Rookie Agent Has High Expectations
Written By: Steve Amedio
Schenectady Gazette May 17, 2007
Amsterdam native Josh Beekman sat through 11 hours of
the first day of the NFL draft last month with family
members, friends and other supporters from the community
at a local restaurant, taking up a good portion of a
couch set up for him in front of a big-screen TV.
Squeezed in next to the 6-foot-1, 320-pound former
Boston College offensive lineman for the full 11 hours
was his second cousin, Calvin Robinson.
Robinson was there for reasons beyond providing familial
fact, his presence, at Beekman's side through not only
the draft's first day, when the 2002 Amsterdam High
graduate went unpicked, but also the next day, when
Beekman was finally selected in the fourth round by the
Chicago Bears, is symbolic of their current
29-year old Robinson, a native of Gloversville who
graduated from Union College, has been spending a lot of
time at Beekman's side, and will continue to do so in
Robinson, a two-sport standout in high school and a
basketball player at Union, is Beekman’s agent, and he
hopes he is on his way to making a living full-time
representing professional athletes.
Robinson helped create and is one of two agents working
for the Empire Sports Agency, a Florida based group in
its first year of operation. The other agent is former
Middle Tennessee football coach Richard Burnoski.
plan initially was to start my own company, but I met
Rich, and we decided to join to try to build our own
powerhouse agency," said Robinson.
got a business model and a five-year plan that we'll try
to follow to get this going. It's something I want to do
on a full-time basis."
group represents five NFL players, including Beekman and
Gloversville native Marc Hickok, a kicker who is on the
New York Giants' roster.
Robinson, who did his graduate work at Florida State's
College of Law, is employed by Rosenthal & Levy, a West
Palm Beach, Fla., law firm that specializes in workers'
compensation, employment law and personal injury claims.
becoming a sports agent would combine my two loves, law
and sports," he said.
always been a fan and a participant in sports. When I
realized I wasn't capable of becoming a pro athlete
myself, I realized that I could stay close to sports by
at Florida State, Robinson worked as an intern in the
Seminoles' basketball program, an assistant to the
program's director of operations.
I was there, I got to know a lot of the school's
football players, and they knew I was in law school and
interested in sports," said Robinson. "Some of them came
to me with an interest in having me rep resent them, but
at the time, I wanted to make sure I not only finished
law school, but that I had enough knowledge that I'd be
able to represent athletes properly."
Robinson began moving in that direction in 2005 when he
applied to be certified by the NFL's Players
Association, to represent football players. He is one of
about 3,500 agents certified by the NFL group.
first athletes Robinson is representing are Beekman and
from the Fulton-Montgomery area, those are guys I had
established relations with," said Robinson, who
graduated from Gloversville High School with Hickok's
difficult as a first-year agent, and it's a very
cutthroat business. People tell our players that they
don't want to be with a first-year agent, that we might
ruin their careers. That's the stuff all the players
hear." But it doesn't hurt to have a relationship. It
comes down to trust and relationships. People who know
me know that I'm knowledgeable and trustworthy, and that
I won't steer them the wrong way." Others agents can say
they've negotiated contracts before and are from the
bigger agencies. But if you're not one of their
first-round guys, if you're not a first-round money guy,
you can get placed on the back burner.
guys I'm representing know I'm devoting everything to
said those traits made Robinson attractive when he was
looking for an agent.
an agent who went out of business, and I was searching
for someone else," said Hickok. "Out of the blue, I got
called by Cal, liked what I heard and signed with him.
has helped me tremendously. He's one of those
go-getters, the type of guy you want working for you.
I'm an underdog myself, and I wasn't hesitant about
signing with a guy who's in a similar situation."
Through Robinson, Hickok's resume and highlight tapes
were distributed to NFL administrators. He was invited
to an open tryout camp for potential NFL Europe players,
and while he was there, drew the attention of Giants
recently participated in the team's mini-camp, and is
one of two kickers on the Giants' roster.
Beekman, though, became the first athlete Robinson
represents that was drafted.
made me feel like a million dollars," said Robinson,
about Beekman's selection by the Bears. "To be with him
nearly every day for the last four or five months, and
then see him have this great opportunity. It's very
Robinson's prior personal relationship with Beekman,
though, only went so far when it came time for the
family to choose an agent.
had a formal process in which nine or 10 agents they
were considering went to Boston to be asked questions by
Josh and his family," said Robinson. "After that, they
reduced the field to three or four. I sat down with
them, and went through what I wanted to do with Josh.
final decision was to go with us."
then, Beekman went with Robinson.
brought him to Florida to train for the NFL combine and
the Senior Bowl game. As his agent, I contacted his
Boston College professors, and assured them he could do
online classes or would fly back and forth to Boston to
attend classes while working toward his Master's degree.
all his travel arrangements, and also made sure he was
getting the proper physical training, as well."
Robinson said the next step is to negotiate Beekman's
first contract with the Bears.
"Although the draft spots are pretty much slotted
[financially], there are other incentives we'll look at
to potentially escalate his salary," said Robinson.
who represent NFL players receive about 3 percent of a
Robinson will also be involved in developing off-field
opportunities for Beekman. Agents receive between 15 and
25 percent of the financial payout players receive for
you've have a top-10 guy at a key position, there's a
lot more money available in those areas, but there's
still money out there for Josh," said Robinson. "We just
finalized a deal for him to endorse Reebok products. I'm
sure there are upstate New York car dealerships and
restaurants that might want to get involved with him.
are also opportunities for appearances at sports stores
and things like that. Plus, he wants to do some
charitable things. He wants to give back to the
community. I'm sure he'll come back home, at some point,
and do a football camp.
the guy who gets the ball rolling on all of those
things. It lets him just focus on football."
essence, sports agents handle all the peripheral
aspects, allowing athletes to concentrate almost solely
on their on-field endeavors.
of times, guys in this business tell you the job is
glorified babysitting because some athletes aren't used
to having that much money and success right off the
bat," added Robinson.
fortunate, so far, to have guys like Josh and Marc who
are just great to work with. I'm just delighted with how
everything is going in my first year in the business."
he's far from satisfied.
we first started out, we thought we'd call ourselves
Florida Sports Management, " he said. "Then, we
considered Esquire Sports. But as we talked, we realized
that we're trying to build an empire, of sorts, so we
took that name, the Empire Sports Agency."
And now, Robinson hopes his firm will
grow from its fledgling status into one that attracts
clientele and does work befitting a company by that