Toi Cook, former NFL player, has adjusted to life after the big leagues very well. While some athletes struggle in managing their money and business opportunities after playing professionally, Toi has done exactly the opposite. After playing 11 years of professional football Toi now operates two thriving businesses; Empire Sports and Toi Cook Management Group. As an NFL player Cook had plenty of hands on experience with sports agents and is now on the “other side of the mirror” with Toi Cook Management Group. As the owner of this management firm Cook specializes in utilizing the connections he has made throughout his professional football career to help college football players reach their maximum potential. Guiding them with his past knowledge as well as professional network Cook works to situate college football players into the NFL draft, negotiate contract agreements and mentor up-and-coming athletes. On the other hand, as president of Empire Sports, Cook uses his background in entertainment to oversee this production company. As a child, Cook was always around television sets as his father worked as a professional cameraman. Cook mentioned, “early on I learned to turn connections into transactions.” By having a proactive mindset in the business workforce Cook is in the midst of closing a deal with Spike TV that will be airing a show on the well-acclaimed entertainment network. Cook is a true professional, showing grit, determination, a never complacent attitude and proving the value of leveraging connections and contacts.
Q: As a former NFL player dealing with agents, what is the main difference you see in the business now that you are on the other side?
A: Nowadays you have more social media, avenues, more sophistication in terms of agencies because there are more agents in the market, more competition, most players think they’re first round picks and believe they’re going higher in the draft.
Q: On another note, what would you say are the main qualities or skills needed to run an entertainment business such as Empire Sports.
A: Constantly ask yourself, how do you turn connections into transactions. My dad was cameraman; I grew up in entertainment business on television sets. You have to be a networker; it’s not about what you know, but who you know.
Q: What are some of the major roadblocks you run into with the management firm?
A: Distance, getting agencies and players on the phone can be difficult. Competing with local agencies is difficult because they have better access to local athletes.
Q: What are your most memorable moments in your sports career?
A: My interception in Super Bowl XXIX 29, also being up 21-0 in the Super Bowl in the first quarter. Playing in the baseball College World Series at Stanford and winning the first one ever for Stanford in 1987. Being inducted to the Stanford Hall of Fame. Also bringing all my belongings to my first training camp with the Saints (NFL team), most people don’t bring much because of the fear of being cut. I brought everything; my TV, my clothes, everything… I was there to stay.
Dylan Glicksman, Gladeo League Blogger