Some provide gifts that cause athletes to lose their amateur standing. Others provide bad advice that cause athletes to renounce their collegiate eligibility in favor of pipe-dream pro careers.
Not all agents exploit their clients, of course. Some actually protect them ... former Tennessee football player Tommy Sims of Allegiant Athletic Agency, for instance.
Sims, who started at cornerback for the Vols in 1983, '84 and '85, has been representing athletes for nearly a dozen years. He feels his calling is helping young people get a fair shake as they pursue their pro dreams.
|Offensive lineman Anthony Herrera is one of several former Volunteers represented by Sims' firm.|
Although Sims' cut rises when a client's salary rises, he seems determined to build character and not just bank accounts.
"It's rewarding to see them make the NFL but also to be productive citizens away from the field, get their degrees," he said. "We try to make sure they recognize that pro football is a small fraternity and a once-in-a-lifetime chance."
Conceding that his job is "an interesting business," Sims has accumulated an imposing array of clients.
"I've been an NFL-certified agent going on 12 years now," he said. "Right now I'm executive vice-president of football operations for a3 Athletics, located here in Knoxville. We represent (ex-Vols) Eric Berry, Denarius Moore, Albert Haynesworth and Chris Scott."
Sims' clientele isn't restricted to former Volunteers, however.
Being a man of morals, Sims flinches when he sees how some members of his profession mislead gullible athletes for personal gain.
"It's a tough business," he said. "It's very competitive but it's my passion due to my background. I get a chance to do a little ministry to some of the young men. Sometimes their fathers aren't around, so we try to mentor them in the right way and give them the best guidance we can during their professional careers."