Eddie Edwards’ Field of Dreams

To him, life is just one long fantasy camp

Published in 2008 Pennsylvania Rising Stars Magazine — December 2008

When he was in law school, Eddie Edwards Jr. attended parties with Wesley Snipes and Mike Tyson, chatted up future reality court show judge Joe Brown and watched Smokey Robinson sing at the House of Blues in Las Vegas at a party put on by Soul Train producer Don Cornelius. Being the son of Eddie Edwards Sr. had its privileges.

His father, a well-known radio and TV personality in Pittsburgh, and owner of eight TV stations, knew everybody and was happy to make introductions.

"To this day, he can pick up the phone and get anybody," Edwards says.

These days, though, he doesn't need his father making calls. The associate at Burns, White & Hickton in Pittsburgh has plenty of big shots of his own in his Rolodex. Clients.

 

Edwards was a sports nut as a kid in Pittsburgh. "If I wasn't playing something, I was watching or reading about it," he says. "Sometimes sports gets a bad rap, but you get self-discipline from it, you learn small-group communication skills, you learn a lot."

He was also interested in television production, the family business. At age 16, he started working for his father. He did a lot of bottom-rung jobs, including cleaning the sets of local programs. "It was not all parties and fun," he insists.

In 1995, after graduating with a communications degree from Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, he worked his way up to vice president at his father's company. There he oversaw day-to-day operations at the stations. It was a big job and he did it well, but he needed a new challenge. It was his father who suggested law.

Says the senior Edwards from his boat in Chesapeake Bay: "It didn't take much of a nudge—[Eddie Jr.] found law to be very intriguing."

Edwards enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in the late '90s and took to it right away. He began to wonder about combining the law with his love of sports. Through his father he just happened to know someone who had done exactly that: former Steeler Dwayne Woodruff.

"I remember when he said to me, ‘I want to be a sports agent,'" says Woodruff, who enrolled in law school while still a player and went on to become an agent and later a judge in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. "I said, ‘Come back when you're done with law school.'"

He did. And Woodruff came through.

"Dwayne really opened doors for me," Edwards says. "He took me by the hand and walked me through the entire process. He's invaluable as a friend and a mentor."

After gaining certification as a sports agent in October 2004, he made his first client pitch. Not to a promising running back or quarterback. A punter.

Andy Lee was finishing up a stellar career at the University of Pittsburgh when he got the call. "I'm going to be dead honest with you," Edwards told him. "I just got my license. I'm a lawyer in Pittsburgh. I have zero [sports] clients. All I'm asking you is for an opportunity to meet. That's it."

It worked.

"I got to negotiate his contract with the Niners. I got to negotiate his first marketing deal with a shoe company. I did all that my first year. How often does that happen?" he asks. And it all came from a cold call. "It was like something out of a movie. I just took a shot in the dark," he says.

Together, their careers took off. Lee became one of the best punters in the league and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2007. When that happened, "you would have thought my own son made it. Andy called me immediately," Edwards says. Later that year, Edwards negotiated a six-year, multimillion-dollar deal for his client.

Edwards takes pride in giving his clients his personal attention. "I'm not the kind of agent who when I represent you, you're going to deal with my assistant. When I represent you, you deal with me. This is what you bargained for. You bargained for Eddie Edwards. You call me, I usually answer. But if I don't answer, within 24 hours you will get a response. It can be in the middle of the night. Call me in the middle of the night."

Cleveland Browns linebacker Kris Griffin knows the phone lines are always open. "He made a great impression on me. He was a new and upcoming agent who didn't have that many clients—I knew he'd work hard," he says. "I consider him one of my good friends. He's a stand-up guy."

Edwards doesn't want to say exactly how many clients he has—"It's hard to quantify, it keeps morphing"—but suffice it to say he keeps busy. His business philosophy is pure Ray Kinsella. "I figure if I have a good practice with a good reputation, the players will come. Because they'll hear about it through word of mouth and they'll want to be represented by somebody who does things the right way," he says.

Edwards often brings clients home and introduces them to his wife, Portia, and their children, ages 13, 11 and 9, who all play sports. "For me, it's like a small family," he says of his relationship with the athletes. "Any kind of issues that arise—business issues, real estate purchases—I'm that resource they can come to."

He tells students who are interested in careers in athletics that they can get there, one way or the other. "You can be a trainer, an agent, you can be general counsel for the team. You can work in media services. There's a ton of other things you can do," he says. "I feel like I'm just as much a part of the NFL as anybody else."

He's also as much a part of the name Eddie Edwards as anybody else. Just ask his namesake.

"He's made his own name for himself," Eddie Edwards Sr. says. "He's very sharp, kind-hearted, a decent human being. He's turned into a hell of a man."        

 

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