How Michael Strahan and Constance Schwartz-Morini built a sports and entertainment empire (2023)

"Work like you're broke. This is our motto. And that's how we continue to operate."

It's been 15 years since Michael Strahan called it an NFL career. Since then, you'd think he's still an active player as the 51-year-old dominates the small screen in many roles. The former New York Giant owns the crowd during the day as a co-host of Good Morning America. On the weekends, football fans watch his rare misses as an analyst on Fox NFL Sunday. Finally, Strahan also hosts the $100,000 Pyramid game show for ABC. If not, Strahan is emerging as one of the most recognizable retirees around, but few can eclipse such success in later years without being surrounded by a team equally committed to helping them thrive.

This is Constance Schwartz-Morini, a longtime business advisor and friend of Strahan's, as well as a partner and co-founder of SMAC Entertainment. The duo have known each other for decades, first meeting when Schwartz-Morini was playing in the NFL in the 1990s. After spending ten years in the league, Schwartz-Morini left the sport to become a talent manager for a record company, leaving the position after only 11 months. However, she learned valuable lessons during that brief tenure, valuable enough to make her one of the most sought after minds in marketing.

"Nothing is a failure if you have learned something," he told the boardroom.

sports and entertainment

Despite being hailed as a footballer, it seems that being a media personality was destined for Strahan. After all, this is how the cooperation between him and the Schwartz-Morini company flourished.

Looking to host a golf tournament in the mid-1990s, Schwartz-Morini and Tracy Perlman, now the NFL's senior vice president of player engagement, hired Strahan for the role. Unsurprisingly, Strahan excelled as an emcee, which slowly led to more off-season job opportunities. As the Super Bowl champion explains, the housekeeper kept him busy.

How Michael Strahan and Constance Schwartz-Morini built a sports and entertainment empire (1)

How Michael Strahan and Constance Schwartz-Morini built a sports and entertainment empire (2)

How Michael Strahan and Constance Schwartz-Morini built a sports and entertainment empire (3)

“I needed something to do in the off season as there is a lot of free time and what am I going to do? Are you at home every day? I mean, I'm young, my mind is working. I want to do something. And I found that what they do is fun. It was addictive. I can't say that I ever said I was doing this because it will lead to this and it will lead to that, and I will be on TV or working closely with the NFL to build that career. My career has been playing soccer. I always realized that that was my main job and I never thought of a side job because I always said don't mess up the main job with the side job."

While he never viewed these shows in a way that would shape his future, Strahan admits they prepared him for what he does now, and ultimately to run his own entertainment company, which he runs with Schwartz-Morini.

Short for Sports, Media and Culture, SMAC describes itself as "a culture maker and liaison that creates and guides world-class, multi-connected talent toward dynamic and rewarding careers." Strahan and Schwartz-Morini co-founded SMAC in 2011 in the latter's living room, and their first big venture was the NHL entertainment sector.

It's no wonder Schwartz-Morini approaches business with that attitude. You probably can't pinpoint the exact moment Snoop Dogg went from being a rapper signed to Death Row to an international media mogul who landed commercials with major brands, launched a mascot line, and launched the Snoop Youth Football League. Schwartz-Morini can, as she was Snoop's manager at the time and is responsible for helping him acquire said companies. Although she left at 40 because she wanted to "get her life back," Schwartz-Morini still maintains a close relationship with the Grammy-nominated artist.

Over the past decade, the pair have built SMAC into one of the most valuable sports brands. As a talent management company, it recognizes clients like Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, and Wiz Khalifa. Diana Flores, the quarterback for the Mexican women's soccer team, also trusts SMAC on her board. In February, Flores landed her own Super Bowl commercial, starring alongside Andrews, Willow Gardner, Jalen Ramsey and other high-profile NFL figures.

Athletes have a problem with trust, especially when it comes to finding the right person to work in business ventures. Establishing this connection takes time and cannot be formally taught. As for the Strahan and Schwartz-Morini collaboration, the former believes that the latter's brief advice was the catalyst for officially signing her on as a partner many years ago.

"There's a lot to learn from her, and what Constance has built is inspiring," Strahan told his 15-year-old friend. “I understand that I will receive a lot of credit for many things that I do not deserve. It's important to me that other people see that it's a collaboration. I may be in front of the camera, but I'm not there without it and without the team we've built."

"Once we're in this room, I guarantee I know what's going on. I'll show you. I know what's going on and I'll take the pressure off them.

Multidimensional modern athlete

While they are respected for securing a championship for their city or recruiting the next superstar for their franchise, these days the likelihood of athletes reaching unprecedented levels of success after retirement is not uncommon. In fact, we see veterans preparing for life after the game while still playing. Between venture capital firms, manufacturing companies, clothing lines, analyst roles, and other endeavors, the first question an athlete often asks after leaving the game is, "What's next?"

