SBJ/July 31-August 6, 2017/Labor and Agents

For NFL agent, the speech of a lifetime

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Neil Schwartz with Terrell Davis in February when Davis learned he would enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Courtesy of: NEIL SCHWARTZ
It was 5 in the morning in 1995 and young NFL agent Neil Schwartz and running back Terrell Davis were sitting in a diner. They had been talking since 10 o’clock the previous night.

“Right before we left the diner, I looked at him and I said, ‘When you get enshrined in the Hall of Fame, when you get inducted in the Hall of Fame, I would like to make the presentation speech,” Schwartz recalled he told Davis, who was preparing for the NFL draft.

Davis last week also recounted that moment 22 years ago. He said he was surprised when Schwartz asked him, but that he said yes. “In my eye, he was showing confidence in me and at that point no one really had confidence in me,” Davis said. “Certainly they didn’t express it in that way.”

The Denver Broncos took Davis in the sixth round, and he went on to become the club’s all-time leading rusher, a two-time Super Bowl champion, a Super Bowl MVP and an NFL Most Valuable Player.

Schwartz will present Davis when he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Canton, Ohio. He will be only the fifth agent to present his client at the induction ceremony.

“If you could look at a career in representing athletes and you could look at what could possibly be the high point, I can list it for you,” said Leigh Steinberg, who introduced client Warren Moon in 2006. “You could have the No. 1 pick in the draft. That’s pretty stunning. You could have a winning quarterback in the Super Bowl. That’s another stunning situation for your client and the opportunities and the thrill and all of that.

“But the Hall of Fame is the fruition of every dream that an NFL player had since he played Pop Warner. And all of those years of youth football, high school, college, pros — he’s been anointed among the cherished few.”

Schwartz, Davis after Davis’ Super Bowl MVP win.
Courtesy of: NEIL SCHWARTZ
Again, after the Super Bowl.
Courtesy of: NEIL SCHWARTZ
Being a presenter for a Hall of Fame inductee is a big deal and involves more than giving a speech. There are lunches and dinners and parties and other events that the inductee and presenter attend together during the week leading up to the ceremony. Inductees often invite more than 100 people, including family and friends from their childhood through their post-playing days.

Davis said he is arriving Tuesday and leaving Sunday night. He has 400 tickets to the ceremony, and he believes he is inviting at least 270 to the event, but he was not sure of the exact numbers — his wife is in charge of the list.

Inductees can choose anyone to present them at the ceremony and over the years have chosen family members, friends and mentors, including NFL owners. Those include late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, who was a presenter nine times, more than any other individual.

Davis said that when he got the knock on his hotel room door from Hall of Fame President David Baker in February, letting him know he had been voted in, he remembered the late-night diner conversation.

Schwartz, who was there with him, was “the first person I thought about,” Davis said. “I thought about the conversation we had. I said, ‘Will you be my presenter?’ It was kind of me honoring that promise that I made.”


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