NFL veteran Tony Simmons offers great advice for players planning to play in Europe.
Tony Simmons is a multi-year veteran of the NFL, CFL and European leagues.
He offers solid advice on contracts.
There will be a point, while you are on Europlayers and suddenly you have a team interested and they are sending a contract to sign. What a great feeling. You finally get to travel and play ball in Spain, for example. You start deciding what to take and pack. The contract is on its way. SPAIN HERE I COME…
Well STOP and THINK FIRST. You will be an ambassador to any country you travel to but you must make sure you are protected through your contract and that it will be enforced. Your contract is what makes you different from every other player on the team. They pay to play, you get paid to play. So here is a check list of contract must haves to protect you, so you can have a good season and not have to worry about the linguistics of your contract. Everything should be in WRITING ALWAYS. ALL CONTRACT CHANGES SHOULD BE IN WRITING. Just protect yourself.
CONTRACT MUST HAVES
Team: TBD VERY IMPORTANT MUST HAVES: Contract period: TBD (one season or long term deal) Salary: TBD Euros per month after taxes are paid. Visa and work permit, health insurance, accommodations, round trip flights, wired or wireless internet, cell phone (prepaid phone must be paid for by team), travel to and from all team events(i.e. practice, games, team community events, etc) Negotiable items in your contract: I prefer a job in the town I play for. It helps with community work and team promotions. You look good not only playing/coaching for the team but the community views you as a more than just an American player/coach. If you are offered a job, ask if it is guaranteed or just talk? If it is guaranteed, make sure it is in your contract. Meals paid for? Vehicles? Anything else you deem important to you. If all your must haves are ACCEPTED, make sure your must haves are in your contract. o Contract period/length o Salary – ask the team if they have proof that they can pay you the money they are offering. Is it in an account that I can see? If you are worried, try this, first and last month’s salary upfront so you know you have been paid when it is time to leave. Just like renting an apartment. If you do not ask, how will you know? Various ways to make sure you get paid all your money. You can guarantee salary regardless what happens in the season it must be paid to you before you leave the country. Again, if you do not ask, how will you know? o Visa and Work permit – the club must arrange that so get them so them to start ASAP!! Without a visa and work permit, you are working illegally. o Health Insurance - ask the club how health insurance works in that country? Do you need an insurance card or just walk into a hospital, etc? o Accommodations o Round trip flights – to the team and return home include in your round trip flights all changes of flights paid by team. o Wired or wireless internet connection – laptop connection so you can stay connected online. Download Skype or other messengers. o Cell phone – shut your mobile phone off. You will thank me for this. Have the team offer you a prepaid phone and they pay for the service to keep you connected with them. Or you can check your mobile company for the international cell phone rates. Trust me that will be a high bill. If you want to call back home, get a MagicJack. Very cheap and affordable and your family and friends can call you through the computer just have a microphone available. o Travel to/from practice – bus, vehicle, whatever means. You are there for a job and you have to get to practice and other events so make sure you have a way there. Make sure the team has this covered. o Vehicles - everyone does not get this luxury but if you do be careful, the US laws and European laws do differ so make sure you understand them. o Meals – If you get the salary you wanted and meals paid for, you have negotiated a decent contract. Salary and meals can go hand and hand. Higher salary, no meals or lower salary, 3 meals. It all depends on you. I prefer my meals being paid for but I would do it and take a lower salary. Trust me I eat a lot so the work here is NEGOTIATE. o Your responsibilities as a player/coach or coach o Team responsibilities o Personal expectations you have of the team o Team expectations you have of the team o Ask about team management and the structure is it a corporation or a bunch of guys just playing ball? Is it a board or team makes the decisions? MOST THINGS IN A CONTRACT ARE NEGOTIABLE. SOME ITEMS ARE NOT. THIS IS TO PROTECT YOU. Make sure you enforce your contract and/or make it known that they are breaking your contract. Ask question to other players that have played or still playing overseas. We are all on Europlayers to continue our careers and make new friends on the way. Everyone will have a different experience playing overseas. Just ask any of the veterans and we will be honest. Trust me. Some experiences are funny and some are serious. Take it for what it is worth and make your decision from there. If you need help, contact me on Europlayers or through my blog at www.6pointathletics.com. I will be glad to help you understand what to expect on journey overseas. If I do not know the answer, I probably know someone who does.
Tony Simmons – is a European football veteran, NFL, NFLE, CFL and Arena Football League. He is Founder of 6 Point Athletics, a sports performance company encompassing strength, speed and conditioning for individuals and teams.