Tackling a Man’s World
By Lena Anthony
Volume 146, Number 1, January/Feburary 2012, Page 6
When it comes to how she feels about football, Angela Hales says the word “fan” doesn’t fully describe it. Her parents raised her to root for the University of Alabama, a school whose football program is often ranked among the best in the nation, and she grew up in New Orleans, home of the Saints. In fact, she went to the very first game the Saints played in 1967. She and her husband, Myrt, love watching football on weekends: high school on Friday night, college on Saturday and the NFL on Sundays.
It was during one of these football weekends four years ago that Mrs. Hales got an idea: “I turned to my husband and said I wanted to be the first female NFL referee,” says the member of the Boeuf River Chapter, Rayville, La. “He immediately said that it was too dangerous, but asked why didn’t I become an agent instead.”
So she did. Armed with an MBA (either that or a law degree is a prerequisite), Mrs. Hales applied and was invited to take the licensing exam.
Today, Mrs. Hales (or Big Mama, as her players know her) runs the Angela Hales Sports Agency in Rayville, La. She is the only female NFL agent in Louisiana, and one of 750 licensed sports agents in the country. Mrs. Hales estimates that no more than 10 percent of the agents nationwide are female. “I’ve always found myself working in a man’s world,” says Mrs. Hales, who had previously been the first female supervisor for State Farm’s Monroe, La., office. “I feel comfortable there. I like to go places that women haven’t gone before.”
Her son, Myrt Hales III, also is a licensed NFL agent. Together they are the only mother and son pair of agents in the history of the NFL. “There are a lot of fathers and sons, but we’re the first mother and son,” she says.
As an agent, Mrs. Hales spends a lot of time on the road, attending the NFL’s annual scouting and predraft events in Indianapolis and Mobile, Ala. She attends NFL games across the country, visits training facilities and accompanies her clients to tryouts. When she’s not on the road, she’s on the phone—talking to players, coaches and team personnel. “It’s a lot of PR and marketing,” she says. And, she admits, success has a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time. “It’s extremely competitive,” she says. “Think about it. There are 750 agents, thousands of players, but only 224 spots in the draft each year.”
She finds her players mostly by word of mouth, as a strict collective bargaining agreement places restrictions on when agents can contact prospective clients. Currently, she is representing 17 players, many from the South but one from as far away as British Columbia, Canada.
She makes it clear that she doesn’t do it for the money—she does it for the love of the game. “I love to see these young men achieve their goals,” she says. “That’s really why I love this job—it’s about the people.”
Mrs. Hales, who has been attending NFL games for more than 40 years, says she has noticed that there are more women in the stands today. “If you look around, about half of the fans are women,” she says. “Women are also talking about football more. That was never the case before.”