Ralph Cindrich’s NFL Brawler is a hoot! Cindrich is a former professional football player who made it to the big time as a sports agent. In his memoir, which is really too polished a name for this raucous book, Cindrich tells tale after wonderful tale about growing up in Southwestern Pennsylvania and taking on the world. There is a great warmth when he talks about his family and community, and he clearly loved many of his clients. Still, NFL Brawler is the perfect title, because Cindrich takes on life as a contact sport. His stories of playing in college and then in the NFL are fascinating for sports junkies, but even sports novices will learn a lot about this very crazy industry. As a player, he figured out early on what it would take to stay on NFL rosters, even if he didn’t possess star talent. More importantly, Cindrich started thinking early about what he would do when his football career ended, and attended law school in Texas while still in the league. He moved his practice back to PIttsburgh after his football career ended and embarked on a colorful career as an agent for professional football players. His player roster primarily consisted of linemen, and it was interesting to see how he built his business. It was all about relationships — solid relationships with his players and cantankerous relationships with management.
Along the way, NFL Brawler, tells wonderfully profane stories about all sorts of colorful football characters. The players come across as much nicer than management, but then he is a player’s agent. Cindrich’s war stories about negotiating with NFL teams are highly entertaining and instructive. Even if you don’t like football, his negotiation strategies are worth the read. Basically, he knew his market, he knew his opponents and he often created leverage out of apparent weakness. Much of his career happened before free agency and the dollars seem low by today’s standards, but Cindrich is larger than life! I would LOVE to see him go head-to-head with Roger Goodell. Seriously.
This is a great read, particularly for football season. Ralph Cindrich doesn’t waste much time on reflection, he just rears back and tells a hell of a story, with a great deal of warmth and precious few apologies.