Shawn Smith on Saturday greeted client and Giants tight end Kevin Boss with a gift box loaded with cheese, sausage and crackers, a gift bag with fresh-baked cookies and an apple pie with the Giants logo on the crust. Her mom baked it.
There were hugs from her children and conversation as a Christmas tree twinkled from the corner. Granted, it was a hotel lobby. The surroundings were an afterthought.
“It’s definitely nice to have some family away from home,” Boss said.
Smith, 39, whose maiden name is Thorson, said the idea of family has been integral into how she and her husband, Scott, run their Madison-based business.
The Smith family made their holiday trip to Kaukauna and by nature of the NFL schedule, also made the drive to Appleton’s Paper Valley Hotel where Boss joined his team for the evening stay.
Scott Smith has been a sports agent for eight years. Shawn and Scott founded X-A-M Sports six years ago. Shawn Smith has a background in public relations and handles marketing and media relations for the players under their umbrella.
Many think of the clubs, the cocktails, the glitz and the glam when imagining face-to-face meetings between players and their agents.
“There is that,” Shawn said, “but it’s a small percentage.”
They’ve done things a bit differently. Consider Christmas night in Appleton. Boss originally planned to take in Christmas dinner with Shawn’s family in Kaukauna. However, team activities got in the way.
Instead, the Smiths brought a little bit of holiday cheer through the hotel’s automatic doors.
Giants guard Rich Seubert walked past as Boss and the Smiths shared some banter. Son, Max, 8, got a handshake, but mom intervened before 3-year-old Manny could do the same. He had just been rummaging through Boss’ box of snacks.
Seubert, a Marshfield native, didn’t mind. “It’s Wisconsin,” he said. “You’re supposed to have cheese and sausage hands.”
The Smiths moved from Colorado to Wisconsin when they started their business. Family and business often intermingle.
As such, they draw a certain type of clientele. They represent 22 NFL players as well as players in the Canadian and United football leagues. The athletes they work with are often the kind who, like Boss, don’t mind a hug from Max or Manny. Both wore Boss road jerseys Saturday.
When it comes down to the nitty, gritty business world of the NFL, she said, they’ll “go toe to toe” with agencies working out of New York or Los Angeles.