I went back to my hotel and for a little while I felt good, but then the phone rang. It was a teammate of Kanavis's calling.
"Hey, man, Kanavis told me you're a pretty good dude," he said. "I got this problem, and I need some help. My father is really sick and he is losing his apartment and I need $2,500. Do you think you can help me out the way you helped Kanavis?"
My heart dropped. I hung up and got the hell out of there. The whole flight home I was kicking myself. How could I be so stupid?
THE BALL BOY
How does a dyslexic Jewish kid with no college degree become an NFL agent? How does he last in the profession for nearly 20 years? As it did with many others who became sports agents in the 1980s and early '90s, the career found me. This was pre--Jerry Maguire, before football agents became as famous as their clients. It was not a glamorous profession and was full of guys who had fallen into it.
I was born in Brooklyn. My father was a urologist and an acupuncturist, and he treated New York Knicks Spencer Haywood and Earl (the Pearl) Monroe. They would come by the house and play basketball with me on the hoop in the front yard while waiting for their appointments. I saw how magical those athletes were, how people responded to them, and knew I wanted to be associated with athletes in the future.
My family moved to Beverly Hills when I was 10, and my father got Raiders season tickets. It became my dream to be part of that team. In the fall of 1985, during my junior year at Beverly Hills High, I talked my way into an internship with Bud Furillo, who hosted a sports talk show on KABC-AM. After I'd worked for free for several months Bud asked how he could repay me.
"Help me get a job with the Raiders," I said.
Bud talked to owner Al Davis, and a few weeks later I drove to Raiders training camp in Oxnard, Calif., for the first of three summers I would spend as a ball boy.
One of the players I was most excited to meet that first year was Greg Townsend, the star defensive end. When Greg pulled up in his Mercedes for the first day of camp, I ran over to him like some goofball fan, wearing my Raiders-issue, silver-and-black knee socks and shorts, and said, "Hey, Greg, how are you doing?" I offered to help carry his bags, and as we were walking, he asked me where I was from. I knew that Greg grew up in the inner city, in Compton, and I worried that if he heard I was from Beverly Hills he would judge me harshly. I told him I didn't want to say, but he kept asking. "I am from Beverly Hills, but not from the really, really rich part," I finally admitted. "I'm from the rougher part."