On behalf of Access Athletes, we would like to thank Richard for taking the time out of his busy schedule to participate in this interview.
“All I want to do is make pizza.”
Not the phrase you’d expect to hear out of the mouth of a respected life insurance provider to some of America’s best athletes.
“You know I joke around and say that I’m the owner of a pizza shop and all I want to do is make pizza. I don’t want to be a player as a financial advisor. I don’t want to be their accountant. I don’t want to be their concierge. I don’t want to do those things. I want to do my job and I ask everyone else to do theirs and I’ll do mine.”
Richard “Big Daddy” Salgado is onto something. He is where he is because he’s been in and around the NFL for fifteen years. Currently, as the president of Coastal Advisors LLC, an insurance consulting firm for high net worth individuals, professionals, and athletes, “Big Daddy” is a well-known name on the sidelines and in the locker room.
When I spoke to him, he was heading out to the Hamptons for some R&R. He was returning from a meeting up at Syracuse University with client and Head Football Coach Doug Marrone. He’d been at the NHL Draft a few weeks prior. He was gearing up for a trip to the west coast for MLB All-Star Weekend and the ESPY Awards. This guy is everywhere, but that is what makes him so visible, so available to athletes who may not even think about insuring their livelihoods.
“Guys look at you like you’re crazy. They say, ‘I’m not going to die!’ So most people ask me first thing, 'What do you do?' when they see me around all the time. And then ‘Ok, who do you do it with? And why do you do it?’ And then I usually get a current client to speak to them and they explain to them why I’m the best at what I do.”
Simple? Hardly. “Big Daddy”, who was given his nickname by a former college teammate, has developed a solid network of high-profile current and former athletes as clients. Names like Michael Strahan, a man he speaks fondly of as a friend and a role model, as well as Reggie Bush, Larry Fitzgerald, Jeremy Shockey, Randy Moss, and Brian Griese.
“I’ve been doing this for 15 years. I’ve slept at stadiums. I’ve done everything from carrying laundry bags to getting guys restaurant reservations and car deals that their own agents couldn’t do. They would come to me. The credibility came from me starting on the ground and now I’m up at the… umm… I’m not at the penthouse… I’ll never be at the penthouse. I’m still a foot soldier regardless because of the traveling that I do and everything. But I would say that the guys that are successful are the guys that are honest and just do the right job.”
Salgado is moving into the world of Hollywood with a few producers interested in his services. He currently insures musicians, a skateboarder, and even his neighborhood’s mailman. But I wanted to know how the process works in the professional sports world.
“It works in two facets: you have college kids that are in their junior and senior year who want to protect their future earnings. We set up a career-ending policy and protect them for the draft process. Therefore, they can go to sleep at night knowing that if God forbid something were to happen - if they got hurt, if their opportunity to be drafted would be gone - they could still be financially secure. The other is when they become a pro. We sit down and insure what they currently have on the contract and discuss life insurance.”
“Big Daddy” is living proof that life is far too valuable to take for granted. Two years ago, Salgado suffered a brain aneurysm that his doctors fortunately caught and removed. A nineteen-inch scar across his head remains as a daily reminder that what we’ve got is so precious.
“But that is one thing that a lot of kids don’t like to talk about," says Salgado. "No one likes to talk about dying. That’s always the biggest thing. You’ve been told you are healthy and they are not worried about not being healthy.”
Reality is written on his forehead.
“Life is real and anything can happen to anybody. That is the one thing that I tell guys all the time. If you don’t believe what I’m telling you, then just look at the top of my forehead because it is noticeable and people see it all the time. I’m a guy that right now is never insurable for the rest of my life and thank God that I have the insurance that I had in place. How do we protect you? Those are honest straight up issues. I’m living proof of it everyday and I show it to guys everyday.”
"Big Daddy" grew up on Long Island, NY and played football at the University of Maryland. It’s clear that Salgado has always been interested in taking care of people. Living in Pittsburgh after college, he stepped up in a huge way to help out his Terrapin college roommate and the then quarterback for the Steelers, Neil O’Donnell.
“I moved to New Jersey to take care of Neil’s father who suffered a severe stroke. They needed someone to move him, most importantly, because he was a big guy. So, I went home to take care of Neil’s father while Neil played football. I became Mr. O’Donnell’s physical therapist, valet, etc.”
He’s a specialist now. He’ll demand that you let him do his job... for the long haul.
“I am there with the client for life," Salgado told Access Athletes. "Whereas, the agent isn’t going to be there with you if you can't play, and the financial advisor is only going to be with you as long as you have money with him. But the insurance policy is something that we have forever. That is the difference between what we do and what all those other professionals do.”
He’ll tell you to call him or reach out via email. He’s inordinately easy to talk to for a man who has earned a nickname with the word "Big" in it.
“That’s why some people are threatened by me because my strength is relationships.”
With a TV deal in the works, "Big Daddy" has no intentions of slowing down. He just knows what he is good at and keeps that his priority.
“That is what I think is successful. When you get a guy who wants to control everything and be the all-in-all to the athlete, well what if that guy makes a mistake and he is doing everything for you? What does he do? Does he fire himself? That is as easy and sensible as you can get. Keep it easy. I keep it easy and I keep it real.“
Published 09-28-2010 © 2020 Access Athletes, LLCKeywords: Brian Griese, Coastal Advisors LLC, Doug Marrone, ESPY Awards, Jeremy Shockey, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Strahan, MLB All-Star Weekend, NHL Draft, Randy Moss, Reggie Bush, Richard "Big Daddy" Salgado, Syracuse University