Now it's back to the office and the phones. Messages have piled up, and Mills keeps phoning. At 5:45 he talks hurriedly with the Rams, making a deal for 12th-round pick Alonzo Williams, a running back. The Rams' general counsel, Jay Zygmunt, says he has never spent so much time on a 12th-rounder. They share a laugh, adversaries in arms. The bottom line for Williams: an $8,000 signing bonus. At 5:52 Mills has Williams on the phone and is talking optimistically. But when he hangs up, he looks a little sad: "Twenty-eight teams passed on him 11 times, but they could be wrong." They weren't. Six weeks later Williams was cut. He gets to keep the $8,000; Mills's fee—it varies from 3% to 5%—brings the agent $400.
The calls are really beginning to back up now. Mills's secretary, Vicki Spanswick, takes more messages. A relative of free agent quarterback Loren Snyder—he played at Northern Colorado—calls and asks Mills and his family to attend a going-away barbecue for the young athlete, who will get a look-see by the Dallas Cowboys. Mills accepts the invitation. By now it's 6:00, and Mills is, as is his custom, quitting for the day. The phone is ringing as he walks out.
It's a 12-minute drive to his house in the shadow of Devil's Thumb. His front door opens to the foothills of the Rockies, and his rear door overlooks city lights; deer play near the hot tub. On this spectacular evening the whole family is home. There's his wife, Cirrelda; Tom, 19, a University of Kansas sophomore; Deborah, a 24-year-old University of Oklahoma graduate (Jack's alma mater, where he also got his law degree); and Mary, 22, who helps coordinate Elizabeth Dole's activities on behalf of presidential candidate Robert Dole. The shish kebab is on the grill, and the sun is setting behind Flagstaff mountain. All is peaceful—for a while.
It's 8 p.m. The phone rings.