GRIT is a player-centric sports management firm which is dedicated to respecting the sacrifice and devotion of its clients and executing that same level of effort and determination at every corner of the job of an NFL agent.

"There’s only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything."

- Vince Lombardi

About Grit

We have spoken to dozens of players that have defeated incredible odds to put themselves in a position to be drafted into the NFL. To say they have suffered through blood, sweat and tears is an understatement. They often tell powerful stories of lifelong sacrifice, hardship and adversity, and personify the GRIT that NFL teams are seeking to add to their culture. We respect that sacrifice, we admire that determination and applaud that GRIT, and we vow to represent NFL players with similar energy and resolve.

Team Members

Ted Kalnins

Certified NFLPA Agent

After graduating from The Ohio State University in 2001, where he played varsity baseball, Ted obtained his law degree from Western University in 2004. Ted practices business litigation at Dickinson Wright law firm, which is based out of Detroit, but has 19 offices across the United States and Canada. Dickinson Wright has provided legal advice on estate planning and other business matters to many professional athletes, including Jalen Ramsey, Eric Berry, Shaquille O’Neal and David Ortiz.

“I am inspired by athletes who overcome intense adversity and for whom the desire to succeed is never quenched. I want to help players maximize their opportunity to earn a rewarding living in the NFL and put in place intelligent structures that will ensure their brands, their assets and their legacies are protected for them and their families long-term.”

Fernando Rizzo

Director of Business and Marketing Operations

Fernando is a Sports Management graduate from the University of Florida who also has an MBA from St. Thomas University in Miami, where he currently resides with his wife and daughter. Prior to joining GRIT, Fernando worked in Miami and Los Angeles alongside NBA agents and a boxing manager for whom he procured marketing opportunities for athletes. Fernando coordinates public relations for clients and helps secure and evaluate various types of corporate endorsement deals.

“NFL means ‘Not For Long’, so there is no time to waste when it comes to having a business and marketing plan. I will bring the energy and creativity you need to form that plan and execute on it. Let’s get it!”

“Talent sets the floor, character sets the ceiling.”

- Bill Belichick

What We Do

Contract Negotiations

There are numerous terms of a contract which can turn a good deal into a great one: base salary guarantees, length of contract, voidable language to shorten the deal if a player out-performs it, escalators and incentives to increase and reward your performance, not to mention various types of bonuses (such as reporting bonuses, workout bonuses, roster bonuses, etc.). We have access to and analyze countless existing player contracts to know and understand a player’s value and ensure you receive more than just a fair deal. Every player, regardless of position or ability, is seeking long-term financial security and that is where our attention is fixed.

Pre-Draft Training

For rookies, we provide access to the elite of the elite combine training facilities, XPE Sports. You will work with the nation’s best strength and conditioning coaches who have a proven track-record of greatly improving player performance for the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, regardless of position. Not only will these trainers push you to unlock speed and strength like you have never had before, but they will teach you key techniques which are indispensable to succeed in the various combine drills. Your training will include cutting edge technologies that give you an advantage over other players training for the combine, as well as access to rehab services, yoga and massage therapists to ensure your body is maintained at optimal level. Position coaching is provided by former NFL pros. In addition, you will hear lectures and learn life lessons from current and former NFL executives who will help prepare you for the intense interview process at the Combine.


Accessible to you and your family at all times. We will be there with you at every stage of the draft process, making sure you’re are as informed and prepared as possible.

Marketing/Business Opportunities

Every player is first and foremost a unique person who requires a personalized strategy to maximize his brand and presence. Every endorsement opportunity will be evaluated to ensure it will enhance our client’s marketing strategy and every contract will be negotiated to ensure it provides appropriate compensation and protection. We work directly with corporations looking to create strategic marketing relationships, as well as marketing experts with leads on endorsement opportunities. Such marketing experts also assist players in website design and devising social media strategies to expand and enhance fan and corporate engagement.


