Jay Z lacks the educational credentials to ever be officially certified by the NFLPA to represent players in their contract talks. But Jay Z nevertheless believes he has the experience to qualify him to represent football players and other athletes.
The experience, of course, comes from engaging in an illegal enterprise.
“I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer,” Jay Z (a/k/a Shawn Carter) tells Vanity Fair. “To be in a drug deal, you need to know what you can spend, what you need to re-up. Or if you want to start some sort of barbershop or car wash — those were the businesses back then. Things you can get in easily to get out of [that] life.”
Some players will be drawn to that whiff of danger mixed with a helping of street cred. And Jay Z will do fairly well in the agent business if he merely attracts some of the thousands of pro athletes to hire him.
But understanding budgets and having a basic degree of resourcefulness doesn’t translate into the expertise necessary to dissect labor deals and salary caps and comparable contracts and all of the other nuances that come from giving players not just competent assistance but exceptional representation.
Plenty of skills transfer from one business to the next; plenty don’t. For Jay Z, the challenge will be to admit that he knows what he doesn’t know, and to rely on folks who can fill the gaps.