel. But to Sam, traveling alone is cool, having the opportunity to meet new people is an amazing benefit. However, it goes without saying that it can be a lonely job sometimes, most of the job is alone between travel, eating alone, recruiting alone and more. Personally, Sam loves it.
Sam and I then discussed the importance of female agents in the industry. Personally, Sam believes that she would love if we could get to a point where we don’t have to put “female” in front of things. Achieving that sense of equality would make agent life easier. Since were not at that point yet Sam believes that it is important to have confidence in this field. Whether it is talking to players, parents, or other agents, confidence is crucial. The only frustration Sam has is the assumption of female agents. Which is almost understandable because most female agents haven’t played football, but Sam also emphasized, “Not every person in the sport has actually played football.”
While being in school, I wanted to ask Sam how important it is to go through the, “bottom of the totem pole” jobs. Sam conveyed, “In sports in general – I don’t know a successful person that hasn’t worked a job that has paid poorly, working insane hours, or missing holidays. There was a point in time where I didn’t have Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Birthdays with my family for years.” That’s not to say that she is advocating to work for free, but she believes that to be successful you must do the work. Sam also emphasized that, “There is a big misconception especially living in our generation that there is almost more pressure to not do the little work, it is important to realize that you won’t know everything about the position you are in when you start. But it is also your responsibility to study, take that exam, do your research, because no one is going to hold your hand. It is important to find the people and mentors that keep it real with you.”
Lastly, I wanted to ask Sam about some clients she has found her most success with. Sam emphasized that they all have something unique to each of them and the ones that challenge you the most but stick with you are the most rewarding and the ones you learn the most about. Aaron Williams from the Buffalo Bills is a key player Sam attests her success too. Sam states, “I learned so much through him, through Aaron alone I am now working with his brother who is an influencer and has 2.1 million followers on Instagram. Learning so much from my work with Aaron helped guide me to becoming a better agent which in turn opened many doors for me and led to new business relationships that helped me grow my name, reputation, and business.” Along with these experiences Sam attests to the importance of getting thick skin. Sam thought she had thick skin initially going into this business but throughout the process she has learned that just because this is a personal business doesn’t mean everything needs to be taken personal. Sam had to learn it and go through the trials and tribulations that agency life involves.
“You grow through what you go through”
I want to thank Sam again for taking the time to meet with me. Learning about someone who worked so hard to be in the position they are in is inspiring.
University at Buffalo School of Law Class of 2023
Former college softball player, now focusing on the start of my legal career with the hope that I can continue combining my love for sports with my love for the law.