In March 2010, when 2,500 Browns fans gathered to hear about receiver/returner Josh Cribbs’ future with the team, Rickert walked out with Cribbs’ new contract in his hands and the place erupted.
Their list of NFL clients — which makes up the bulk of their business, though they also represent baseball, basketball, hockey players and boxers — also includes Giants offensive lineman David Diehl. The agency represents more than 60 active NFL players. Its staff guides players on everything from whom to seek out for a second opinion on an injury to negotiating marketing deals and helping with social media accounts.
Rickert’s careers are a balance of two loves. He has been in education for 20 years and started out by teaching social studies and special education.
He began working in sports management in 2000, doing consulting work for now-partner Peter Schaffer. But Rickert, who is reluctant to talk about his day job and his business, says he likes to keep his dual roles separate, telling Success Magazine that “As a principal, I realize that I will be subject to scrutiny for my activities outside of school. I have learned to take the criticism and use it to challenge myself to become an even better principal.”
His love of sports started as a kid growing up watching his father coach basketball and football at Pennsauken High School in New Jersey. Rickert played basketball, baseball and football in high school and went on to play football at Division III St. John Fisher in Rochester.
Working with athletes as an agent allowed him to stay close to sports.
In 2003, he founded National Sports Management, which he has since left to combine efforts with Schaffer in Authentic Athletix.
His first big client was Artis Hicks, whom he represented in 2001 when he signed with the Eagles.
Rickert considers Hicks a part of his extended family, and he’s proud to say Hicks just finished his 10th season in the NFL as an offensive tackle for the Browns.
Rickert has sat with the players’ families at the weddings of Hicks, Eagles defensive lineman Mike Patterson and Jaguars quarterback Cleo Lemon.
He was in Seattle in 2008 when Jordan Babineaux, a safety for the Seahawks at the time, intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. Babineaux walked out of the locker room after the game and handed the ball to Rickert.
“(The appeal is) when you first get the chance to work with an athlete out of college and guide him through the process and play a role, and watch that player perform on the field,” Rickert says. “And you know you’ve been instrumental and had a role in that athlete’s life from the time they left college.”
He’s missed one Super Bowl in the past five years. The one in 2008.
And he’ll catch up with that Giants-Patriots matchup this time around, 12 rows away, looking for Nicks’ huge hands to reel in some business.