Boardroom chats with the VP of Client Services and football agent with Caric Sports who represents a cast of NFL players including Zach Ertz and Dalton Schultz.
It was around the time of Molly McManimie’s sophomore year at Cal State Long Beach when she knew she wanted to become a sports agent — but making the decision to do so was an easy one.
Then came the hard part.
Having already known she wanted to go to law school, McManimie began her journey toward joining an NFL agency by obtaining her bachelor’s degree. But as she continued down this path and found herself attending law classes at Chapman University, some doubt began to creep in on the practicality of becoming a full-on sports agent.
“I started focusing more on public interest stuff. My internships were all in more of the public sector, non-profit type work,” McManimie told Boardroom.
It wasn’t until Steve Caric, the President of Caric Sports, reached out to the ascendant talent about potentially growing an upstart sports agency with him. At the time, it was a one-man shop, McManimie said, and Caric knew he wanted someone like McManimie to help lead the charge into the future. With a year of law school left, McManimie began doing project work for Caric Sports remotely as she finished up. Once graduated, she made the trek out to Las Vegas, where she currently resides and works for Caric Sports as an NFL agent and the organization’s Vice President of Client Services.
McManimie and Caric Sports now boast an impressive roster of clients, including the Cardinals’ Zach Ertz, Dalton Schultz of the Cowboys, Austin Hooper of the Titans, and the Bengals’ Logan Wilson. As Molly and Co. continue to make waves in the NFL sports agency space, that list will only grow.
As a rising star in the industry, Boardroom chatted with McManimie about life as an NFL sports agent, the future of the industry, what’s next in 2023, and much more.
GRIFFIN ADAMS: What’s your synopsis of how you got to where you are today?
MOLLY McMANIMIE: From 2015 to 2017, my primary capacity was client services manager. I just got to really dive into all client services work. Everything from day-to-day stuff, helping them with travel and just like managing their lives to marketing deals. So, Julie Ertz had just won her first World Cup and she had just hired us, so I was in charge of a lot of her marketing. I started working with Zach (Ertz) and Kiko Alonso and all these players that were pretty successful in the NFL already, and it really gave me what I call a head start in being an actual agent.
So, in 2017, I took the exam and passed it, so I actually became an agent in 2017. I think it was in 2018 or 2019 [that] I got promoted to Vice President of Client Services. As the company grew with clients, I got even more involved. Now, I’m kind of the go-to person if you guys need stuff outside of football contracts and injuries, I’m kind of the person they know to reach out to. So, I’ve been at the company for eight years now and I’ve been an agent for five and a half.
GA: What’s your secret to maintaining good relationships with your clients, their families/friends, etc.?
MM: I don’t know if it’s a secret more than just doing what you say you’re gonna do and just being intentional and being present. I think being present is something that is so simple, but when you just check in with people or you’re at the games or in the offseason, you make it a point to see them.
And then just keeping the families involved. Every family’s different. There are some parents and there are some significant others and some siblings — whoever else is involved — but they just don’t really need much, and they’ll tell you that. So, you’re not communicating with them as much, but there are other people who I talk to their mom all the time, or I talk to their wife more than I talk to them because they’re the kind of the person that’s running a lot of the things in their household and their travel and their schedule and stuff.
So, every person’s different. It’s just about getting to know that client uniquely and what they need, and then what they — the people that are important to them — need. And then just being present and doing what you say you’re gonna do.
GA: What characteristics do you look for in a client?
MM: We’re very high on character. We look for guys that love football, who are leaders in the locker room, who work hard, who are willing to hear the truth. We’re not “yes men” at our company, so we tell guys the honest truth about what they need to hear and what they need to get better at, and what their coaches are saying because that’s the only way they could actually get better. Guys who can’t hear the truth usually don’t fit with us because we’re not gonna be yes men.
High-character guys who are out in their communities, who are just good people. This job can be really hard and it can be really taxing and you make a lot of sacrifices. Doing it for good people just makes it a lot easier and a lot more rewarding.
GA: You have a good number of tight ends on your roster. Is that something you sought out or is it purely coincidental?
MM: If you look at any agency, you’ll probably see some themes, whether it’s schools, positions, areas they’re from. It’s just kind of how this business works. A lot of it is word of mouth and referrals. We only recruit based on referrals, so that is a current client, former client, coaches, scouts, people that we trust — we only recruit people that someone else has told us, like, this is a guy you should go after. So, when it comes to tight ends, we also have a lot of Stanford clients. We have a few Purdue clients now. Those pipelines start to form naturally. It’s not like we intentionally did that, but when you do a good job for one guy, then he tells the next guy. It just kind of starts to happen naturally.
And you have to play to your strengths in this business. If you have a good relationship with clients from a certain school, you’re gonna continue to tap into that because these guys really trust their former and current teammates. And that’s where you can get ahead of your competition.
GA: What are your thoughts on the future of sports representation as an industry?
MM: I think that it’s always changing, and it always has been. A lot of people think it’s gonna change so much in the coming years, and it will, but it always has. One thing you have to do in this business is be willing to adapt, to change. If you’re not willing to adapt, you’re gonna get left behind.
I think that one of the major things that we’re seeing right now is companies acquiring others. I think in 10 years, there’s gonna be like five to 10 very large agencies that pretty much represent everybody. You’re not gonna see as many small boutique agencies or agencies that intentionally remain small. It’s gonna be everyone’s buying everyone. So, if you’re not kind of willing to get on board with that, that’s gonna be a challenge.
