Dandy’s Hard Work and Perseverance Shine on NFL’s Biggest Stage
By Garret Mitchell
*This is part two of our feature highlighting the life and accomplishments of former Woodruff student-athlete Tory Dandy, one of the NFL’s most successful player agents.
Tory Dandy watched intently from his first-row seat at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium on February 2 as the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers in one of the most thrilling NFL championship games in recent memory.
For most, attending a Super Bowl is a bucket list item that never gets checked. For Dandy, it was business as usual and his spot amidst the pomp and circumstance of the NFL’s culminating showcase was hard-earned and a long time coming.
Dandy, currently one of the most successful player agents in the NFL with Creative Artists Agency, LLC where he has been for almost four years, represents clients who played for both teams in the 54th Super Bowl. It was not always that way, however. It had been a long road from his days at South Carolina State University, choosing an alternate career path from that of a player, and trying to find a foothold in a profession that he says was not as accepting as it is now.
“I was young,” Dandy. “When representing multi-million-dollar athletes age was a factor for sure. Families want to know you have the ability to (represent your clients) and also, even back then, it’s more accepted now, but being an African American agent was something that you had to overcome and let people know and see that yes, I’m young and black, but I’m competent to be able to get the job done. Those were the two major hurdles that I had to overcome.”
Youthful exuberance has never been a problem for Dandy, however. Perhaps a challenge at the onset of his career, Dandy quickly learned to use his age as an advantage when it came to signing new clients.
“I certainly feel the relatability standpoint allowed me to connect with those guys, being around their age starting out,” he said. “I also have to recognize my mentor who I worked with for 13 years, a legend in the industry by the name of Eugene Parker, who basically took me under his wing and taught me the game and taught me the ropes and how to be professional. He taught me how to do this job with morals, character, and integrity. So along with being able to relate to guys and being young, I was also taught the right way to approach the business and help the business.”
Helping Dandy as well were his experiences and lessons learned from his days as a young, teenage father. The maturity and responsibility Dandy acquired early on was pivotal in allowing him to mentor his young, often impressionable, clients.
“Some of my clients now are becoming fathers, and even though they might not be 16 years old like I was, they are still young men,” Dandy said. “Just being able to mentor and give them some wisdom that I might not necessarily have had at that time in my life, about fatherhood and growing in fatherhood, I think it helps for sure.”
Dandy’s down-home personality and South Carolina roots have helped attract many of the game’s bright young stars. Now a senior executive with CAA, Dandy represents the likes of former Clemson stars Sammy Watkins, Mike Williams and Shaq Lawson. Offensive tackle Martinas Rankin, former Chapman High School and University of South Carolina star Deebo Samuel, and recent Carolina Panthers wide receiver signee Robby Anderson are also among his clients.
Williams, Lawson, and, most recently, Samuel, are among Dandy’s clients that were born and raised in the Palmetto State.
On Super Bowl Sunday it was the 49ers’ Samuel, and the Chiefs’ Rankin and Watkins that Dandy was there to support. It was a representation of Dandy’s willingness to start from the bottom and transform himself into an example of success through hard work and dedication.
Representing local kids, however, is a passion for Dandy.
“I’ve known Deebo all throughout high school and followed his career in college as well, but I knew his parents and his family long before Deebo became a star. So, I look at Deebo not only as a client, but as family.”
Still, Dandy wants to be able to give back to his hometown.
For several years he hosted the Tory Dandy Fun Day at Woodruff High School, bringing home many of his superstar clients to Woodruff to direct skill drills, a day of football instruction, and an autograph session for the youth of Woodruff at W.L. Varner Stadium where Dandy was once a star himself.
Bringing back the fun day event is something Dandy would like to do, along with continuing to grow his charitable foundation.
“I started the Tory Dandy Foundation about seven years ago and to date we have awarded 10 scholarships to high school seniors,” he said. “I want to continue with that. I think my platform with where I’m at now allows me to continue to have resources to reach back and pour back into my hometown which I’m always going to do.”
Dandy added, “I haven’t done the fun day event in a couple of years but I’m really thinking about bringing that back, but certainly, my clients, they had a great time giving back to my hometown but also interacting with the young people and showing them, hey, we once sat in your same seat. We come from similar backgrounds.”
With as much as he has already accomplished, and continues to accomplish, Dandy still has big dreams in store. Never one to rest on his laurels, Dandy wants to continue advancing in a profession that has transformed and built him into the successful man he is today.
“I’m considered one of the top agents in all of football and I take great pride in that,” said Dandy. “I think on the professional level, I could see myself very soon potentially running CAA football and continuing to be a high-level executive. With my foundation I want to continue to build that and give back more. I live in Charlotte and I want to give back more to Charlotte as well, but also my hometown.”
Dandy’s motto is “Faith, Focus, Finish” which he has used as the mantra for all he has accomplished, from the playing fields of Woodruff, to the brightest lights of the NFL’s biggest stadiums.
Dandy, however, is not going to be finished anytime soon. For him, the best is yet to come.
“I just want to work hard and make everybody proud,” he said. “I want to make my mother proud, my daughters proud, and my family proud. That makes me happy.”