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ESPN analyst shares career path with USF audience

ESPN football analyst Andrew Brandt says his career has been a series of doors closing and opening.

One of those doors, he told an audience at USF's Marshall Student Center Oval Theater on Wednesday night, was his opportunity to take a job with the Green Bay Packers. At the time, Brandt's job as a sports agent was in jeopardy because his client, then-NFL superstar Ricky Williams, was looking to switch agencies.

Then, out of the blue, he got a call from the Packers. They wanted him as the new general manager of the team because they were impressed with his ability to negotiate without making enemies.

Brandt said his first question was, "no offense," but did he need to move to Wisconsin to do the job?

"No offense taken," they told him, "but yes."

"So I convinced my wife to move to Green Bay, Wisconsin," Brandt said. "That was quite the negotiation."

Brandt, who went on to spend nine and a half years with the Packers, was the third of four speakers in the inaugural USF Sport Lecture Series, presented by FOX Sports Florida and hosted by the Sport & Entertainment Management Program. The Sport & Entertainment Management Program is in its second year at USF, offering a path for students to gain their MBAs and gain experience through internships with partner organizations -- including the Tampa Bay Lightning, which is the sponsor of the program.

Brandt's career went through several incarnations, including a shortlived career as a small-time tennis pro, law school at Georgetown University, sports agent, general manager of the NFL World League's Barcelona Dragons, the GM job with the Packers, and now as an ESPN analyst and lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.

Brandt spoke at length about the serious challenges facing the NFL, including concussions, salary caps, and player character issues, in addition to the often amusing turns that his career took. He joked that he took the Barcelona job because he had "taken Spanish in high school" before realizing the language of Barcelona was Catalan.

"I had taken a job to run a team where I had no players, no stadium, no staff," he said of the Barcelona Dragons experience.

Kayla Chesanek, a student in the Sport & Entertainment Management MBA program, said she was impressed by Brandt's willingness to take risks.

"He was able to have so many careers," she said. "The most inspiring thing was his attitude toward sports and being open to the opportunities that came by."

Brandt said he hoped that students could take something from his lecture, and that he had come to USF to give back some of his knowledge of the sports industry.

"I know I'm not curing cancer up here," he joked, "but it may be instructive how doors opened for me, and I know everyone wants to know how doors open for them."