Sean Stellato ’97 Talks About Grit and Resiliency, and “Breaking the Internet”

Sean Stellato '97 and Tommy DeVito on BarstoolSports

When Tommy DeVito engineered a last-minute drive to lead the New York Giants to victory over the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football, he catapulted from local legend to national feel-good story of the year. The undrafted free agent — and as recently as early November, third-string quarterback — best known for living with his parents in the house where he grew up, 12 minutes from MetLife Stadium, secured his third consecutive win in his five-game NFL career. And with that, “Tommy Cutlets” was poised to become the biggest story in the NFL not named Taylor. 

Except …

Just before the MNF game started, the television broadcast showed DeVito on-field with his agent, dressed in a black pinstriped suit and black fedora and talking on the phone. First, Barstool Sports posted the photo, then ESPN; the MNF broadcast started talking about him, then the Manning brothers on their popular ManningCast. Later in the MNF broadcast, the agent and DeVito’s father were seen exchanging kisses on the cheek in celebration of a touchdown pass. By the time the Giants sealed the victory, a social media sensation had been born!

Of course, we know that viral superstar as Sean Stellato ’97, founder of SES Sports, a multi-faceted sports representation and marketing agency, a standout two-sport athlete at Gunn and Marist College, and author of three books, including two children’s books co-authored by one of his four daughters.

Sean Stellato '97 Athletic Hall of Fame induction

Sean Stellato’s ’97 induction into the Gunn Athletic Hall of Fame at Alumni Weekend in June 2018

After a week that started with Monday Night Football in New York and ended with Stellato’s induction into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame on Friday night in Chicago, Chief Development Officer Sean Brown P’22 ’27 caught up with him to talk about grit and resiliency, his storied career, and of course “breaking the internet.”

Sean Brown: You’ve had quite the week. Take us back to Monday night when this all started.

Sean Stellato: I get on the field, and I have a marketing opportunity that I am trying to close, and then my daughter ends up calling me, and we have our nighttime read. Obviously, I met with Tommy; that’s what we’ve been doing. Then I made my way into the stands, and suddenly, it was like, “Holy cow!” I think I got 150 texts in 10 minutes. Then my daughters are like, “Daddy, I think you’re going viral.”

SB: Please tell me you were on the phone with your daughter, reading her a story, when that first photo was posted on Barstool Sports!?

Sean Stellato '97 and Tommy DeVito on BarstoolSports

Sean Stellato ’97 and Tommy DeVito on Barstool

SS: You’re pretty close. I think it was finishing up one and segueing into the other … And y’know, I’ve got to give you partial credit on this because maybe I would have been there a little later if I wasn’t meeting Jon (Tisch ’72).

SB: I guess there is something to be said about timing. And the power of the Gunn network.

SS: It was incredible meeting Jon, someone I have always admired, tried to emulate … everything he has done for the Gunn school. It was weird how all the stars aligned that night.

Sean Stellato '97 and Jon Tisch '72

Sean Stellato ’97 and Jonathan Tisch ’72 at MetLife Stadium on December 11

SB: There was a fair amount of speculation on social media and television about what was in the bag you were carrying — some reasonable and some downright ridiculous. So, what was in the bag?

SS: There were a few things in the bag, but one thing was a copy of No Backing Down that I wanted to give to Jon.

SB: We’re just putting tons of rumors to rest here. While we’re at it, we know Tommy DeVito is not your only client. In fact, a couple of years ago, you had guys on both teams in the Super Bowl.

SS: The majority of my clients are undrafted. I've had a second and a third-rounder, but one thing I take pride in is my ability to evaluate talent and character. I operate equally as a general manager and an agent.

SB: Your heritage is important to you, can you just talk a little about what the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame means to you?

SS: My heritage is the root of everything. I am a very proud Italian American. My grandfather came over with his parents and $14 to their name to live the American dream. I look at the path they took, and my anxiety decreases drastically when I look at who came before me. I carry that grit and resiliency with me and preach it to my four daughters. I found out at the end of August I was being enshrined. It was just so crazy. The Italian gods worked their magic to make it one of those weeks. I am so excited about the hall of fame. They are raising millions of dollars for kids’ scholarships … this week gave that a whole other layer of exposure. The stars definitely aligned for that to happen.

SB: Grit and resiliency are definitely words that describe you. I am sure it hasn’t been easy to make your way in this business, right?

SS: When I wanted to be a sports agent, I reached out to the biggest firm and said, “Can you give me a shot?” They said, “Do something else. It’s almost impossible to make it in this business.” I remember those words. Then, last Tuesday, my phone rang, and that same agent called to tell me I was doing a great job, and he admired me. I wanted to tell him to pound sand. But I don’t hold grudges.

SB: Your outfits have been a source of discussion, and obviously, I am a Jordan guy, so I am a big fan of the gold kicks. 

SS: One of my clients gifted me those gold Jordans, but my daughter is like, “Dad, you should wear these.” I said, “That’s a great look. Let’s do it.” And then Jon looked at me and was like, “Yep. That’s exactly what I pictured.” And I was just smiling from ear to ear. Then Priscilla Presley made a statement to me that I thought was pretty cool; she said, ‘I haven’t seen anyone dress this cool since Elvis. I am serious.”

Sean Stellato '97 and Priscilla Presley

Sean Stellato ’97 and Priscilla Presley at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame ceremony in Chicago on December 15

SB: So, what kind of advice do you have for our students and young alumni?

SS: One of the things I took from my experience at the Gunn school is time management. Each of us has 86,400 seconds daily, and what you do with that is on you. You may not be the smartest/fastest. You have all the resources to do what you want if you want it that bad. If you surround yourself with good people, you can go from good to great. I have so much passion in my heart to be the best sports agent, but also, it would be a travesty if I were not able to mentor, advise, and inspire other people. 

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