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Ralph Cindrich

October 12, 2011

Ralph Cindrich  (March 12,  2011):

First, can you walk readers through how and why you became an agent and offer advice for any who would wish to do the same?

Sports led me into wrestling and football-strong arms, strong back, weak mind. With that agent thing, I took a wrong turn early on and kept on going.

Are you still involved in any way with the school you played college football at – the University of Pittsburgh? What do you think of the state of their program and the new head coach?

I thought the handling of the firing of Dave Wannstedt-a former teammate and friend—was an embarrassment and disaster. I met the new coach briefly at the Dapper Dan Banquet and he seemed like a first class guy. 
 
Tell us about some of the events you have coming up that readers should know about.

I have never been busier.

In addition to consulting and counseling, I do and have done expert witness case work on some  of the biggest cases: OJ McDuffie, Corey Stringer, David Griggs, and more. Another big one is coming up in a week or so.

Last week as an example I had at least a dozen radio interviews and Fox Business on a remote in addition to Sunday’s KDKA Black & Gold which I co-host with Rob Pratte and others. We are expecting Kevin Colbert on at 12.30 Sunday. I spoke at Duquesne law school last night at an anti-trust class and was keynote speaker the U of Miami Sports Symposium last Saturday.

Before that, Michigan State, and Penn State next week. I put together 2 International Law programs for Law Students. One is  4 ABA credits for 3 weeks in Florence and another is a 1 week in Switzerland. All ABA approved. And I still work with football clients and all that goes on.

How do you decide on who to target to represent and do you ever turn players away? If so, for what reasons?

I am out of recruiting now but take on players who are referred. Before that, I targeted guys initially based on confidential reports Then my own research, and oh yeah, I’ve turned away my share and more so in recent years. I don’t have time for guys who don’t take their trade seriously.

How are the CBA negotiations affecting you – what worries you most about what a new agreement could entail?

18 games worries me most. Nothing else bothers me probably because I am more of a commentator.

How do you prepare rookies for the pro game – and for life after college?

You end up as a general rule the way you start out – first with a disciplined workout program and then making sure they are with proper professionals who are specialists. Really, everything from A to Z but I am not and never have been anyone’s mommy. 
 
In the same vein, how do you prepare players for retirement and how difficult is that for them – and you?

Football advisors should not advise clients on financial matters unless they have a degree or are experienced and NFLPA certified. That is part of the rules nowadays. So the advice concerns a philosophy and starting them out right.

Sometimes they have those people in place before you start representing them and some are bad choices- bad people or clueless. 
 
With more and more of players’ personal lives – especially legal issues – becoming public, how do you prepare players to protect themselves from these situations and has that become a bigger part of your player preparation?

You come into the Pros of majority age. You know right from wrong. You emphasize the consequences of a screw up-the impact on their lives. Simple rules: don’t drive while drinking, stay out of crowded bars, watch who you are with, and who you hang with-general common sense advice.

Can you give a quick run-through on how a standard contract negotiation/process would work in the NFL?

Depends on the team. Some like to start early and try to get it done but most agents and teams don’t have enough knowledge or guts to set the market. If you get a really good deal early, other agents use it hard in their negotiations for more  for their clients & your deal pales.

Usually the team sends out its first lame offer, you counter, they counter, and you go back and forth until it gets done.

How difficult are the Steelers in their negotiations normally – do they have differences in negotiation processess and behaviors from other teams –  and are there terms that they simply as an organization demand – or will not accept –  on principle?

The Steelers used to be the worst-I mean terrible and a knockdown, drag out-always.

Now, they do it right-professional as is the whole organization. Omar Khan never lets anything go South with personalities. He gets it done and he’s a valuable member of the Big 4 with Art, Mike, & Kevin.

Many fans are skeptical about the free agency process when players sign with new teams minutes after the free agency period begins. Can you describe how that can happen and your thoughts on those occurrences?

The New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl. The Phoenix Cardinals were within seconds of winning a Super Bowl. So free agency has been good for the league.

When you see those early moves, the rules most likely were just broken. It is extremely difficult at that time when talking for the first time (as you are supposed to do) that you can get a deal done.

My advice to players: in Professional football, finding a good home where you are happy, have success, and enjoy getting up and going to work is not the rule. When you find it, you don’t easily throw it away.

You look at after tax dollars and weigh that with the unknown of another team and you think twice about. I think about some of the great players with the Steelers that left here and fizzled. Maybe a shot at the Hall of Fame if they had stayed, who knows? If the money is so large that you get a nose bleed-a gift from God-take it and the crap that likely goes with it.

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