In the summer of 1991, Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA) hosted the Art Monk football camp and welcomed many young athletes from around the state. Among these athletes was a young man from Luray, Virginia, who was preparing to start his junior year of high school.
Samir Suleiman ’93, attended the Art Monk football camp and used it as an opportunity to explore a school with quality sports and superior academics. “I thought R-MA’s facilities were great and their higher level of education appealed to me too,” said Suleiman. Once he arrived at R-MA for his junior year he became involved with extracurricular activities immediately. He first joined the football team and eventually participated in basketball, baseball, and the National Honor Society.
After he graduated from R-MA in the spring of 1993, Suleiman attended James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, Virginia, on a football scholarship. He played wide receiver in a pro-style offense and in the fall of 1994 helped his team win the Lambert Cup Championship. Two and half years after their championship season, Suleiman graduated from JMU with a bachelor of science in sports management.
It was Suleiman’s goal to work for a professional sports franchise so he sent his resume to every NFL and NBA team. In spite of his diligence he did not receive any leads, but his fortune began to change after his exit interview with the JMU football coach.
Suleiman’s coach had connections in the NFL, including one at their Headquarters in New York City. After he sent Suleiman’s resume to his contact, Suleiman landed an interview and eventually a job on the NFL Management Council. During his time with the Management Council, Suleiman soon became a hot commodity in contract negotiations. Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) had only been around for a couple of years when Suleiman started working on the Management Council. As a result, he was able to observe the evolution of CBAs and all of its intricacies.
While mastering the art of CBAs, Suleiman played for the Brooklyn Mariners semi-professional football team and in 1997 recorded a championship victory in the Garden State Football League. After one year with the Management Council, NFL teams began to recognize the fruits of Suleiman’s labor, and they wanted a taste.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were the first to obtain Suleiman in 1998 and made him the Manager of Contract Information. He created and distributed salary cap reports throughout the year, but his primary duty was his role as the secondary contract negotiator.
After two years in Jacksonville, the St. Louis Rams, impressed by Suleiman’s contract negotiation performance with the Jaguars, offered him the newly created position Director of Football Administration and eventually the Director of Football Operations. This was a vital role within the organization and Suleiman did not disappoint. He was the primary contract negotiator of more than 700 player contracts, managed the then $116 million salary cap, represented the Rams organization at NFL meetings, served as the liaison to the NFL Office, Players Association, and player agents, and much more.
He left the Rams in 2009 and is currently with the Pittsburgh Steelers where he performs similar tasks along with organizing and managing the details of the team’s travel plans: which hotel the team stayed in, how they were transported, where they would rendezvous for team meetings, etc. .
Suleiman is a sportsman through and through. He is not only a former college and semi-professional football player, but also a big game hunter. Suleiman is a member of Safari Club International and has multiple entries in their record book. He has hunted in 22 states and three countries including Mozambique where he uprooted and eliminated a killer hippopotamus and fed it to the local village. Suleiman also enjoys traveling and has ventured to 40 states, 15 countries, and every continent except Antarctica. He most recently traveled to Peru and hiked Machu Picchu with his girlfriend, Erin.
No matter how far he travels, he can always find his roots in the Shenandoah Valley on top of the hill in Front Royal, Virginia. It was at Randolph-Macon Academy where he learned the crucial lessons that prepared him for the future. When asked if he learned anything at R-MA that he still uses in his daily activities, his response was, “Discipline, promptness, and respect for others.”