Photo: CampusGossip.com Screengrab
Thanks to a five-minute golf cart ride in November, 22-year-old USC senior Teague Egan finally got the national publicity he’d long been seeking.
Even though Egan headed one of those campus promotion “companies” ubiquitous across America’s universities, and represented a surprisingly successful white rapper – Sam Adams, who he met through a friend during a summer on Nantucket’s beaches – he had failed to gain recognition for the hard work that went into building his company, 1st Round Enterprises. Had he known all along that he merely needed to give a Trojan football player a ride to class, he might have done it much sooner.
That golf cart ride earned him an L.A. Times headline because in addition to his other projects, Egan was a certified NFL player agent. Therefore, the ride technically qualified as an “impermissible benefit,” and the beneficiary, USC tailback Dillon Baxter, was suspended for a game.
“I couldn’t have paid for that publicity even if I wanted to,” Egan told me. “It was probably the best thing that’s happened to 1st Round to this point.” Better than Sam Adams’ debut album hitting the top spot on iTunes’ hip-hop chart. And better than being able to build a profitable company – largely on the back of Sam Adams – that financially supports he and his closest friends, all of whom have titles within 1st Round. “If I wanted, I could have 100 interns working for me for free this entire summer [because of those headlines].” Yep, 100 Jerry Maguire wannabes.
When I call Egan to find out what he has next up his sleeve, he answers the phone “Dude, Adam, what’s going on man?”
Moving on from sports representation
But for someone who sounds like a cross between James Franco’s character in Pineapple Express and a Southern California surfer who was just awoken from his afternoon nap on the beach, Teague Egan is wildly ambitious.
For now, his name is recognised primarily in USC circles. He’s a senior at the school and lives in a mansion that laughs at your idea of the struggling college kid’s shabby dorm room. His place was featured on an episode of “College Cribs” (that left many calling him a derogatory term best left off this site), and he cruises around campus in a golf cart – “1st Round, ridin’ on 12s” he jokes in the video – with his company’s logo plastered on the side.
Despite many of his football friends finally becoming eligible for next month’s NFL Draft, 1st Round doesn’t represent any athletes. Egan had his certification revoked under the “extraordinary circumstance” clause. “There have only been 5 people in the history of the NFLPA that got their licence revoked like I did, on the extraordinary circumstance clause,” according to Egan. “All five of those people had 10, 20, 40 clients and they had stolen millions of dollars… and ended up getting sentenced to jail.” Egan got similar treatment without ever having a client to his name.
He’s appealed the decision and believes he’ll get his agent licence back once he graduates. Not that it really matters to him. While most would be thrilled to take three per cent commissions on multi-million dollar contracts top USC players earn in their first professional contracts, to Egan it’s “small game.” Plus, like the former agent who came clean to Sports Illustrated in October, Egan told me “It’s impossible to play by the rules in the agency game and that’s the reason I don’t want to be in it at all.”
Instead, Teague Egan wants to build the next Nike. And he wants to start now.
This is the part of the story where Egan begins again to sound like the delusional kid on College Cribs calling his keg-erator and his freezer stocked with Grey Goose “crucial.” You want to tell him that with college graduation looming, it’s time to think a little more practically if he wants to maintain his extravagant lifestyle. You want to tell him that it’s time to think about pursuing something singular – even as far-fetched as music or athlete representation – rather than continuing down his scattershot path.
A master self-promoter Except that to this point Egan has already made the far-fetched seem easily attainable. Perhaps the impossible is feasible. It’s a testament to his ability to sell himself. Egan believes so strongly in himself and his vision, and talks about it so passionately, that it’s hard not to get caught up and start beleiving in him, too.
By combining his ability to build relationships with his sudden name recognition, Egan has made good on his word and built his business in unforeseen directions. In December, Aaron Kaplan, the former head of William Morris’ television division, approached Egan about developing a series on college entrepreneurs. Egan describes it as a show that will be one part HBO’s Entourage, one part HBO’s How To Make It In America, and one part The Social Network. The project is under the 1st Round Pictures division of his company, and he hopes it will get picked up by HBO. “It could supersede everything we’ve done to this point.”
In January, his notoriety helped him to meet, and eventually invest in a clothing line started by two former USC football players called UNCL (pronounced “uncle”). With his help the company has taken off, and he told me he’s been contacted by Manchester United, FC Barcelona, and Chivas USA among others, to licence the clothing. NFLers including Terrell Ownes and Troy Polamalu have also been spotted in the company’s loungewear, wth it’s distinctive scripted-U logo. He aspires to get the clothing line on to Nordstrom’s racks.
Most recently, an architect from the huge sports architecture firm Populous reached out to Egan after reading the LA Times story and discovering his interest in design. “Now,” Egan said, “his firm might do a lot of the designs for the athletic apparel company that we’re trying to start.” With a designer in tow, and Egan’s ability to convert sceptics, who knows? Maybe Egan can actually pull this off.
All along Egan wanted 1st Round Sports to be “the next Nike or Under Armour,” but with the immediate opportunity for sports representation in front of him as a student at USC (powerhouse NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus famously got his start hanging around the University of Miami campus) he decided to follow the lead presented to him.
