Dr. Jerry Argovitz

Dr. Jerry Argovitz

A Force in Sports Management and Franchise Ownership

An early advocate and warrior for player’s rights-Visionary Dr. Jerry Argovitz is a name that resonates throughout the NFL sports world, especially in the area of players’ rights and free agency. His contributions to the industry, as a sports agent, football team owner, and more, have left an indelible mark on professional sports, notably in the realm of football. This book provides a comprehensive overview of Argovitz’s career, influence and how he transformed players rights and the way the game of football is played.

Early life & career

A Texas native, Dr. “Jerry” Argovitz, was born and raised in Borger Texas, which at the time included approximately 20,000 residents including six Jewish families and one of those families was his. His maternal grandparents were Polish immigrants who came to the United States seeking opportunity and a better life. They utilized their work ethics, entrepreneurial spirit, and good-hearted ambition to help others by opening a country mercantile to provide for the local farmers and residents who were struggling during the Depression.

Argovitz grew up in the family business but when he wasn’t working in the mercantile, he was facing bullies in the streets on his way home from school which is where he learned how to fight. He trained to fight professionally in the ring and later, out of the ring for his clients going into the NFL. His first-hand experience of discrimination was a benchmark that fueled Argovitz to later become protective of the underdog and was inspired to judge others on their character, not color. He initially pursued a career in precision dentistry, graduating from the University of Houston. Although Argovitz was successful as a dentist both financially and in patient satisfaction, land development was calling his name and was less stressful and required fewer patient emergencies.

After being both a dentist and real estate land developer, he hung up his drill for football and became an agent in helping young athletes to realize their dreams. This path greatly impacted the NFL and transformed the lives of its players and the game of football.

Sports Agent

Argovitz’s journey into the world of professional sports began in the 1980s when he transitioned from a dentist into the role of a sports agent. Argovitz represented numerous professional football players, effectively negotiating significant contracts. This was a time when the landscape of sports agencies was changing, and Argovitz was at the forefront of these shifts, advocating for the players’ rights.

Argovitz was known for his strategic and shrewd negotiation skills. One of his significant career milestones was when he represented running back Billy Sims, the first overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft, securing him an impressive contract with the Detroit Lions. His clientele included other high-profile NFL stars such as Jim McMahon, Herschel Walker, Jim Kelly, Hugh Green, Butch Woolfolk, and 35 other top players whom he represented ensuring highly successful careers in the game of football.

Dr Jerry Argovitz

USFL and the Houston Gamblers

Houston Gamblers HelmetIn the early 1980s, Argovitz stepped into the world of team ownership. He was one of the founding owners of the United States Football League (USFL), a professional football league that competed with the National Football League (NFL). Argovitz owned the Houston Gamblers, one of the twelve teams that participated in the league, and later went on to become the business partner of Donald Trump in the ownership of the USFL’s New Jersey Generals.

Empowered with an instinct for talent and driven by results, Argovitz hired the first black general manager Gene Burrough, and four black assistant coaches who helped lead the Houston Gamblers to victory.

The USFL had a different business model than the NFL, with a more player-centric approach and a spring-summer schedule, which Argovitz believed could offer new opportunities for players while serving cutting-edge programming to the football-hungry viewers. Though the league only lasted for three seasons, from 1983 to 1985, it is credited with forcing the NFL towards free agency and  making player and game-centric changes that exist today including rules such as Two Point Conversion and Instant Replay

Argovitz’s influence on The Houston Gamblers revolutionized the passing game. The Gamblers were particularly notable for their offensive game, the “Run and Shoot” offense, masterminded by coach Mouse Davis. This style of play has been subsequently incorporated into various offensive strategies in football leagues since then.

Post-USFL Career and Legacy

Jerry Argovitz’s impact on professional sports, particularly football, has been profound. His approach to player representation forever changed the dynamics of contract negotiations, securing better deals and support for the players before and after the game of football. His ownership of the Houston Gamblers and role in the creation of the USFL challenged the traditional NFL model, leading to significant changes in professional football.

While his ventures might not have all resulted in long-term success, the influence they exerted on the industry cannot be underestimated. Argovitz’s career is a testament to the power of innovation and the importance of advocating for player rights in professional sports, themes that continue to resonate in today’s sports landscape. He will always be remembered as a trailblazer, whose bold decisions and strategic acumen left a lasting legacy in the world of sports management and franchise ownership.