By Cameron Foster
A quick review and timeline of representing Deone Bucannon leading up the the 2014 NFL Draft.
December 21, 2013: Seattle, Washington
Christmas came early to Foster & Easley Sports Management Group and myself this year. At 5:00pm, shortly after the 2013 New Mexico Bowl, I received a text from Duane Bucannon (the father of WSU Strong Safety and AP First Team All-American Deone Bucannon) informing me that Deone would be calling me soon. I had met with Duane a couple times during the 2013 college football season and was hopeful that I would be the one assisting his son into his professional career, but in this business of professional athlete representation, few things are certain.
We had already set the date of Monday, June 23rd, for me to fly to Sacramento to meet with his son and family to discuss our sports management group and the services we would provide to Deone to prepare him for the 2014 NFL draft and beyond. So when I read Mr. Bucannon’s text, I was unsure if the pending call would be good news or bad news. At 5:07pm my phone rang and it was Deone asking me to be his agent. The news was exciting as I hollered to my family “Deone is with us”.
December 23, 2013: Vacaville, California
We kept the earlier scheduled meeting time and my flight landed in Sacramento around 9:30am. I was directed to drive to Deone’s mother’s address to meet her and Deone’s brothers for the first time. We sat and talked for a while as I watched her beam with joy and love for her eldest son. She asked me questions, such as what Deone’s father saw in me to be the one chosen to work with her son. Our discussions ranged from my experience in representing NFL players for the past 25 years to pre-NFL combine training that we would be assisting her son with begin January 1st. It was clear that Duane had done his homework on me including contacting two parents of current F&E clients and former teammates of Deone (Jeff Tuel (Buffalo Bills), and Marquess Wilson (Chicago Bears). I must have passed the test, as thereafter we all went out to lunch to celebrate Deone’s choice of his sports agent. Duane brought out the camera as Deone signed the NFL player representation agreement. I felt welcomed into the family during the pre meal prayer and it was a great moment to be accepted into such a loving and kind family. It was an afternoon I won’t forget.
January 1, 2014: Orlando, Florida – Pre-NFL Draft Training
I landed in Orlando, Florida a few hours ahead of Deone so that I had time to go to make sure the condo I was renting for the months of January and February was clean and ready to be the home for Deone and another college client of Foster & Easley. This was going to be his home as he trained exclusively for the NFL combine, mastering the drills he would be required to perform February 18th in Indianapolis, IN. As the PAC-12 leading tackler, and #1 ranked strong safety in the 2014 NFL Draft, there was little that could be debated about his dominant performance on a football field. However, there was one thing that could help or hurt Deone at the Combine: his 40-yard dash time. Teams put an over-the-top level of importance on athlete’s 40-yard dash times as a barometer of what kind of athlete that player may be. Because of this, and Deone’s desire to focus on his speed, we decided that trainer Tom Shaw in Orlando, Florida, would be the best place for Deone to train.
January 25, 2014: Mobile Alabama – Senior Bowl
On January 21st, I arrived in Mobile, Alabama, and drove directly to the Ladd Peebles Stadium where the North team, in which Deone was a player on, was just starting practice. I wore a Washington State Cougars baseball cap so teams would know whom I was there for. I met NFL coaches such as Chip Kelly, Pete Carroll, and Jim Harbaugh, and spoke with general managers of NFL teams regarding Deone. I watched Deone perform defensive back drills. He physically looked superior to the other safeties there. I took photos and video of him practicing to use in our future marketing packages we would be sending out to NFL teams on his behalf. When the practice was over Deone stayed on the field answering questions from reporters across the nation with cameras, microphones, and video recorders in his face. I had talked with Deone giving him some pointers on speaking to the press, but it was clear his experience at Washington State University and speaking on a regular basis to the press conferences before and after games prepared him well for this very moment. He was polished and well prepared, not to mention incredibly patient, with the questions that were repeatedly asked of him by different reporters in different interviews. I was proud to be his agent as he was a reflection of our sports management company.
February 18, 2014: Indianapolis, Indiana – NFL Combine
The 2014 NFL combine had arrived. This was a big day for Deone. Purely because he was taller and weighed 10lbs more than most of the safeties in the upcoming draft, he was labeled slow in many NFL circles. This label would change drastically today. Competing against 20 of the so-called best college safeties at the Combine, Deone finished top three in every drill. But the most impressing factor was his 40-yard dash time. Deone ran one of the fastest of the day running a 4.49. Predicted to be the best safety in the 2014 draft by draft analysts, Ha Ha Clinton Dix from Alabama, ran his 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds. Because of this, NFL eyes were opened and NFL teams started realizing that Deone was for real. What followed was a traveling frenzy with Deone traveling to over 20 NFL teams for team visits so NFL teams could learn more about this young man from Washington State.
May 8, 2014: Vacaville, California – Draft Day
I arrived at Deone’s mother’s house as a crew from ESPN was beginning to set up to have a live feed in case he was drafted. High school and family friends were all beginning to show up to eat amazing food and be with Deone and his family as they reminisced, hoped, and prayed that his phone would ring this day. At the 26th pick, the Philadelphia Eagles were on the clock… and Deone’s phone rang. Deone answered his phone and tears started running down his face. It was clear that this was the phone call we had been waiting for. The house erupted and we all thought Deone was going to Philadelphia. The curve ball was that it wasn’t Philadelphia on the line, it was the Arizona Cardinals and they were taking him next (at the 27th pick). It was an amazing experience. Deone went in the first-round to a team he was hoping to play for; the most important people in Deone’s life were with him; and I was honored to experience it with him.
Since the day I met Deone, the word “blessed” was often in his vocabulary. From training in Orlando, playing at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, to running a 4.49 at the NFL Combine, and now being the Arizona Cardinals first-round draft choice in the 2014 NFL draft. Deone would always take time to let people know how “blessed” he was to be in this position. In these past six months of assisting Deone through this maze of preparation and representation, it most definitely has been a privilege and without a doubt, a “blessing” for me to become part of his family and to experience this life-changing venture together.