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Volume 21 No. 17
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Schulman guides long journey for Super Bowl MVP Foles

People had counted Nick Foles out so many times, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback had instructed his agents at Athletes First not to make any marketing or media deals prior to the Super Bowl.

Jimmy Fallon had called. “The Today Show” had called. Disney had called. They all wanted to get deals in place before the game just in case the Eagles won.

But Foles didn’t want to talk about any of that and instructed his agents, Justin Schulman, who has represented him since he was drafted in the third round by the Eagles in 2012, and Austin Lyman, his marketing agent, to say no to everything.

“Nick said he just wanted to focus on the game,” Schulman said last week.

Then, in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl when it looked like the Eagles would win and Foles — the backup quarterback who everybody counted out — might be named MVP, Disney called Schulman, who was sitting in the stands of U.S. Bank Stadium.

“So literally in the fourth quarter, I am on the phone with Disney trying to figure out if he will do it and I said, ‘I need to find him after the game,’” Schulman said.

After the Eagles won, Schulman rushed the field to find his client. “We saw each other and gave each other a hug and he looked at me and he’s like, ‘What just happened?’” Schulman said. “I said, ‘Do you want to go to Disney World?’”

Agent Justin Schulman has been with Nick Foles from the draft, through injuries, benchings and trades.
Photo: michele whites

Foles did go to Disney World, but it was a long journey for a guy many saw as an unlikely star of the Super Bowl.

Foles had been traded. He’d been injured. He’d been benched. And he was a perennial backup — to Michael Vick on the Eagles, Case Keenum on the Rams, Alex Smith on the Chiefs and Carson Wentz on the Eagles, again.

In June 2016, Foles told Schulman he was done with football. Schulman counseled him against it. “I told him, ‘Go out on your terms.’”

Despite his efforts, Schulman was so sure that Foles had ended his football career that he made a bet on it with Lyman, even though he kept trying to get Foles to change his mind. And that summer of 2016, when training camp started, Foles was without a deal and Schulman went on vacation with his family.

“You want to know the life of an agent?” Schulman said. “When he called me back and told me he had changed his mind, I was on my family vacation in Atlantis in the Bahamas. And I spent the next three days working on a deal with the Chiefs from the floor of my hotel bathroom at night — and during the day as well — on my vacation in August.”

That was a two-year deal, but in the summer of 2017 the Chiefs declined to pick up Foles’ option for the second year, making him a free agent. Schulman did another two-year deal, this time for $11 million with the Eagles, in the summer of 2017. It was a record deal then for a backup, but it’s certainly below market value for a Super Bowl MVP.

Schulman talked to SportsBusiness Journal the day after the Super Bowl, working on just one hour of sleep. Asked what will happen now with Foles’ final year of his Eagles deal at $5.5 million, Schulman replied that everyone wants to know that. “If there is something to be figured out, it will be figured out,” he said, “but right now, 24 hours after the Super Bowl, we are kind of still in shock.”

Schulman has been with Athletes First since 2002 and got certified by the NFL Players Association in 2004. He recruits and represents a few players each year. For this year’s NFL draft, Schulman is representing Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews and BYU linebacker Fred Warner. He also is co-representing Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown with Joe Panos and Texas punter Michael Dickson with Andrew Kessler.

Athletes First has signed a number of good players for the draft, headed up by UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen and Florida State safety Derwin James. The agency also has signed University of Texas at El Paso guard Will Hernandez, Arkansas center Frank Ragnow, Boise State wide receiver Cedrick Wilson and Washington State offensive lineman Cody O’Connell.

Agents Ryan Williams, David Mulugheta, Blaine Roche, Brian Murphy, Carmen Wallace, Kessler and Panos are representing the players. 

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.