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.