For The Standard’s Deen Agustin, the journey to represent has just started

For The Standard’s Deen Agustin, the journey to represent has just started

The Standard NFL player agent Deen Agustin (left) poses with Sione Vaki (middle) and The Standard CEO Billy Cress (right) during Senior Bowl week ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft. Vaki was drafted in the 4th round by the Detroit Lions. | Photo Credit: Deen Agustin

For The Standard’s Deen Agustin, the journey to represent has just started

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAY 31, 2024

Even before he could legally operate a car alone, Deen Agustin was ready to take a road that had not been traveled before. 

A longtime football fan, Agustin remembers the journey to the present day beginning at 16 years old. With college rapidly approaching, he needed to sit down and think about what he wanted the future to look like in his career. A self-admitted “people person” with a desire to enter the world of professional football, Agustin turned to the business side of a league he was passionate about, finding that his strengths could be complemented through player representation. 

With a target locked onto, Agustin designed a seven-year plan at 16 years old to pursue and achieve the goal of becoming an NFLPA certified agent. One problem for the young man of Native Hawaiian decent? 

“Growing up, there wasn’t really anyone who I could look up to because there really is no other Pacific Islander or Asian American agents out there,” Agustin said. “So, I figured why not be the first one, or one of the first at least.”  

Part of the thought process of his pursuit anyway? The heavy Polynesian influence in the NFL. 

“Watching like Troy Polamalu or Haloti Ngata and guys like that [growing up], it was always really interesting to me because there has always been a lot of Polynesians in the NFL. They’re always the backbone of the NFL, really. They’re in the trenches, they’re flashy players too … They play with a lot of heart and everyone in the culture knows that we wear our hearts on our sleeves,” Agustin recalled. “[Being an agent] was something I really wanted to do and represent for the culture because there was no one on the business side helping out the culture in that way.” 

With the goals in place, it was time to go to work for Agustin. The Bay Area native would go on to attend San Francisco State for his bachelor’s degree, only that was not enough for the hard-working agent-to-be. He contacted members of the sport management program at nearby University of San Francisco, getting permission to sit in on a few classes at USF as early as his freshman year at San Francisco State. 

It was a two-pronged plan for Agustin, who knew he wanted to attend USF for graduate school but also had the desire to take in as much information about the world he was soon to dive into as he could. The plan worked, too. 

“It really paid off for me because when I was applying, about a week after I had applied to grad school, they let me know that they were going to admit me,” Agustin chuckled. 

Networking – which Agustin says is the number one key to focus on in the industry – was only beginning. After his enrollment at the University of San Francisco, Agustin was introduced to his future place of work, The Standard, and worked to find ways into meeting more people at the agency. That strategy paid off in the form of an interview, which was all he needed. 

The Standard, a sports representation organization that helps many players with Native Hawaiian and Polynesian backgrounds as they pursue their athletic dreams, was founded by musical group Common Kings manager Tautua Reed and former Miami Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi, both of whom come from Polynesian backgrounds, along with Chief Legal Officer Chris Bowley.  

Along with parent company Kīnā’ole Foundation, led by CEO Billy Cress, The Standard has a stated goal to show an “unwavering commitment to athletes and coaches from Native Hawaiian and Polynesian backgrounds” while raising the level of representation for a group that made up five percent of the 2024 NFL Draft selections.

For Agustin, a job with the agency was a match made in heaven. 

Quickly after his graduation from USF in the spring of 2023, Agustin worked his way into a job with The Standard, becoming certified as an agent by the NFL Players’ Association by the fall and signing Sione Vaki as his first client. Despite Vaki being represented by the agency throughout his time in college with Utah, Agustin and The Standard re-pitched the versatile star on staying with the agency heading into his professional career. 

“We wanted to do right by him … and welcome him to the NFL side of the business,” Agustin said of the plan to re-pitch a client that had already been with the agency. “It was really the first time that I was able to get a lot of face time with him and [we] just clicked right away because just like me, he’s a Bay Area kid, we’re both Polynesians and we’re both going into our rookie years in the NFL, so to speak.” 

The now-24-year-old Agustin made history last month alongside his client, Detroit Lions’ 4th-round pick Sione Vaki, as the two became the first drafted Polynesian player and agent duo in NFL history. Vaki signed his rookie contract with the Lions on May 10, right in the middle of Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To the youngest agent with a client drafted this year, it was a fitting moment to cap off what has been a full-circle journey for Agustin. 

“It was a really poetic moment for him to be drafted by Detroit and their color just so happened to be Honolulu Blue. It was really like a storybook moment, for sure,” Agustin said about Vaki getting selected by the Lions. “Sione is probably the best first client anyone could ever ask for; [he] does nothing but work hard, super humble and grateful for everything.” 

Vaki, a 2023 finalist for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year award, and his agent aren’t so different in their processes. While both jump at the chance to prove naysayers wrong, it is always done with hard work and a willingness to push the boundaries of what they are capable of. There were many doubters from the outside on the ability of the 24-year-old to be able to represent an NFL draftee as an agent in his first calendar year on the big circuit, but with the help and trust of The Standard team and Vaki alike, Agustin has continued to crush the qualms of others while helping trailblaze the way for other future agents with similar hopes and dreams. 

“I just can’t express how grateful I am for The Standard taking a chance on me and giving me an opportunity to represent the Polynesian culture at the highest level of business in football,” Agustin gushed. “Between the leaders at The Standard and Sione [Vaki], the confidence and trust I’ve been shown only motivates me more.” 

While it has been a rocket ship take-off for both The Standard and Agustin in the first year in getting into the NFL side of things, their work is far from finished for Polynesian players. Deeply experienced in the world of NIL with high school and college student-athletes alike, the agency already represents the state of Hawai’i’s top 2025 high school football recruit in Campbell quarterback Jaron Keawe-Sagapolutele. The left-handed star QB likely won’t be the only one in this cycle represented by The Standard among talent in the islands between the high school and college level. The journey has only begun, but not just on the field. 

The Standard and Kīnā’ole Foundation will continue to try to make their presence known in the islands and within the community through service, funding and representation of more athletes vying for futures at the next level – collegiate or professional. 

Maybe even in the business side of things? 

“I think in the summer we might be looking for interns,” Agustin laughed.