I worked in the National Football League for fifteen seasons as an Area Scout, College Director and Vice President of Player Personnel. I was extremely fortunate to have worked under Bill Polian (President Indianapolis Colts) and Mike McCormick (NFL Hall of Famer) who hired me in Carolina fifteen years ago. Those two personnel men sharpened my skills and taught me a lot about the NFL, and Personnel from top to bottom, while I brought the work ethic.
I earned my stripes as an area scout, gaining knowledge with every step along the way. Scouting in the NFL is an extremely demanding occupation. I would spend 10-12 days on the road and then come home for 3-4 days. Then I found myself off and running again. You see the scouting season has a short window, from August to December. A scout must make his schedule work so he starts his travel during training camps. You must develop a schedule that flows thru your area visiting all the major colleges or Universities twice.
In my first year with the Panthers, I was responsible for the Southwest region (Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, North & South Dakota, Wyoming) and the state I choose to move my family, Colorado.
Travel is a huge part of the job. Living in Colorado, all the states I was responsible for were east, and were a seven hour drive to the first college or university. I drove over 30,000 miles in my first year (in 150 days). Scouts watch college game tape 5 hours a day, 20 days a month. That’s 500 hours of film evaluation. Not to mention 100 hours of meetings with Pro Liaisons, Trainers, Team Doctors, Academic Advisors, Administrative Assistants, Intramural Directors and many more.
Now let’s talk about typing reports. As an area scout I submitted a report on all seniors in my region and any junior that declared (the total number fluctuated each year). So if I had to calculate for a season, the ball park number would top 340 per year as an area scout and I only graded the top 250 as a College Scouting Director and VP.
A personnel man who comes up in the business of scouting, and develops and is promoted to a Director or Vice President has learned the value, responsibility and skills of evaluating talent. They understand the commodity is football players.
The landscape battle for NFL front office jobs including the GM position as well is between the Personnel man vs. the Capologist. Cap Men are those that basically handle the money for each team. They are not the COO (Chief Operating Officer), CEO (Chief Executive Officer). They keep the team’s Cap balanced (the salaries of all the players). Think of the cap as a revolving checking account that has a limit (like a bank account). If you go over that amount you receive a fine. While these Cap Men are trusted by the ownership group and become extremely close to them, the argument is that they don’t have any personnel background and should not be in charge of and surely should not be given an opportunity to run a NFL franchise.
There have been several Cap Men that took advantage of their opportunity and in most cases successful.
New York Jets – Mike Tannenbaum
Philadelphia Eagles – Howie Rosen
Carolina Panthers – Marty Hurney
New Orleans Saints – Mickey Loomis
While several of the teams listed above are in good position to make the playoffs and do damage in the tournament, every one of these men have surrounded themselves with very good, high quality personnel men, helping them make decisions on daily personnel issues, roster analysis, Free Agency and the yearly NFL Draft.
The future battle of true Personnel Men running teams and making the call for a NFL franchise is starting to fade with sharp young men handling the Cap. The battle is on and will be fierce the next ten years for the General Manager position in the National Football league.