LaMonte is agent to the NFL coaching stars

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 12, 2014 - 12:43 AM

Bob LaMonte, a former high school coach, gave Mike Holmgren a job, who in turn hired him. Now 26 NFL teams employ his clients.

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Agent Bob LaMonte (left, with then-Broncos coach Josh McDaniels and Denver owner Pat Bowlen in 2009) represents coaches and front-office personnel from 26 NFL teams.

Photo: David Zalubowski, Associated Press

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In a sport that fires roughly 20 percent of its head coaches every year, it pays to be a well-prepared and well-connected assistant when the NFL carousel stops briefly to interview new blood each January.

For the past 26 years, Bob LaMonte, a 67-year-old superagent among those who represent NFL coaches and front-office executives, has been a pioneer in that regard. In that time, the average head coaching salary has gone from about $250,000 to more than $3.5 million, an increase caused by a number of factors, including the efforts of Professional Sports Representation, a business that LaMonte started with his wife more than three decades ago.

“I represented players from 1978 to ’88, and then I began to see that no one had ever represented coaches as a negotiator who actually hammered out deals and went hammer and tongs with ownership,” LaMonte said. “People have at least said we drove that market. Whether we did or not, that’s not for me to say.”

According to his website, LaMonte has negotiated more than $1.25 billion in professional sports contracts. He represents coaches and front office executives from 26 NFL teams, including Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and the past two Vikings head coaches, Brad Childress and the recently fired Leslie Frazier.

Seven head coaches were fired during or after the 2013 regular season. Three vacancies have been filled, including the one in Washington, where the Redskins hired Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, this year’s “hot” NFL assistant and, not coincidently, one of LaMonte’s clients.

Spielman was in Cincinnati preparing to be Gruden’s third interview in as many days when the Redskins called in LaMonte to close the deal on Gruden, the younger brother of Jon Gruden, the Super Bowl-winning former NFL coach and, yes, another LaMonte client.

Meanwhile, Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, another hot assistant and LaMonte client as well, will wait for Denver’s season to end before interviewing with teams. Gase is one of 11 candidates in whom the Vikings have expressed interest.

If Gase gets a head coaching job this season, he’ll be the second Broncos offensive coordinator to do so in two years, joining Mike McCoy, now the head coach in San Diego. Naturally, McCoy is a LaMonte client. So, too, is Broncos head coach John Fox and Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco, the guy who hired McCoy.

How it all started

LaMonte and Mike Holmgren grew up together in San Francisco. Yes, that Mike Holmgren.

“We became best friends,” LaMonte said.

LaMonte played football at the University of Santa Clara, where he earned a history degree. He went on to San Jose State, where he taught while earning his master’s degree in United States Diplomatic History/Labor History. From there, he went to Oak Grove High School in San Jose, Calif., where he taught U.S. history and coached varsity football.

In 1975, Holmgren needed a job. LaMonte hired him to teach history and coach football. An unlikely path to the top of the NFL had unknowingly begun.

LaMonte’s involvement with the NFL began in the spring of 1981 when he represented California quarterback Rich Campbell, a former student of his and the sixth overall draft pick of the Packers that year. Seven years later, LaMonte became Holmgren’s agent when the latter was 49ers offensive coordinator. Four years after that, Holmgren was hired as Packers head coach and, well, the rest is history that includes winning the Lombardi Trophy.

“The only question was whether Mike should become the coach and I become the agent,” LaMonte joked. “But it worked out pretty well this way.”

As Holmgren’s coaching tree matured, LaMonte was there to catch and train the apples that began to fall. Apples such as Andy Reid and Jon Gruden.

Then, as Reid’s tree developed, LaMonte was there for guys such as Childress. Eventually, Frazier followed suit, asking LaMonte to represent him in 2010 after Frazier claimed he had interviewed for six jobs in three years and lost each one of them to LaMonte clients.

‘It’s not the X’s and O’s …’

In his book, “Winning the NFL Way: Leadership Lessons from Football’s Top Head Coaches,” LaMonte wrote his favorite line when it comes to explaining what he focuses on during the several weeks it takes to train young assistants for their head coaching interviews.

“It’s not the X’s and O’s, it’s the CEOs,” said LaMonte, repeating the line from his book. “Teams are hiring someone who is going to run a multi-million dollar operation. We concentrate on the ability to show leadership and demonstrate that you can manage an entire organization.”

