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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Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto 6 Bottom 9th Inning
NY Yankees 2
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston 2 Top 1st Inning
Baltimore 0
Milwaukee 0 Top 1st Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Washington 0 Top 1st Inning
Miami 0
NY Mets 0 Top 1st Inning
Atlanta 0
Chicago WSox 0 Top 1st Inning
Tampa Bay 0
Cleveland 0 Delayed
Minnesota 0
Seattle 0 Top 1st Inning
Houston 0
Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Wacha
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
Utah 26 Delayed 7:51
Michigan 10
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
North Carolina 34 4th Qtr 8:39
East Carolina 63
Virginia 33 4th Qtr 1:34
(21) BYU 41
Florida 21 4th Qtr 3:00
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 3rd Qtr 6:02
FIU 3
San Jose St 7 Delayed 11:38
Minnesota 17
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Indiana 24 4th Qtr 5:00
(18) Missouri 24
Texas State 14 2nd Qtr 3:05
Illinois 6
Georgia State 7 2nd Qtr 5:02
Washington 0
Appalachian St 0 1st Qtr 13:14
Southern Miss 7
Miss State 0 1st Qtr 13:33
(8) LSU 0
Northern Ill 0 1st Qtr 12:59
Arkansas 7
Middle Tennessee 0 1st Qtr 14:00
Memphis 0
Utah State 0 1st Qtr 11:53
Arkansas State 0
Miami-Ohio 0 1st Qtr 12:04
Cincinnati 0
Idaho 0 1st Qtr 11:58
Ohio U 0
Ball State 0 1st Qtr 13:20
Toledo 6
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 2nd Half 3:00
Portland 3
Houston 0 1st Half 44:55
Philadelphia 0
New England 6:30 PM
Columbus
San Jose 6:30 PM
Montreal
Seattle 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 0 14:33
Hamilton 0
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
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