It goes without saying that any player who wants to leave a legacy of devotion to community or other social issues needs to dedicate time and have a plan for advancing those aims. We also help players create a community action plan through non-profit organizations and charitable partnerships so that every player leaves behind seeds of hope and positive impact that extend well beyond their playing careers.

Legal/Financial Planning

According to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, 78% of NFL players are either bankrupt or are under financial stress within two years of retirement. Given that the average NFL career lasts only 3.3 years, it goes without saying that strong financial, legal and tax planning is critical for all players. We refer our clients to NFLPA certified financial planners who provide comprehensive financial and money management, including life planning, 401k, retirement planning and investing advice. We also refer our clients to trusted legal advisors who have extensive experience working for professional athletes and entertainers with respect to copyright/trademark protection, estate and business planning, real estate, pre and post-nuptial contracts and other legal services aimed at ensuring our clients have maximum security and protection.


Lastly, we take particular pride in dedicating our assistance to clients even after their football playing careers are over. Through our extensive business industry connections, we assist former players in fulfilling their post-career aspirations whether they are seeking mentorship, financing to start a new business or employment in a particular industry.

“The only competition that matters is the one that takes place within yourself.”

- Pete Carroll

Q & A

Division I-A and I-AA football student-athletes are permitted to enter the NFL draft one time without losing eligibility in that sport, so long as the student-athlete is not drafted and declares his intention to resume NCAA football participation within 72 hours after the “NFL draft declaration date”, which usually occurs in mid-January. Please note that in order to return to or enroll in an NCAA institution, the player must not have had an oral or written agreement with an agent nor received any benefits from an agent.
Most players believe that the earliest they can enter the NFL draft is after their junior year of college. However, the Collective Bargaining Agreement states that any player can declare for the draft three years subsequent to his high school graduation date. A famous example of this rule is Larry Fitzgerald, who only attended Pitt for two years before entering the draft. This was permitted because after graduating from high school, he returned for a fifth year to improve his grades before enrolling at Pitt, meaning he was three years past his original graduation date after his sophomore season at Pitt. Four years subsequent to high school graduation, a player is immediately eligible for the draft. If a player is not drafted, then he becomes a free agent immediately following the draft. This is why undrafted players are referred to as undrafted free agents (UDFAs).
An NCAA player may not agree to be represented by an agent until after his eligibility has ended, including post-season competition. Even an oral agreement to be represented by an agent in the future would jeopardize a player’s amateur status. This is the reason why many agents attend bowl games. NCAA rules are extremely clear and forbid players from receiving anything of value from an agent until then.
An NCAA player may talk to an agent at any time. However, the player will be ineligible if he has agreed (orally or in writing) to be represented by an agent for the purpose of marketing his athletics ability or reputation in that sport, or if an agent provides benefits to student-athlete.
Yes, a player can seek advice from a lawyer regarding a proposed NFL contract if that lawyer does not represent the player in negotiations for the contract. The lawyer may not have contact with the NFL team on your behalf or participate in negotiations on your behalf, as those services must be provided by a certified NFLPA agent.
The maximum fee permitted is 3% per year. The majority of certified NFLPA agents charge between 2-3%. Agents only receive fees as payments are made to players from NFL teams. In addition, an agent can never charge you for weekly pay during OTA’s (organized team activities), Mini Camp, Pre Season and Post Season Games, or even Practice Roster pay. An agent should only be charging you for all items that he/she negotiated on your NFL contract. That includes all base pay, bonuses of any forms, and incentives that were negotiated and added to your team contract. It does not include incentives that a player may earn from a “Player Performance Pool” paid out to each player at the end of the season by each of the 32 NFL teams. These incentive bonuses are determined on both the players on field play and his performance plus his play time over that season. This scenario described above also has a lot to do with the players current base salary and depth on his team's roster. What this basically means is if a back-up player contributes to the team by more playing time or production then expected, then he would be entitled to a very aggressive bonus from this “player performance pool” of dollars paid in February following the end of the previous season. ALL players that are active and contribute in anyway are almost certain to receive bonus dollars and owe their agents no commission on these bonus checks.

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