Most prominent NFL agents spend their offseason on the phone, on the back porch, or on the golf course.
Joe Linta spends it on the sideline.
The agent, whose list of 40 clients includes Baltimore Ravens' quarterback Joe Flacco, moonlights as the head football coach at Hamden Hall Country Day (Conn.) School.
"This is my hobby," he says. "I don't know much in my life, but I do know football."
Linta took the Hamden Hall job at the end of April, creating a superagent/high school coach combo, which may sound like a strange occupational mix -- and a questionable one.
In the wake of a scandal-laden high school and college sports offseason, an agent hanging around student-athletes sounds suspicious. After all, why is it wrong for college athletes to interact with agents but high school kids can be coached by one?
Linta, however, waves it off.
"If you saw this team, you'd understand," he says. "I'm not talking to my players about representation."
So he promises to leave the shop talk (and any conflicts of interest) at the office.
The real reason Linta took the job is probably less about wooing future clients and more about coaching his two sons, rising sophomore T.J. and junior Nick.
"He wanted to coach us in high school," Nick Linta says. "He calls it a 'bucket list thing.'"
In fact, if you meet Linta, you realize he's less of an agent posing as a football coach and more of a football coach with a day job as an agent.
"He's coached before," says Brian Hoyer, the Patriots' backup quarterback. "He's not your average agent."
Linta's coaching job goes from August to November -- the slowest time in the agent business. Most of JL Sports' recruiting and negotiating typically occurs from late November to June. That should allow Linta, 51, to lead Hamden Hall, a prestigious, academically-oriented prep school, during its centennial season, which starts this weekend.
Linta's coaching acumen convinced the school to select him over two other candidates who were Hamden Hall alums.
"He's got a great football background," says Hamden Hall headmaster Bob Izzo. "He has all of the ingredients to be a great leader of high school kids."
Linta played defensive tackle at Yale University, which is just two miles away from Hamden Hall. He then coached at the University of New Haven for two years and Yale for seven before becoming an NFL-licensed agent.
That football experience separates him from most agents.
As a senior at Michigan State, Hoyer said he felt pretty good about his performance during a victory. But Linta called him and told him he missed a couple of throws and described how he could develop better timing with his receivers.
That's typical Linta. Unlike many agents who sugarcoat clients, he delivered harsh yet accurate criticism.
His football knowledge -- particularly of the quarterback position -- helped convince Hoyer to sign with him.
"It was definitely one of the big reasons," Hoyer says.
Linta's coaching also helped mold son Nick into an effective long snapper. He instructed Nick to keep his butt down and shoulders back while moving his hips with the snap.
Linta's football smarts and leadership skills came across during the Hamden Hall interview process.
"We didn't hire him just to have somebody come down from the NFL and sign autographs," says former Hamden Hall athletic director Bud Kohler. "He’s a perfect role model."
One of Linta's goals is to instill life lessons. Calling public speaking a "paramount thing in society," he has his players deliver a speech on a random topic during the first week of practice.
He also has a no swearing rule. Any curse word likely will result in the running of a "vulgarity lap." If a student curses in a grammatically incorrect way, Linta jokes, the player will run two laps.
Hamden Hall finished 6-2 last year, but Linta wants to expand the schedule to 10 games, including an exciting potential matchup against St. Paul Catholic (Conn.) High the night before Thanksgiving.
"We're really trying to ramp it up," he says, sounding like an agent -- for the school.
So what happens if Flacco or Hoyer or another client needs him during Hamden's season?
Linta has a backup. And a good one. His defensive coordinator, Mark Stoute is the assistant head coach of the Arena Football League Milwaukee Mustangs. He has more than a decade and a half of pro coaching experience.
"If I croak or have to travel for a day," Linta says, "I know he can take over."
Also, Linta describes his main occupation as a phone call job where very few things cannot wait an hour -- or until after practice ends.
And besides, Hamden Hall is the smallest Connecticut school to field an 11-man varsity football team. This isn't Eric Taylor of Friday Night Lights in Dillon, Texas.
The prep school has a total preschool-12th grade enrollment of just 570, and Linta has only 30 boys on the varsity football team.
And now that the lockout is settled, there's nothing to worry about. But Linta even had a plan for that.
The Bears' fifth-round rookie draft pick, quarterback Nathan Enderle, offered to help at football camp. Hoyer lives just two hours away from the school and would have been receptive to working with Linta as well.
"Maybe he'll hire me," Hoyer said during the lockout. "I might need a job."
So perhaps the diciest issue for Linta is coaching his own kids. But he's coached Nick and T.J. since their youth league days. He says he never showed favoritism nor singled them out for punishment. At Hamden Hall he vows to treat them the same as the other players.
"The only time I'm going to be a dad to them is when they get hurt," Linta says. "God forbid."
After his kids graduate, Linta jokes he will serve as an offensive coordinator at whatever college they choose.
"I'm scared to death of the empty nest," Linta said. "I want to enjoy every day here. I want to make sure that when I’m in a wheelchair in five years that I don’t have any regrets."
The responsibilities of Linta’s day job, of course, will keep him from following his kids to the next level.
But should they somehow make it all the way to the NFL, Drew Rosenhaus might as well shift his sights elsewhere.
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