Chapter 2: Headed to Mile High

Last July, I wrote my first article titled, “Betting on Myself”, published by The Players’ Tribune. I concluded that article with this call to action: “Every athlete has the ability to be free of his or her agent. It all comes down to being willing to bet on yourself. So, fellow athletes, I encourage you to do your research. Educate yourself. Question the answers. And take ownership of your career and your livelihood.”

In the days, weeks, and months that followed, support for this endeavor has poured in. Criticism has as well. I have persevered through the negativity, working to educate myself about contract structures and processes, assessing my value, and fine-tuning my approach.

A few weeks ago, I posted a video on Facebook with the following statement:

“The days of the oblivious athlete are over. Long gone are the days of the traditional sports figure, now replaced by a sharper and smarter candidate. This process will be hard but memorable. I initially thought the decision to represent myself in upcoming contract negotiations was solely for me. To my surprise, a number of players reached out to me. They shared the same stories I have. They too, pondered the alternatives to agent representation yet remain undecided because of the uncertainty of their capacity to do so. I refuse to partake in such doubt…”

Over the past two weeks, I have visited with a handful of teams in-person. I met their front office staff, coaching staff, and several players. Everyone impressed me. Negotiating my own contract has required grit, patience, and expert counsel. Having these direct interactions showed me the kind of upstanding people leading these organizations, and it has made a notable impact on me.

Seattle has been my home for 6 years and I have loved every minute of being a Seahawk. This process has been challenging, humbling, and exhilarating. I’m proud to say I stuck with my initial promise: I bet on myself. I did the research, I educated myself, I sought the counsel of experts, and I questioned the answers. You can too. Even if you’re not a professional athlete, you can empower yourself through education, building relationships, and having confidence in your abilities to act.

160317_okung_6Choosing to represent myself has led us to today, where I proudly announce I will be wearing orange and blue next season, in Denver. Go Broncos!