Fans are naturally more interested in players and coaches than front-office employees.
But in Arizona, the intrigue over the firing of a salary cap administrator creates questions about the direction of the franchise and its leadership.
On its face, getting rid of Justin Casey is a line of agate type, the kind of transaction no one notices. But inside Cardinal headquarters, it has apparently created a bit of a divide.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports the move was “deeply felt inside the team’s headquarters in Tempe,” and could hint at a split between General Manager Rod Graves and coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Somers said it would be “hard to find a Cardinals employee more well-liked by his co-workers” than Casey, and there was no previous sense he was bad at his job. But he was also close with Whisenhunt, as the two occasionally played golf together.
Was that the reason he was fired, as a power play by Graves?
“That’s ridiculous,” Graves told Somers, when asked about the speculation. “Ken and I have a wonderful working relationship, and we’re on the same page in respect to improving as an organization, improving as a team and working together.”
Casey himself declined comment to Somers, and Graves didn’t elaborate on why he was replaced. There were other moves made in the front office as well, so perhaps it was part of a larger organizational shift.
Casey was replaced by Sean Castle, a CPA with no NFL experience.
“Our focus is on being a championship organization and becoming a championship team,” Graves said. “Every year in that quest, I’m evaluating where we are, from a personnel standpoint, and assessing new talent out there.
“What I have been able to do in assessing candidates is really get a feel for the skill sets people have and realize what services they can provide us that we don’t have. And sometimes at the end of that evaluation, you come to the conclusion that you’re better off making changes.”
That’s all well and good, and there could easily be a reason for all this. But when moves like this are made without full explanation, the vacuum quickly fills with conspiracy theories. Whether there’s a Graves-Whisenhunt split or not, the impression does no good for the organization, and barring evidence to the contrary, folks will begin to believe it whether it’s true or not.