Professional sports agents pride themselves on building trust and close relationships with their clients. This year, however, the global pandemic has created a much more distant form of communication.
“It’s tough because a lot has been done virtually, which to me is not the same,” said Suffolk University Law School alumna Kim Miale JD ’04. “This has really changed the recruiting process entirely for agents and it’s very difficult to evaluate new talent under these circumstances.”
Miale, an NFL agent, shared her views during a recent webinar, “Sports Talk: An Inside Look at the Business of Professional Football.”
Since 2013, she has served as an agent and general counsel for Roc Nation Sports, a division of the New York City entertainment agency founded by Jay-Z. Miale represents six NFL players including New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
When asked by moderator A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston about how the coronavirus has affected the NFL, Miale pointed out that the salary cap for next season—approximately $210 million pre-pandemic—could go as low as $175 million. The cap puts a limit on the amount of money a team can spend on salaries for players.
She added that, among other financial losses, players’ performance-based pay will be eliminated for the next three years.
“That’s a huge loss” said Miale. “The NFL, like other industries around the world, has been impacted (by COVID-19), but unfortunately, it’s usually the players that end up incurring most of the loss and the risk.”
What advice does she offer her clients in these challenging times? “I tell them not to make any big investments or purchases,” she said. “And to start saving because you don’t know what the future holds.”
Miale said no traditional training camp or pre-season has resulted in so many injured players. “Players went from 0 to 100 overnight and rookies were thrown into the fire,” she said.
One of the injured is Barkley, who suffered a torn ACL in the second game of the season and is likely out for the rest of the year.
Barkley was the number two overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the highest a player has ever been drafted while represented by a woman agent. Miale tries to look at her client’s devastating injury in a positive light.
“Saquon is such a resilient and hard-working person,” she said. “We are confident that he is going to come back better and stronger than ever.”
Suffolk Law has a special place in Miale’s heart, she says, both personally and professionally. It’s where she met her future husband, John Kelly JD ’04, and where a second year sports law class taught by Kristin Kuliga JD’94 set her on her path.
“That’s where the seed was planted for me to pursue this career,” said Miale. “I gained so much knowledge from her [Kuliga] and she inspired me to become a sports agent, which was my dream job.”
Kuliga was the first woman agent to represent a pro football player–Doug Flutie. Miale would absorb everything she could learn from her mentor in class and also worked as an intern at Kuliga’s company, K Sports & Entertainment LLC in Boston.
When asked what tips she has for women interested in entering the highly-competitive sports and entertainment field, Miale made her message clear.
“Be resilient and don’t spend so much time and energy worrying about the fact that the odds are against you getting there,” she said. “Put that time and energy towards just being the best agent, broadcaster, or whatever it is that you want to be.”
The event was presented by the Suffolk Summa Society.
Photo credit: Erik Drost