LaMonte’s clients are known for being painstakingly detailed. A prime example was Mike Sherman, who walked into his interview with the Packers with a huge binder filled with every possible detail, including an hour-by-hour schedule for each of the next 52 weeks.

Exhausting process

When McCoy was the hot assistant a year ago, he was allowed, per NFL rules, to interview with four teams for only four hours apiece during the Broncos’ playoff bye week. Also per NFL rules, the Broncos were able to dictate where and when those interviews took place.

“The Broncos said it could happen the Saturday and Sunday of the playoff bye week, and they had to take place in Denver,” LaMonte said. “So we had four owner’s jets at a private air strip in Denver.”

McCoy was put up in a nearby hotel room and was scheduled to meet with the Eagles, Bears, Cardinals and Bills over two days.

“People just don’t realize how hard these interviews are,” LaMonte said. “They can be 10, 12 hours if they’re out of the playoffs and four if they’re still in the playoffs. But remember, if they’re still in the playoffs, they’re also getting ready for a game at the same time.”

In McCoy’s case, he made it through two of his four scheduled interviews and then told LaMonte he could do only one more the following day. The Bills flew home without an interview.

Meanwhile, the Chargers weren’t in the picture at that point because Telesco hadn’t been hired. Days after LaMonte hammered out Telesco’s deal, Telesco was in a jet in Denver waiting to take McCoy back to San Diego if the Broncos were upset in the divisional round, which they were, in double overtime by the Ravens.

LaMonte enjoys cultivating the next generation of head coaches, but that doesn’t mean he has enjoyed seeing 83 coaching changes — an average of six per year — since 2000.

“I would call it completely nuts,” LaMonte said. “I mean not even close. Nuts. It’s real simple. What I would say is patience is no longer a virtue.”

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Cleveland 70 4th Qtr 7:20
Indiana 76
Washington 63 4th Qtr 8:41
Philadelphia 69
Golden State 69 3rd Qtr 7:11
Toronto 35
New York 52 3rd Qtr 7:08
Detroit 56
Orlando 58 3rd Qtr 5:21
Atlanta 63
Charlotte 73 3rd Qtr 1:33
Boston 64
LA Clippers 35 2nd Qtr 2:04
Memphis 37
Brooklyn 57 2nd Qtr 0:29
Houston 53
Miami 54 2nd Qtr 0:25
New Orleans 54
Minnesota 44 2nd Qtr 0:00
Chicago 51
Utah 8:00 PM
Denver
San Antonio 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
Portland
Boston 2 3rd Prd 8:34
New Jersey 2
Calgary 0 3rd Prd 11:34
NY Islanders 1
Washington 0 3rd Prd 18:04
Carolina 2
Chicago 0 2nd Prd 3:09
Tampa Bay 1
Colorado 0 1st Prd 2:54
Dallas 0
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Penn 69 FINAL
Brown 75
Fairfield 60 2nd Half 0:45
Canisius 67
Manhattan 65 2nd Half 1:29
Iona 71
Saint Peters 62 2nd Half 0:33
Marist 65
Princeton 60 FINAL
Yale 81
Ohio 23 2nd Half 20:00
Akron 27
Dartmouth 40 2nd Half
Columbia 38
Valparaiso 9:00 PM
Cleveland State
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 77 FINAL
Xavier 60
Cornell 54 FINAL
Harvard 60
Yale 49 FINAL
(14) Princeton 67
Elon 51 FINAL
Drexel 54
Northeastern 47 FINAL
James Madison 82
St Johns 60 FINAL
Butler 49
Creighton 71 FINAL
Georgetown 62
Brown 58 FINAL
Penn 75
Columbia 50 FINAL
Dartmouth 60
Canisius 54 FINAL
Siena 58
St Josephs Brooklyn 35 FINAL
NJIT 78
Western Carolina 73 2nd Half 2:51
UNC Greensboro 68
Colorado 28 2nd Half 20:00
Arizona 28
Southern Ill 40 2nd Half
Bradley 39
Drake 27 2nd Half
Wichita State 39
Indiana State 43 2nd Half 15:30
Evansville 28
Illinois State 29 2nd Half
Loyola-Chicago 33
Northern Iowa 34 2nd Half
Missouri State 35
Utah 15 1st Half 7:07
(10) Arizona State 10
Providence 26 1st Half 3:48
Villanova 29
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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