SBJ/March 20 - 26, 2006/Forty Under 40

Todd France

TODD FRANCE
FRANCE ATHLETE MANAGEMENT ENTERPRISES INC.

By Liz Mullen
Staff writer

Todd France
Age: 34
Titles: President and CEO
Company: France Athlete Management Enterprises Inc. (FAME)
Education: B.A., advertising, University of Alabama, 1993
Family: Single
Career: Hired as account executive by Career Sports Management in 1994; eventually promoted to senior vice president; founded FAME in August 2003.
Last vacation: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in 2003
Last book read: The NFL collective-bargaining agreement
Last movie seen: “Baby Einstein” on DVD with my 2-year-old nephew and 1-year-old niece
Pet peeve: People who want results and success but aren’t willing to put forth the effort to achieve it
Greatest achievement: Owning my own company and the development of my career to this point
Fantasy job: NBA player
Executive most admired: My father. His work ethic, integrity and the success he has achieved is what I model myself after
Business advice: Consistent and continuous hard work, focus, integrity and dedication while believing in yourself is what will enable you to make the strides you desire.

Jerrold France, owner of Atlanta-based France Publications, wanted all of his three children to work for him at the company, the largest publisher of real estate publications in the United States.

Scott France, his oldest son, serves as executive vice president, and Stephanie France, his daughter, is creative director. Jerrold's middle child, though, had other plans.

"For as long as I can remember he wanted to be a sports agent," the elder France said. "I remember him stating that in high school. And when he got to college, I think he wanted to do it even more. It was his No. 1 career [choice] — to be a sports agent."

Well, technically, it was No. 2.

Todd France's ultimate career choice was to be on the other side of that relationship, as a professional athlete, ideally an NBA player. But reality hit in high school when France realized "that at 5-11, an athlete wasn't something I was going to do."

Unfortunately for NFL agents, France had a backup plan.

Today, the 34-year-old is one of the top agents in football, representing 25 NFL players, including Kansas City running back Priest Holmes and Buffalo Bills defenders Takeo Spikes and Nate Clements.

Last year, France represented three first-round NFL draft picks, including Ronnie Brown, the Auburn running back who was picked second overall by the Miami Dolphins. France also represented cornerback Carlos Rogers, selected ninth by the Washington Redskins, and No. 14 pick Thomas Davis, who was taken by the Carolina Panthers.

Of his nine NFL prospects for the 2006 draft, two are potential first-rounders, according to rankings by the Web site NFLDraftBlitz.com — Georgia tight end Leonard Pope, who is ranked 32nd, and Florida State linebacker Ernie Sims, who is ranked 35th.

France started in the sports business after graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in advertising. He worked for veteran agent Lonnie Cooper in Atlanta, who may be best known for representing basketball coaches and general managers.

France left Cooper's company, Career Sports Management, in 2003, taking the entire football practice of 17 players with him. Cooper sued France in Fulton County Superior Court, claiming France breached his duties to Career Sports, but the parties recently reached a confidential settlement.

France would not discuss his time at Career Sports nor the lawsuit, and Cooper would not comment for this story.

France said that since he started his own company, he has been approached about selling his practice to a larger agency, but talks about a potential sale have stalled. He's uncertain whether he'll sell it in the future, but he is certain about one thing: His desire to be an agent will never dwindle.

France's only regret, he says, is that having a 24/7 career in sports has kept him from having much of a social life, at least for now.

"Hopefully, I will be a football agent with a wife and kids," he said, looking down the road. "I just want to continue to build a successful clientele … whether it be 20 guys or 100."

Back to 2006 Forty Under 40 list.

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