And we back! *Chance The Rapper voice* After a way too long hiatus, I'm happy to welcome you back to the best Sports and Lifestyle blog in the world, Carter's Call and this welcome is well overdue! Typically, at this point in the call, I would articulate gratitude for your viewership and begin to introduce this topic. However, this time, I'd like to do something a little different....
Every year in Indianapolis, IN hundreds of NFL Athletes, Coaches, General Managers, Owners, Executives and Agents gather for 5 days of psychological, physical and emotional evaluations. These include interviews, written exams and a series of physical drills that have become quite the spectacle over the last decade. But the real spectacle in Indianapolis that weekend doesn't take place inside Lucas Oil Stadium, it takes place in the hotels and restaurants of downtown Indianapolis. Where dozens of NFL GM's, coaches, scouts, agents and personnel executives congregate to conduct business and share an adult beverage or two. Some have said its like 'Comic-Con' for a football fan. For an aspiring agent like myself, the NFL Combine its more like a goldmine of opportunity. All of these high level decision-makers in one place, power players and key influencers in one place!
Admittedly, I was initially unsure if I should take the trip (I know right?!). I was nervous and lacked confidence in my ability to navigate the weekend successfully. I had no clients participating in the combine, I had never been to Indianapolis, nor could I afford to stay in one of the downtown hotels. Despite those unfavorable circumstances, I decided to listen to the little voice in my head that kept saying, "whats the worse that could happen?" So, I found an affordable red eye flight, called up some family friends, that lived 20 Miles from downtown Indy and printed some business cards. Indy here I come!
Once I arrived, I quickly realized I'd made the right decision. Within the first 3 hours of my trip, I met some of my heroes in the athlete representation industry, an NFL GM, 2 Head Coaches and a Director at the NFL Players association (talk about starting fast). As the weekend progressed, I continued to meet people from all walks of the NFL life and quickly learned when and where all of the action was. By day, I maneuvered between the hospitality suites of the biggest athletic brands. By night, I frequented the bars of the some of the best steakhouses in all of Indiana. By the end of the weekend, I had accomplished more than I could've dreamed of. Though not every interaction went smoothly, or led to a meaningful connection, I was in the room. And in many cases, that's more than half the battle.
I left Indianapolis that Sunday evening feeling inspired and motivated. I learned a lot about the NFL community but even more about myself. I learned that some of those agents, GM's and head coaches are much more like me than I realized, I learned that St. Elmo's has the spiciest cocktail sauce in the country and more importantly I learned that I belonged and have something unique to offer. Maybe next time I won't forget how to talk when John Elway asks me what my name is.
Until next time.
Christian A. Carter