The multi-dimensionality of an athlete is extremely attractive in a business sense, and Strahan certainly fits the qualifications of someone who is supposed to excel off the grid. Strahan also dabbled in music. In 1998, the NFL had the bright idea of ​​pairing an active player with a popular country star and producing an album featuring the two singing duets. Strahan teamed up with Randy Travis and recorded "Brinks Truck." Strahan jokes that it would have been a No. 1 hit "if only Randy Travis had let my voice shine a little more," but it was the first example of the NFL creating opportunities for its players.

But that wasn't always the case, Strahan notes. Professionals haven't always been given the green light to part with the game for a financial incentive. "You literally had to be downstairs to get an idea or give them their ideas."

Perhaps that is why his alliance with Schwartz-Morini remained intact from the beginning. There was a healthy amount of mutual trust in Strahan's eyes. As for Schwartz-Morini, it was his ability to look beyond the superhero moniker often attached to celebrities and instead consider them equals. Internally, they both bring their combined decades of experience to the strong team they are building at SMAC.

Another factor that significantly contributed to its success is the understanding of the responsibility of each person within the brand. For example, Strahan does not run daily SMAC operations. This is Schwartz-Morini, COO April Giudone and many other directors. But like any observant co-founder, Strahan reads every email, proposal, and correspondence that lands on his desk. As a decorated NFL player and beloved talk show host, Strahan admits his strengths lie in capitalizing on long-term relationships, getting his team into the right rooms and helping them stay in those rooms.

"Once we're in that room, I guarantee you I know what's going on," Strahan said. "I'm going to show you. I know what's going on and I'll take the pressure off them.

How Michael Strahan and Constance Schwartz-Morini built a sports and entertainment empire (4)

Strahan calls Schwartz-Morini's ability to see lasting potential "incredible," adding that it's "a gift I've never seen in anyone." It's easy to wonder how much praise they have for each other because it comes from a place of authenticity. Even if the vision doesn't come to fruition, Strahan and Schwartz-Morini don't stop at their misfortune. Instead, they regroup, explore a different approach, and use the lessons learned to prevent a repeat. SMAC's success is largely attributed to his adaptability, willingness to improve his skills, and enthusiasm for helping others grow.

“These people trust me with their careers, so I don't really stop to think about it. It is always the gut, the instinct. And you just play with it.

"There is a lot to learn from her and what Constance has built is very inspiring."

Building the SMAC entertainment universe

It started as a management company for the best in sports and entertainment, but Strahan and Schwartz-Morini want SMAC to be more than that. Now they create original content, consult with brands, and develop original consumer products with signed talent. Basically everything you need in the sports scene.

What's next? At one point, Schwartz-Morini mentioned that they had three offices: New York, Los Angeles, and a satellite operation in Boulder. In fact, SMAC plays a big role in the evolution of Colorado freshman football coach Deion Sanders. After three seasons at Jackson State, the NFL legend took on a role with the Pac-12. Describing his collaboration, Schwartz-Morini says the talks began two years after Sanders retired and when his team played Snoop Dogg's team in the Snooper Bowl. Sanders sought suggestions to manage the team, and Schwartz-Morini pitched herself. They became friends, and over time, she helped him run national campaigns and collaborate with famous brands.

When the subject of head coaching came up, Schwartz-Morini advocated for Sanders to promote himself as a candidate. The original plan was for the proceeds from the state of Florida to help recruit students to his alma mater. Instead, Schwartz-Morini advised him to enter boot camp. After all, Sanders has a lot of experience applying for franchises.

“In his recruiting meetings, he always says that he was the kid recruited. He fathered a recruited child and is now a recruiter. He knows how to play, he says.

"He's an amazing guy and he just wants to motivate these kids," added Strahan. "For him, it's more than just being on the field. I want these kids to have an afterlife because not everyone is going to play sports. Kudos to Deion, he's definitely special and I think he's going to crush him in Colorado.

When Sanders announced his move to Colorado, he was met with some rejection. The former Atlanta Falcon was a strong supporter of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), leading Jackson State to a 27-6 record and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) title in 2021. So let the Tigers in favor of the Buffaloes left some understandably confused. Schwartz-Morini explained that while his departure was "emotional," Sanders "came into the job and felt like he did it." With the help of Walmart, Sanders helped Jackson State acquire a newly fixed and updated football field, replacing the unusable one the team had previously had.

"It was not easy. But at the same time, he's a very spiritual man," said Yonkers, a New York native. "Even when I was deciding whether it would be Colorado or another school that I talked to, he called me and said, 'Okay, God just spoke to me. . Let's go to Colorado." So we called the athletic director [Rick George] and said, 'Here we go.'

