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Devonta Freeman Earns His Way to the Top

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Last week, Miami native Devonta Freeman became the highest-paid running back in the NFL when he signed a five-year contract extension with the Atlanta Falcons worth $41.25 million. It includes a $15 million signing bonus. That is a remarkable accomplishment.

Though Freeman has earned his place as one of the premier offensive players in the league, he remains grounded, never forgetting his roots growing up dirt poor in the Pork 'n' Beans projects in Liberty City. He has surrounded himself with people who have his best interests at heart, starting with his sports agent and my wife, Kristin Campbell.

The professional athlete representation business is one of the most notorious, slimiest professions in the world. It’s a good-old-boys club where minority sports agents usually get frozen out. Kristin just won a huge victory for African American women trying to break the glass ceiling by playing by the rules. All the football pundits claimed she wouldn't be able to make her client the highest paid running back. If she hadn't, there would have been hot takes about how she failed.

Kristin, who is one of 50 female agents among 900 authorized by the NFL Players Association to negotiate contracts, has been able to keep Freeman and sign other big-name Miami players such as Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson. The reason? She doesn’t play dirty.

And she doesn’t get played by unscrupulous agents who take advantage of their clients to suck up all of their earnings by sending them to financial advisers who offer NFL athletes bad advice. Agents take advantage of single parent households. They profile the student athletes and the family to figure out how to brain wash them. They convince the player to buy houses and nice cars for their mothers with their realtor and car dealer friends. The crooked agents will divide their family members by promising them jobs to lure them away.

Some players learn the hard way and end up warning others to watch their back like New York Giants offensive tackle Bobby Hart, who recently tweeted about his falling out with his agent, "All young athletes please DO NOT SIGN WITH Impact Sports Inc., worst mistake ever." The ones who don't learn end up in a sequel to Billy Corben’s 30 for 30 documentary, Broke. Or like former University of Miami star Clinton Portis, who recently told Sports Illustrated that he contemplated killing his financial advisor who put him in some bad deals.

Kristin will never attract the players who want to party every night on South Beach or the guys who want a sycophantic agent. She will teach them to be responsible business men on the field and off the field. She teaches them to be aware of their surroundings because they are their brand. She teaches them the business of football. She doesn't dump her guys to piranha financial.

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