Tiffany Porter is surrounded by men in her industry. And most of these men are 250-pound professional athletes. But even though Porter may be petite by comparison, she is a powerhouse as an NFL agent.
Porter’s resume is an interesting and diverse read. She was a student-athlete, graduated from Hampton University with a degree in music vocal performance. She later attended Emory University School of Law on a scholarship, and at the same time, Georgia State University accepted her into their MBA program. She did both. Porter was a professional cheerleader for the Atlanta Chiefs, and today she is an attorney and NFL agent.
The married mother of four also served as President of the Black Law Students Association and clerked for Chief Justice Robert Benham of the Georgia Supreme Court. She started her career as a Criminal Defense attorney before creating the successful Porter Whitner Law Group, LLC in Atlanta with her friend and sorority sister Tadia Whitner. In 2013, Porter, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, launched Zenith Sports and Entertainment Group, a full-service sports and entertainment agency. She began practicing law in 2005 and started her own practice in 2009.
Now as an agent, Porter operates with one main goal in mind–to help professional athletes build their brand and protect their finances for the future. Keeping in mind the shocking stat that 80 percent of former NFL players go bankrupt or broke within two-five years after they have stopped playing or have retired, Porter wants to not only get her clients the best deal but also educate them on how to handle their money.
It wasn’t easy growing up for Porter. She and her younger siblings were raised by her grandmother and great-grandmother when their mother went to federal prison over drug charges. Porter was also diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29; she opted for a double mastectomy as treatment,
Now in good health, Porter is focused on her career as an NFL agent, and she told MadameNoire why this was a career choice long in the making.
MadameNoire (MN): You’ve been a professional cheerleader, a lawyer, and now an NFL agent. How did you make all these career moves?
Tiffany Porter (TP): Well, I have always been in sports and these careers are actually all connected. Since I was a track and field athlete and then a professional cheerleader, I understand some of the stresses, trials, and tribulations, and concerns faced by athletes. As a lawyer, I worked with professional athletes on contracts, and now as an agent, I not only get to negotiate deals but I am also able to approach it with a deeper understanding as to what an athlete needs and wants. I got into this because of my love of sports and my goal to help athletes better manage their money.
MN: Why do you feel so many professional athletes go broke?
TP: Working as a lawyer, some of my clients were NFL players who were broke and didn’t have any kind of goals or aspirations for life after football. A lot of these guys just didn’t have the right people in their circle. A lot of these guys come from low-income backgrounds and this is the first time they have had to deal with so much money. They just don’t know what to do and they have people around them who either try to take advantage or don’t know either.
MN: How do you help them?
TP: I help my clients build a brand and to keep their money. I try to get them to look and prepare financially for life after sports. There will come a day when they have to leave sports as an athlete and they need to be financially prepared and have other ways to generate an income. I try to get them to think about their legacy.
MN: Most NFL agents are men. Did you find any challenges in such a male-dominated industry?
TP: I have to say I didn’t face many. On the NFL side, all of the GMs and all the scouts are men–it’s all men. The agents, most of them are men, so when you come in, you have to really know your stuff. I always make sure I know my stuff. Early on a team owner took me under his wing and I got to see inside of the corporate side of sports and the negotiations that go on. But I do have to say as a woman, you have to stick to business–and you have to let others know you are just there for business. Sometimes still I get mistaken as an aunt or a girlfriend of the player.
MN: What made you want to go into business for yourself?
TP: I always wanted to have my own business and be a role model for other young women. As a young girl, I would make things to sell. In college, I was a Mary Kay Cosmetics rep. So I always had the entrepreneur spirit.
MN: What’s next?
TP: I want to continue to grow my brand. I am opening a basketball division to represent NBA athletes. I will also continue to work to inspire other young women, to help empower them to take on any career they want to.