Drew Rosenhaus’ Cell Phone

Tuesday July 8th, 2014

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Agent Drew Rosenhaus is seemingly always on his cell phone—even if some of the calls aren’t quite organic. Take, for example, the 2003 draft, when cameras zoomed in on Rosenhaus sitting next to his client, projected first-rounder Willie McGahee. As the picks rolled on, McGahee appeared nervous. Then the halfback’s cell phone rang—turns out, Rosenhaus was on the other line. "I didn't want it to make it look like our phones weren't ringing," Rosenhaus told the AP afterward. "Willis and I had a little chat to create the perception that we weren't waiting for teams to call us." The Bills chose McGahee at No. 23.

Rosenhaus’ tactics are unconventional, and at times controversial, but he perfectly illustrates the breed of super agent that emerged in the NFL’s salary-cap era. In fact, agents like Rosenhaus have become so ubiquitous, it’s hard to imagine an NFL without them. (It did exist; Vince Lombardi famously frowned upon players who wanted to hire representation.)

Rosenhaus earned his accreditation at age 22, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated eight years later and accumulated a roster of A-list clients for whom he has negotiated more than $2 billion worth of contracts. He did so by working tirelessly, making countless calls to general managers, players and anyone in between to maximize potential earnings. (Rosenhaus titled his autobiography A Shark Never Sleeps.) SI’s 1996 cover story deemed Rosenhaus "the most hated man in the NFL”—his detractors include both rivals and former clients—though here’s something everyone might agree on: Listening in on his phone conversations would be priceless.

—Emily Kaplan

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