For Todd France, the NFL is a year-round proposition.
As one of the top player agents in the country, the 42-year-old Chastain Park resident — a 1989 graduate of Riverwood High School — is focused on football during the winter, spring and summer as well as the fall.
France is the president of Five Star Athlete Management, a five-person company headquartered in Buckhead.
Helping players fulfill their dreams is the main focus for France in his job.
“I think helping these players that have worked so hard to get where they are, to actually help get their dreams realized and maximize those opportunities is the most gratifying part of the business,” France said. “Whether it’s the [NFL] draft — seeing a player get drafted and you’ve been a part of process — or whether it’s negotiating a contract for them and changing their lives financially — there’s nothing better than that.”
About 60 NFL players are represented by France and his company, including such stars as Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, Buffalo Bills nose tackle Marcell Dareus, free agent linebacker Takeo Spikes and San Diego Chargers running back Ronnie Brown as well as Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas.
Five Star is also one of only three player agent firms in the nation to have two or more first-round picks in the NFL draft in each of the last six years.
“We’ve had everyone from Bilentikoff Award winners [for college receiver of the year], to Jim Thorpe Award winners [for college defensive back of the year] to [BCS national] championship game MVPs, first-team All-Americans, Pro Bowlers once they’re in the league,” France said. “We have a great client list.”
France’s career developed at Atlanta-based Career Sports Management, where he started in 1994 after graduating from Alabama with a degree in advertising in 1993.
“I started out in the sports marketing side, making deals for athletes off the field, and that evolved into actually negotiating their contracts and I grew it from there.
After nearly a decade at Career Sports Management, France formed his own company — France Athlete Management Enterprises — in 2003, starting with 17 NFL players among his client list.
“I thought it was the right thing to do at the time,” he said. “I’m glad that I did it. I was able to build something I thought exactly how it should be built, to represent players in the exact way that I thought should be represented.”
France’s company received a boost when it was bought by billionaire Terry Pegula, the owner of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, and his wife Kim in December 2011 and was renamed Five Star Athletic Management.
“It’s great having them as partners,” France said. “It gives us a lot more resources to really take care of these players, to offer them things we couldn’t necessarily offer them when we were on our own. For whether it would be life after football and the contacts we provide or any other source of protection where they handle their business the right way, it’s a great resource to have any time you can be connected to somebody like that.”
France heads a staff that includes Director of Client Services Julie Hoffman, Vice President of Operations Jennifer Thatcher, Agent Bryan Ayrault and Contract Specialist Rich Hurtado.
“It’s not just me,” France said. “I have a great support staff. We have a lot of good agents in this office, great people who help with contracts, great people that do [public relations], marketing, client services, taking care of the players day by day. It’s a great team effort.”