“I seize opportunities when they’re infront of me,” he explained. “That was an opportunity that was right in front of my face at the time, and I [absolutely] went after it.” Of course, as any successful entrepreneur will tell you, that’s half the battle. But now that he’s launched exploratory talks to achieve the end game of starting an apparel line, he’s given himself the opportunity to daydream. He envisions his 1st Round apparel, it’s winged logo, and it’s “Go Higher” slogan the way Phil Knight must have envisioned Nike’s patented Swoosh and “Just Do It” campaign some 40-odd years ago. Egan knows he has a long way to go, but he already talks excitedly about his prospects. It’s consistent with his motto, he said, which is “Ready. Shoot. And then Aim.”Sure, it’s unconventional, but no more so than his rise to fame. After all, it’s not every day someone makes a name for themself by riding a golf cart.
But his time as the first student-agent in NFLPA history didn't last long…he got his licence revoked.
By the way, he likes the idea of a rookie wage scale, which is a good indication of how serious he is about sports representation (not very)
Instead, he thinks he has a shot to expand his influence in the music industry and land an HBO pilot.
Ok aside from this alleged magic, what do you attribute to your success? Is it the connections, obviously it takes hard work, but what do you attribute to be able to do so much before you've even graduated college.
First of all hard work, hard work, and dreaming big, and aspirations trump all. It's also a lot of networking I think, obviously a lot of people try to connect, but it's having an actual product or substance to making people believe in you. Even if I don't have something where I can go to business with them right now like I do with the Jimmy Iovines and the Troy Carters, there are extremely successful people that you try to build relationships with because you never know when down the road that opportunity might come back.
You're thinking so large, I want to go back to my original line of questioning. If I talk to you in a year from now do you think you will have football clients?
Of course I'm going to say yes, just because I believe in myself. You know I thought that I guess 4-5 months ago, I thought I'd be representing 4-6 football clients, but obviously that didn't work out. Instead, which couldn't have known in the past, of representing football players, I'm devoting my attention to getting my clothing line into Nordstrom's.
Exactly. So will you devote enough attention to be in the headlines no for golf carts, but instead representing players?
Representing players, you know, I'm just like, at this point, turned off by it.
Because of the last six months?
Yeah -- I'll say this: by this time next year I'll have our athletic apparel line on clients in every single major sport.
Wow. That's definitely dreaming big.
Well representation is small game, man. In my view from the very beginning it was a way into the industry, just because the first thing I could do with the snap of a finger. But getting 3 per cent of a contract, is just like, it's not what I strive to do.
Really? I picture it, I'm about your age, you sign some of these USC clients on their first contract 3 per cent that's 70, 80 thousand dollars.
Well, yeah dude, that's definitely dope. But it's also -- I l almost look at agents the same way that I do club promoters. It's like, I don't know dude, it's not my thing. I'd much rather be making, you know, I'd much rather own Under Armour than Rosenhaus Sports.
Did you ever read that SI piece about that agent tell all?
That's the exact reason that I don't want to be an agent. Because all of that is 100 per cent true. It's such a slimy game, and players are just so hard to deal with, and I'm not going to say, not all of them, but most of them are just hard to deal with -- they have huge egos. And the fact is the entire piece was true: it's impossible to win in the agency game playing by the rules. Because, like we already established, the rules are outdated. They were made 20 years ago, and somebody like me who his goal in life is to actually play by the rules -- and I tried every way to play by the rules, and my situation is definitely unique which is why this has all happened to me -- it's impossible to play by the rules in the agency game and that's the reason I don't want to be in it at all.
Do you think that that publicity between the golf cart ride, and your presumed connection to Everson Griffin, which, I would think people would characterise as negative, has that been good, or bad for you? Or what did you think of all the attention that that golf cart ride garnered.
If it were actually something bad that I did, maybe it would be bad. But the publicity was publicity that I couldn't have even paid for. It was probably the best thing that's happened to us to this point. If I wanted I could have 100 interns working for me for free this entire summer.
Yeah, 100 aspiring Jerry Maguires. Lastly, I want to ask you about profitability. It seems like you're eschewing sports representation, so you must be pretty confident in your business as is. Can it comfortably support you?
First of all I want to say that living comfortably -- I could already live comfortably. But it's never enough. When you're in business there's always room for improvement. In terms of seeing profitability, 1st Round is already extremely profitable, and it's not only enough for me to live comfortably, but the whole thing is, that I can wear a t-shirt and jeans to work and I work with all my friends, and it's profitable enough to make all my friends live comfortably, too. Each president of each division, they're all my boys.
Where's all the revenue coming from?
Right now our two revenue streams are from Sam Adams and obviously there are a lot of revenue streams from him: there's the music, there's touring , there's 360, so there's endorsement deals for him. And then UNCL, our clothing line, which has seen a lot of online sales, and we're in a couple of boutiques around southern California.
No, and to be honest Sam is like 80 per cent of the revenue. Sam is pretty much keeping the whole company afloat. There's a rule of thumb whether it be in business or in life, where one artist, or one investment, needs to be the basis for 10. The fact that we've hit huge with our first artist has been able to keep the whole company afloat. And now we have all these other things going, such as the film division or the sports, where opportunities are about to hit, but they haven't quite, which has taken investment, but all that investment has been able to be through the company through the success that we've seen through Sam.
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