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NFL insider talks business to students


For a businessman in the NFL, climbing the hierarchy isn’t as simple and clean-cut as other office jobs.

Just like football players, one may lose or gain a few yards on the way to the goal line. 

Andrew Brandt, an ESPN business analyst and former assistant general manager of the Green Bay Packers, shared his journey with an audience of nearly 100 students Wednesday night in the USF Marshall Center Oval Theater.  

Brandt, an ESPN business analyst and former assistant general manager of the Green Bay Packers, unveiled the inner-workings of the NFL to an audience of nearly 100 students as part of a weeklong Sports Lecture Series.

“I want to peel back the curtain of what really happens in football,” he said. “People overhear a lot of theory on what should happen in sports, but not what actually happens in sports.”

Brandt, who has 25 years worth of experience inside the professional football business, told stories from throughout his career.

Early on, he took a risk in starting a potential NFL expansion team in Spain. 

He said he was forced into a comical situation where the Spanish audience didn’t understand the sport, and where players lost their breath easily from smoking too many cigarettes. However, he said he adapted anyway.

Although unsuccessful, he said he gained experience from the adventure that shaped his future.

“In sports, you have to create opportunity for yourself,” he said. 

When he was hired as vice president of the Green Bay Packers in 2001, he said his entire life adapted to the career decision. 

“I convinced my wife to  move to Wisconsin,” he said. “It was quite a negotiation.”

Negotiation was a skill that would serve him well. 

Brandt said he learned how to deal with players whose professional life was negatively affected by their personal life. He said many sports managers act surprised when their players act lewdly in public, because managers forget players are human beings.

But Brandt said he left Green Bay after five years because he did not want to do the same thing for too long. He said he had other talents to explore.

“We’ve been there, we’ve done that,” he said. “Then we move on.”

Brandt became a writer, and eventually a reporter, who analyzed the NFL, and said he was uniquely able to illuminate the industry’s past and foreshadow its future. 

“When you’re in the NFL, you live and die with each week’s performance,” he said. “Now as a teacher, I can step back.”

He said he wanted to help students entering the workforce differentiate themselves from the “hordes” of others competing in the business of sports. 

“I try to give back,” he said. “I’m not curing cancer, but I do have knowledge of the industry and I want to lend my experience. More than anything else, I see myself as an educator.”

William Sutton, director of USF Sport and Entertainment Management program and USF College of Business professor, said the event was presented to inform “intellectually curious” fans about the business behind sports.

The lectures were originally intended for a sports business administration class, but were expanded to include the general public once Fox Sports Florida and the Tampa Bay Lightning agreed to sponsor the lectures, he said. 

“We wanted to share with all students and the Tampa community instead for our one class,” he said. “We wanted to give back to the community which we all live in.”