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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Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Columbus 3 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
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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 Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
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