Obviously, with NIL, marketing is kind of at the forefront. I think agencies are gonna have to really have a big presence in the marketing sense. A lot of guys source out their marketing and they have someone do their marketing exclusively, and then they have their agent do their football stuff. I think just in general, that’s a really important thing for guys. Every agency is gonna have to address that in some way.
GA: As an NFL agent, how does the name, image, and likeness landscape in amateur sports play a role in your day-to-day?
MM: It’s one of those things that you have to address, and if you don’t wanna adapt to it, you’re gonna get left behind. I have NIL clients, and I don’t go out and seek them, but if people come to me, they want me to help somebody that they know and trust. In that space, I’ve been doing it. There aren’t a lot of people that have the experience that us agents do because we’ve been doing these marketing deals for years, and there’s a lot of people popping up that have no experience and call themselves NIL agents, and then these guys are getting screwed because they don’t know how to actually negotiate or redline and really come up with a good contract.
So, I think that agents are in a position to actually do the best work for these guys because we’ve had the experience. I’ve negotiated deals with huge companies, and I’ve worked with huge companies and I’ve done national commercials. I’ve done six-figure, seven-figure deals. And that’s something that only certain caliber, even NFL clients get to, let alone NIL clients, so when it comes to the deals that most of these NIL guys are getting, it’s kind of just like run-of-the-mill for me. I’ve done it so much that I know I can do a good job and it doesn’t take me a ton of time.
I also know where to put my foot down. I’ve literally told a guy that he shouldn’t do a deal that was worth five figures — and as a college kid, that’s a lot — but the company wanted perpetual rights to use the media that they created for the rest of his life. Before he is even drafted! So, he doesn’t even know what his value’s gonna be in five years or even in a year; because I’m more experienced in [this space], I have the skill more than a lot of these people that are really just only doing NIL because, unless you’ve been working for professional athletes for the last decade, there’s really no other way you could have obtained the knowledge you need to really do a good job for these guys.
GA: Unfortunately, I think a lot of young athletes are finding that out the hard way.
MM: That’s what makes me sad. I wish schools would reach out to those of us who have done it, and some are, some have started to, but I wish they just would. There’s this stigma that agents are bad and dirty and slimy, and so they don’t wanna let us come in and talk to their students. But we’re the ones, like I said, that actually have had the athletes’ back the last 50 years when these deals started. Whether it’s social media or commercials or something else, it’s all the same in the sense that you are giving up rights for a certain amount of money, basically. If someone doesn’t know what they’re doing in that area, it wrapped into a deal that increases your value once you make it to the league, and that’s not a fun place to be at.
GA: What companies have you been able to work with over the years?
MM: I just did a deal for Julie (Ertz) with LaCroix. I’ve worked with Verizon, Sleep Number, United, Chipotle — I did Chipotle for years. Zach and Julie alone have given me a lot of cool opportunities. Just because for a good amount of time, they were at the top of their game, both respectively. We got to do a lot of cool stuff. They both had deals with Muscle Milk — I worked with Muscle Milk a lot, who’s now owned by Pepsi. There was Visa — we did a national commercial with Zach and Julie for Visa at the same time they had their Muscle Milk commercial.
So, I’ve gotten into a lot of cool stuff. Yeah, I actually really enjoy that area of my job a lot just because I get a lot of joy when I know that what I negotiated. Not just money; I think a lot of people think of money, but when my knowledge and my experience and then obviously my work that goes into that unique contract, I love when that actually brings value to someone’s life and I can make them feel good and safe about whatever deals that they’re going into.
GA: What advice would you give to others who are looking to go down a similar career path as you have?
MM: I would say figure out what you actually enjoy doing and figure out what is it at. A lot of people want to work in sports and they want certain positions in sports, whether it’s an agent or something else, because they like the title of it and they like the sound of it and they want the perks that come with it. But you’re gonna be miserable if you don’t figure out what actually makes you happy and brings you joy. Like I was just talking about, I get a lot of joy in negotiating those contracts because I know it brings value. There are a lot of people in the world that would think that’s the most boring thing in the world.
But all they see is, oh, that must be cool to be on that commercial shoot with Zach and Julie Ertz. That’s such a small part of it, and honestly, they’re fine without me. I go to that, yes, and I bring some value there, but the work that I do that’s actually valuable is everything that leads up to that from in-office, and it’s not flashy and shiny. But I get joy out of it, so it’s like figuring out what brings you joy, where you can bring value, and then figuring out what that means. So, if that means you’re better off working in the community relations department for the NFL, or you’re better off working in social media for a team or something, it’s okay to pivot and say, “This is what I actually think I would enjoy doing,” rather than forcing your way through an industry or into a job that you won’t actually be happy doing.
GA: What are you most excited about for 2023?
MM: For me personally, every year just gets more exciting because I feel like I come into my own more and I get more and more confident. The more experience I get and the more I do this job, the more excited I get about selling myself and the more excited I get about pursuing new clients and new opportunities because I know that I’m good at what I do and I know that I bring value. I think men can say that and people will be like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s fine,’ but a lot of times, when us women say that, it comes off as conceited or cocky or we’re too into ourselves. But I’m just learning to lean into that more. I know I’m an expert in marketing and in the contract space, and I am gonna continue to position myself as that because I know I’ve done the work and I know I have the experience. I just get more excited every year because I just feel more like myself and more confident every year.
For the company, we’re just growing so much. We have a lot of like exciting free agents right now that I’m excited to see where they land in the next couple of weeks. We have a fun draft class. I’m excited to see where they land, and then just another year of doing what we do. I’m grateful every day when I wake up and this is my job.
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