There is no time off for sports agent Drew Rosenhaus, who negotiated over $300 million in contract deals this offseason.
With the NFL preseason kicking off in August, it’s part of a third decade in the business for a guy dubbed “The Most Hated Man in Pro Football” on the cover of the July 15, 1996, Sports Illustrated. Of course, with over $5 billion worth of contracts negotiated for several hundred superstars, Miami-based mega-agent Drew Rosenhaus could very well be the “most loved man in football” if you ask the players. Ocean Drive sat down with the man who inspired the movie Jerry Maguire to talk sports, Miami, and life in the spotlight.
How did you get your start in this business? I grew up a big football fan in Miami, and when I got to the University of Miami [in the mid- to late-’80s], I became pals with a lot of the guys on the team. One day, [wide receiver] Michael Irvin said to me, “Hey, you would be a great agent.” So I got an internship with his agent—Mel Levine in Fort Lauderdale. I knew right there and then that this was the perfect job for me.
Most agents would be located in New York or LA, but you’re a hometown boy in Miami. I love this area. I’ll never move. Thank God my wife is from Miami, so she never wants to leave. [The couple are expecting a baby girl in the fall, their first.] And I get to work with my brother and his family. Plus, the University of Miami has probably produced as many NFL players as any other program.
You’ve been videoed handling a live python in the wild, wrestling a six-foot shark in the ocean, and documented saving a child’s life via CPR. How does your personality match your job requirements? To be a successful agent, you’re really an alpha male. It’s a very macho, masculine profession. When you are around the toughest guys, the badasses of the world—absolute warriors—you have to relate to them. But at the same time, you have to be able to intellectually negotiate with the teams and owners. You have to do the research, you have to know the numbers, you have to know the roster, you have to know the personality of the people you are negotiating with. It’s a science.
“Miami is the number one destination for professional athletes; it’s such a beautiful place to live.” —Drew Rosenhaus
Miami has become an incredible sports town, with big-name players on the Heat, Dolphins, and Marlins. LeBron James made a statement that will forever be a part of Miami’s history when he said, “I’m bringing my talents to South Beach.” The most famous professional athlete in the United States basically said, “I want to play in South Beach.” The Miami Dolphins executive vice president, Mike Tannenbaum, started out his press conference a few months ago by saying, “Welcome to the tax-free state of Florida.” Miami is the number-one destination for professional athletes; it’s such a beautiful place to live.
You get attacked a lot in the media and online. What do you think of all the haters? I care, and it does bother me when people write things that aren’t true. I think it comes from angry competitors and/or people who are trying to better themselves or make a name for themselves by attacking a well-known figure. I accept that my job has some positives and negatives.
With a baby on the way, and the beautiful sunshine and the bay view you have, will you slow down? You’re either going up or you’re down. I don’t want to go down. I’m not ready to retire any time soon. I like the idea of being the NFL’s most prominent agent. The NFL is a remarkable profession; it was my love as a boy. I knew that if I wasn’t going to be an NFL player, then this is better because I’ve been able to have a 30-year career in the NFL. They’re going to have to throw me out of this business. I want to go from this job straight to my coffin.