Mike McCartney is an NFLPA certified agent for Vayner Sports. He has previously worked as a scout for the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles after college coaching stints at the University of Colorado and University of North Carolina.
We caught up with Mike for this week’s Friday Five…
Who is your biggest mentor?
Well, that’s an easy one: my father Bill McCartney. He was a college football coach. He coached under Bo Schembechler for nine years at Michigan and was the head coach at Colorado for 13 years. I tell recruits all the time that he won a national championship in 1990 None of them can believe Colorado won a national championship. Such an unreal resource for me as I grew up in the business and watched him do it with integrity. Over the years, to hear how many coaches and players honestly revere him, it’s just awesome.
Watching him close; working with him for three years, the first lesson is: You can operate in integrity and be successful—highly successful. You can be a good person and be highly successful. You don’t have to be a tyrant. You can be a strong leader and hold people accountable, but you can do it in an honoring way to your employees, your coaches or your players or whoever.
At a young age, working alongside him, that was a great boost to when I got on my own and hired by the Chicago Bears. I saw it up close.I knew that you could do all those things and still be highly successful.
In what ways has your time as a scout and a coach helped you as an agent?
It’s been an immense help. I know the game of football. I was trained to study players. I was trained to study teams. I developed the ability to differentiate players and an understanding of why a player might be a better fit in a different system. I learned pretty quickly if I was excited about a player’s talent and character. I had much more passion in representing him.
My goal was always to know the player from a football perspective and from a personal perspective better than any team. When I would speak about him, I could speak with conviction and boldness and in honesty. It helped me with my players. I believe it’s helped me with teams. Teams know that I’m not going to oversell a player. I’m just going to be honest about what he can bring to their situation. I have confidence in doing that, because I know the game. I grew up in it. I played quarterback in college and I was a coach and scout. I was on the scouting side for nine years and it’s all helped me be a better agent.
The best conversations I have are when I get to talk to players who have had some success and ask, “OK, you’re good, now how do we become great?” Then, when the player puts that work in, “OK, now you’re great, but how do we become elite?” I can have those conversations at a deeper level because of my background and it’s a fulfilling way I can help my players be the best versions of themselves.
How’s it feel to be one of the most controversial coaches on Twitter?
McCartney is often confused with Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Mike McCarthy, which leads to some interesting Twitter exchanges—especially during Cowboys games.
You know, that’s a long running gig. I feel like I could go to Vegas and carry that on for years. It’s been fun. Honestly, I just try to embrace it. I know that some people get agitated on social media when they get wrongly tagged. I just figured, early on, I would embrace it. When Mike [McCarthy] was in Green Bay. I was probably more specific about answering questions.
When he got to Dallas, I’m maybe a little more broad. If you read my tweets, maybe you’re not sure if I’m him or not. I just try to have fun with it, and people continue to follow me. I get a lot of people trolling me now…trying to prompt me to respond. It’s more fun when they have no clue.
So what piece of advice would you give your younger self?
I would say this is a relationship business. Sometimes, when you’re young, it’s easy to focus on the work. People around the NFL tend to fall in love with the term “grinding.” Yes, it’s important—really important—to work hard, but relationships matter. If I look back, I wish I’d spent more time working relationally with people.
If you invite any three people in history to dinner, who would they be and why?
Jesus would be my first. As a man of faith and Christian, I have submitted my life to Jesus. How cool would it be to actually meet him face to face and to sit down and break bread with him? I wouldn’t say a word, I would just listen.
My mom would be second. She passed in 2013. I often say who I am is because of my mom. I was really close to her and moved away in 1990. So, I didn’t really get a ton of time with her. She’s been gone for several years.
Then, my third choice is Samuel P Chase. He signed the Declaration of Independence, and was, I believe, my great-great-great grandfather. I think there were three greats in there. Maybe there is a fourth great. So, that’d be pretty cool to sit and have dinner with a relative who actually signed the Declaration of Independence and was there when our country started.