Hall of Famer’s daughter finds success as first-year NFL agent
Alexa Stabler wasn’t born yet when her father, Hall of Fame quarterback Ken Stabler, was making Pro Bowls and winning the Super Bowl. But she was around to see what could happen to an athlete after they become famous, particularly one like her father who never met a stranger.
“There needs to be a barrier between them and the people who come around when the NFL is looming and they start to get success and name recognition,” she said. “I saw that happen my whole life, so I want to be that barrier between them and what happens when you have a career in professional football.”
Which is one of the reasons why the 31-year-old attorney decided to become an NFL agent.
Alexa took it very hard when her father died in 2015 at the age of 69. It’s hard enough when a parent dies, but when that parent is famous, family members have to deal with the added pressure of people they don’t know reaching out to talk about their memories.
In Ken Stabler’s case, there was added publicity. In early 2016, tests on Stabler’s brain found he had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, news that made national headlines. Later that year, Stabler was inducted, posthumously, into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“It was just a very crazy period,” Alexa said. “I was feeling a lot of emotion, anger and frustration that he had gone. And, I decided after a period of restlessness that this was the time to channel these emotions into something positive.”
So in the summer of 2017, Stabler, a partner in an intellectual property law firm she co-owns with her husband, decided to take the NFL Players Association test to become a certified agent. She passed, and less than a year later she is representing six players for the NFL draft in April.
Phil Savage, executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, said he was impressed with Stabler when he met her before this year’s Senior Bowl. She advocated for one of her clients, Florida State safety Nate Andrews, and made sure he was in town and available when another safety got injured, making him a late addition to the game.
“She has gotten into the business for the right reasons,” Savage said. “Seeing some of her dad’s post-career struggles, she is motivated to help these players on and off the field.”
The NFL agent business is hypercompetitive. Most agents are lucky to sign any players in their first year in the business, and if they do, they typically hope their clients can simply make an NFL practice squad as an unsigned free agent.
But two of Stabler’s clients, Alabama punter JK Scott and Jacksonville State running back Roc Thomas, were invited to the NFL combine. Three of her clients — Scott, Andrews and Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers — were invited to the Senior Bowl. Stabler also represents Troy running back Jordan Chunn, who played in the East-West Shrine Game, and Jacksonville State offensive lineman Justin Lea, who played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, as well as free agent running back Terrance Timmons.
Rob Rang, senior draft analyst with NFL Draft Scout, thinks Scott and Thomas will likely be drafted. “Scott is our No. 2 punter and could go fifth round or so, the highest of her guys,” Rang said.
Savage thinks Silvers also has a chance to be drafted. Of Stabler’s draft class, Savage said, “Those are nice picks for someone getting started, that is for sure.”
The best part of being an agent, Stabler said, is the relationships with her players. “I don’t have children of my own,” she said, “so I look on them as my kids, or my younger brothers.”
The biggest downside has been that agents are expected to pay for a player’s pre-draft training. “I invested a lot of my life savings in this,” she said. “It’s been a big risk, but I felt like now is the time and if I didn’t do it, I was going to ask myself, ‘What if?’”
Even though Stabler and her husband, Hunter Adams, have worked side by side in their intellectual property firm, AdamsIP in Mobile, Ala., the sports agent business is “all her,” Adams said. He thinks she’s done well getting started in representation primarily because she’s the opposite of the perception of the agent business.
“This is a harsh game,” Adams said. “There is a lot of negativity. That is the opposite of Alexa. She is very, very positive. She is extremely honest and up front. She’s not hiding the ball. I really just believe people have fallen for her sincerity.”
Of course, having the last name of an NFL legend doesn’t hurt — particularly being in Alabama and that legend won a national title playing for Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide.
But simply being from Alabama and being based there has been a plus, too. The state produces a lot of great football players, but surprisingly there are not a lot of NFL agents based in Alabama, said Stabler, who was born in Mobile and raised in Orange Beach before attending school in Tuscaloosa and is now working in Mobile.
The Stabler name and Alabama ties were definitely factors in signing Silvers, according to his mother, Rae Ann Silvers. The Troy quarterback also grew up in Orange Beach, and Rae Ann’s father was a coach at Foley High School in Foley, Ala., when Ken Stabler played football there. “I think that somebody that grew up in this area would understand someone else who could grow up in this area,” Silvers said.
But she noted that her son made the decision to hire Stabler as his agent. He thought she was smart and was willing to pay for his training when other agents weren’t. “He said, ‘They don’t believe in me, but she did,’” his mother said.
Silvers said that Stabler and her father are very different.
“He was a wild man,” she said. “I don’t see that in her.”
Ken Stabler, who played in the NFL from 1968 to 1984, is widely regarded as one of the wildest, most fun-loving players from what was a wild and fun-loving era.
“He never met a stranger,” Adams said, adding that almost everyone in Alabama has a Kenny Stabler story. “I’ve heard people say that they were out with Kenny for two nights before a game and he went in there and was drinking champagne on the way to the game and he won the game in the last second.”
While her father was larger than life, Alexa seems to have no ego. That has served her well as a lawyer, her husband said.
“She can get extremely aggressive at certain times when she has to be,” Adams said. “A lot of lawyers, you start getting them mad and they get emotional. Alexa, she will get aggressive and put her foot down, but she doesn’t scream and she doesn’t yell.”
As Savage, the Senior Bowl executive, said, “I felt she was a little bit shy and reserved — totally opposite of what you would think of Kenny.”
But in more important ways, Stabler and her father are identical, Silvers said.
“I think she is like her father when he was on the field,” she said. “He was super-focused.”