(Pictured L to R: George Selvie, Deryk Gilmore, Gary Brown)
by Scott Bischoff
There is very little that, when encumbered by our darkness, helps as much as being of service to others, aiding them to find some light. Recognizing an obligation to assist others is a balm for the soul, weary and yearning to find purpose. There are moments in one’s life when leaning into our faith is something that feels necessary at the moment, and upon reflection, becomes a gift from God.
Deryk Gilmore is an NFL agent and has been around football his entire life, from player to coach to agent, and he is truly fantastic at what he does. When describing his troubles last year with losing his agent certification, he expressed the sentiments that his difficulties pushed him to focus on his faith, family, and helping others. That faith ultimately helped him get closer to God and get back his certification in September of 2019.
Gilmore, an agent since 2005, ventured out on his own in 2017, starting Day 1 Sports and Entertainment. He is specifically driven to use his values and understanding of the game to help his clients’ dreams become their reality. He has been tremendously successful in being proactive, getting out in front of situations, and confronting them with intelligence and integrity.
Gilmore, along with many other agents, was most frustrated with a new certification testing procedure because it assessed written questions on the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, not real-world experience or competency as an agent – which is immeasurable on a written test.
Gilmore had proven his abilities to perform with proficiency when his clients needed him the most – whether it be dispelling the narrative that D.J. Fluker was not mobile, highlighting Mike Evans’ catch radius, or something as ridiculously simple as showing a team a player speaks English well, as was the case with Haloti Ngata. Gilmore’s goal has been to identify concerns and address them. Football pedigree and building relationships with not only the players but NFL personnel have been Gilmore’s strengths.
His mother raised Gilmore after his father passed away when he was three years old. His mother was a constant throughout his life, and he took care of her with his cousin Deontia’s help until she passed away in January of 2018.
During this devastating time, Gilmore was required to take the recertification test. This surprised him because he had not been asked to take a test of any kind for approximately 15 years. Once he found out he failed the test by one question, the shock settled in, and he felt that his faith was being challenged.
There was a spiritual awakening as this situation evolved, but in the midst of that, there was also work to do. He spent the next few months fighting the results and working on getting reinstated while re-centering his life on his faith. With his future in doubt, Gilmore dug in, and over time he learned that he needed to ask God what the message was – “What are you trying to tell me?”
He found comfort in weekly Bible study, Joel Osteen’s daily message, and listening to Marvin Sapp. He realized the best way to honor his mom was giving back. He and his wife created three scholarships to honor their parents. He found light in his faith and the team that surrounded him.
Gilmore started calling his clients to inform them of what was happening, and immediately he had support. Two general managers contacted the league on his behalf. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans wrote a letter to the league in his defense. Former players and clients of Gilmore’s, Geoff Schwartz and Brandon Frye, also sent letters in support of the work Gilmore had always done. He was humbled when he understood he had made genuine friendships through his work.
He also learned that it was essential to know who was in the battle with him, and who was not. Gilmore’s wife, Camille Chang Gilmore, and his business partner Amanda White were tremendous in their faith and belief in him. They helped him to see that he needed to focus on his current clients, refusing to allow anything to get in the way of their needs or offseason programs. He came to understand that he needed to trust that God had his back through everything and that His plan is the best plan.
His conversations with his clients were important as they put a plan together for each. It was a stressful time for everyone, but he was able to get each of them taken care of while he was forced to sit the year out.
One exchange with Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman D.J. Fluker stands out to him. Gilmore had sent him text messages of encouragement throughout his career, and Fluker sent him one in return this time. The text was a bible verse, and Gilmore has used it as his mantra daily. The text said, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11.
New England Patriots offensive lineman Shaq Mason told him he was “his guy” and he was going nowhere. Gilmore felt amazingly blessed to be so supported, but he was still fighting uphill.
Other agents were now in the mix, and players had to make tough choices. Some left him as he was unable to work on their behalf, and contracts were due, or they were in a difficult situation with their team, which required a plan. As one client said, “I need you, and if it’s not you, I have to find someone like you – but I’ll be back when you’re back.” Gilmore understood and respected the decisions each of them made and tremendously appreciated those who stuck with him through the rough patch.
While some agents were working to flip his clients, others were actively working to help Gilmore. It is a very competitive industry, and some of the people coming to his aid took him by surprise. Peter Schaffer brought support from other agents, Jon Herbst’s legal counsel was invaluable, and former colleagues Mike McCartney and Kyle Dolan’s loyalty was unmatched. Cathy Bowman helped Gilmore with his preparation for the next exam. Bowman had not previously met Gilmore, and it was another agent who told her the story, and she sought him out to help.
During the struggles, Gilmore came to see that when God was closing a door, he was opening another one, even if it was “hell in the hallway” as he puts it. Gilmore started to prepare differently and to see things differently. Gilmore sees the positives that came out of the situation, as he was able to spend the year focusing on his veteran players and enjoying his family.
He got back on track in regards to helping his clients prepare for life after football, aiding them in cultivating relationships and planting seeds for what comes after their football career. La’el Collins got his trucking business going, and D.J. Fluker opened an automotive shop. Gilmore has come away from it all with a firm belief that he wants to recruit the type of players who hold his values and those that love the game of football, and he feels extremely confident in his future success to come.
Gilmore was recently recertified and has learned valuable lessons while going through this process. He feels that he will be a much better agent in the end, and he feels blessed to get back to working for his guys. He has begun to resign all of his clients and picked up a new one as recently as last week. There was a celebration among Gilmore and his group, and Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle La’el Collins said it best after he signed his new deal: “Deryk, you my agent for life!”