Friday, June 26, 2009

Super Agent Albert Elias

Sports agents get a bad rap sometimes, but I like the way that Monroe native Albert Elias handles his business. He tends to represent good character guys, which is smart if you think about it. Teams are more likely to take care of talented athletes who keep their nose clean. I know several of his clients and all fit a similar profile. I profiled Elias a couple of years ago, noting his string of clients who participated in the Super Bowl.

With his solid huddle of upstanding, blue-collar clients, sports agent Albert Elias isn’t a glamour seeker like some of his peers.
But this time of year -- at least in recent NFL seasons -- the Monroe native can be called a “super agent.”
Three players represented by the St. Frederick product – defensive end Jarvis Green, cornerback Randall Gay and Eric Alexander -- will play for the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday. In fact, at least one of Elias’ clients has participated in four of the last six NFL finales. Last year it was former ULM star Chris Harris, with the Chicago Bears.
“Agents don’t get any extra money from it – nothing extra like that,” Elias said of his Super Bowl connection. “But the reason I’m an agent, the most important thing for me, is to see my client succeed.”
And what’s bigger than the Super Bowl?
“I know that 20 years from now, my guys will be able to help themselves by going to corporations and speaking and showing off their ring because of this process and the amazing season that they’ve had. I know that,” Elias said. “They don’t know that, because they’re caught up in the moment. But that’s something I can help them with when they’re done with football. That’s a feeling that makes it special.”
A former LSU student who graduated from Loyola University Law School in 1996, Elias has carved out a solid niche for himself as an agent over the past seven years. In addition to the aforementioned Patriots, he also negotiates for Harris, who plays for the Panthers, and ULM product Kevin Payne, now with the Bears. Ruston product Kyle Williams, a starter with the Buffalo Bills, is an Elias client. And he recently added NFL veteran Mark Roman, another LSU product, to the list of 12 active players that he represents.
“It’s not work for me,” Elias said. “They’ll call me at midnight sometimes, asking weird things they’d never ask another agent for. But they do it because they know I’ll take care of it. It’s like taking care of my little brothers. It’s fun.”
The Elias clan has deep business roots in Monroe – Elias’, a shoe and clothing store on Louisville Avenue is owned by his family.
He began his career in business at a consulting firm in Dallas, and the next three years he spent there helped him hone the negotiating skills he utilizes as an agent.
Elias, who owns Dallas-based EMG (Elias Management), has spent plenty of time working with the Patriots. The franchise emerged as modern dynasty during the same time frame that Elias has moved up in his profession.
“I’m a fan of the way they do business, and the way they treat their guys,” Elias said. “Coach Belichick treats the players like men and educates them – not just to be football players, but to be good people.”
Elias said the Patriots -- especially his guys -- have been motivated this season by the death of former LSU defensive lineman Marquise Hill. Elias also represented Hill, who drowned in Lake Ponchatrain in last year.
“Randall was Marquise’s roommate on the road,” Elias said. “Jarvis was Marquise’s mentor. In a weird and kind of friendly way, they were competitors. Now Jarvis wears Marquise’s shoulder pads in every game.”
Elias said Hill’s death has affected him too. He said they have remained close to Hill’s mother, fiancĂ©e’ and son.
“I think about him all the time,” Elias said. “He was such a dear friend to me. Marquise always wanted the people he loved in his life to be successful. He always put them first.”
Although Hill was a second-round draft selection in 2004, most of Elias’ clients are mid-to-late round picks. Green was a fourth-round pick in 2002, while Gay and Alexander entered the league as undrafted rookie free agents in 2004.
“My guys are genuine, humble, moral guys,” Elias said. “That’s what we go after. First you’ve got to be a good football player to make it in the NFL. But you’ve also got to be able to handle the pressures of the league. You’ve go to be humble, genuine and grounded. That’s why my guys are successful, whether they’re drafted or not.”
Elias said there’s a certain satisfaction that comes from being associated with players who overcome low expectations to enjoy productive careers in the NFL.
“You know what the odds are of making a roster as an undrafted free agent?” he said. “Much less being a part of a success like that. Randall will be a free agent after this year, and now he’s ranked as one of the top two or three corners who will hit the market.”
This is the third Super Bowl for Green and the second for Gay and Alexander. Elias said that he’ll attend the big game in Arizona, just as he always does when his clients are involved.
“This doesn’t get old for them,” Elias said. “What they’re experiencing this year is just amazing. I think they understand it, but they’ve got a job to do. They are the show in the whole country this week.”
And of course, the big show makes a nice platform for those players to boost their individual stock too. The agent in Elias wants them to seize that opportunity.
“Every team is watching,” Elias said. “Every team wants to be the New England Patriots. Every team wants their players. Every team wants to copycat them.
“What better exposure for a client trying to build his name -- and an agent to be able to build his client’s earning capacity -- than to be one of the players in that game.”

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