As an HBCU alumnus, Strahan said Sanders' commitment to promoting HBCU hasn't stopped since his departure. In fact, Sanders plans to host a camp and mini combine for HBCU players who want to play at the professional level.

“It was never just about the JSU athletes. He invites all the HBCU schools, giving these Scouts a chance to see these kids that they may not have had a chance to see, and maybe give them a chance," said the Texas Southern alumnus. "He got a lot of flak. for leaving, but he didn't talk about those things because that wasn't the point. It wasn't about him. It was about moving on, moving forward and helping more kids and taking care of their coaches. And for that I praise him."

"He's an amazing guy and he just wants to motivate these kids"

SMAC also has a lot to offer on the manufacturing front. Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in June, "BS High" tells the bizarre story of Ohio's Bishop Sycamore football team. It made national headlines when the team lost an ESPN-televised game to IMG Academy 58-0 in a matchup that fell short of expectations between the supposedly two rivals. Not to mention, it turned out that the Centurions played two games in three days and weren't even affiliated with the Ohio High School Athletic Association. As a result, head coach Roy Johnson was fired, and the situation became the laughingstock of the Internet. BS High will air on HBO and HBO Max later this year and will be directed by Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe, who won an Oscar for their 2020 short film Two Distant Strangers.

"The fascinating thing about this documentary is that you don't talk about the situation," Strahan quipped. "You speak directly to the people in it, from Roy, who was the coach, to the kids and their parents."

Another SMAC Productions project the duo is looking forward to is an upcoming documentary series focusing on the evolution of black quarterbacks in the United States. Former Falcons QB Michael Vick will executive produce and host, and the series will be told from his point of view and feature interviews with many current and former NFL players and coaches. Vick made history in 2001 when he became the first black quarterback to be drafted first in the NFL when the Atlanta Falcons drafted him from Virginia Tech. The four-time Pro Bowler had a storied 13-year league career with the Falcons. , Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers before retiring in 2017.

Speaking of Vick's excellence in the role, Strahan noted that while this production features black players in the NFL, ironically, Vick's idols growing up didn't necessarily look like him. However, that did not stop the 42-year-old from breaking the institutional racist narrative.

How Michael Strahan and Constance Schwartz-Morini built a sports and entertainment empire (5)

"I was blown away by how good Michael was," Strahan said. “But the thing is with Mike, his inspiration was Joe Montana, John Elway and Steve Young, so talk to them, talk to Andy Reid because it's not just that the black quarterback is so good, you had someone who had to give him. opportunities too. Yes. But they are also all influenced by different types of guys. Everyone would think that he is influenced by Randall Cunningham or something, but he is not.

How Michael Strahan and Constance Schwartz-Morini built a sports and entertainment empire (6)

Former players follow different paths after retirement and Strahan couldn't help but focus on developing his career over the past 15 years. The Hall of Famer tells the boardroom that his career has somewhat redefined what is expected of athletes and what the public expects of former players. In the end, Strahan replaced two of television's most storied white men, from Regis Philbin as daytime host to Dick Clark as game show host.

"Who the hell would have ever thought? To me, it shows that the world has changed. There's still a lot of work to be done, but the world has changed and people are willing to accept someone who I think is not traditional to get things done." And I think if you're someone thinking about a career change, the world is your oyster."

To be honest, ellipsis is an understatement when talking about the empire that Strahan and Schwartz-Morini built. Off-screen, the duo work tirelessly to further develop their skincare line, menswear brand and, on the women's side, the Erin Andrews licensed clothing collection.

“Every time I walk into CVS or Rite Aid, I run to the men's shaving section where there are skin care products. I always say, "My gosh, we have men's skincare alongside these legendary brands that have been around for how many years," Schwartz-Morini said. “And we launched it during the pandemic. Once again, we couldn't have done it without the SMAC team."

Outwardly, it seems that luck has always been on his side. Instead, Strahan credits his ability to see failures as teachable moments. Lastly, and most of all, trust your gut.

“If you're getting into something, trust your gut. If that fails, your name will be at the top. If you're successful, you'll get all the credit. If I know I did my best, trusted my gut and failed, I can live with that.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Ms. Lucile Johns

Last Updated: 05/15/2023

Views: 5267

Rating: 4 / 5 (61 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Ms. Lucile Johns

Birthday: 1999-11-16

Address: Suite 237 56046 Walsh Coves, West Enid, VT 46557

Phone: +59115435987187

Job: Education Supervisor

Hobby: Genealogy, Stone skipping, Skydiving, Nordic skating, Couponing, Coloring, Gardening

Introduction: My name is Ms. Lucile Johns, I am a successful, friendly, friendly, homely, adventurous, handsome, delightful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.