In the 90-plus years of the NFL’s existence, very few women without family connections to ownership have held meaningful positions in football operations. Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post explains that Dawn Aponte could become the league’s first female General Manager.
Currently Miami’s V.P. of football administration, Aponte has significant influence over the team’s contractual negotiations. And she works more closely with G.M. Jeff Ireland than most realize.
“Dawn will say ‘no’ when Jeff won’t,” a league source with knowledge of the team’s front office told Volin. “She doesn’t really have extemporaneous conversations. And she’s very ‘by the book’ with whatever stance the team has. But she’s done a fantastic job with making sure they’re one of the cap-healthiest teams in the NFL.”
Volin writes that Ireland routinely serves as the “good cop” and Aponte acts as the “bad cop” during contract talks.
This year, the duo good-and-bad-copped their way to a flurry of deals with low cap numbers in 2013. Next year, when those cap numbers spike, it’ll be up to Aponte to keep everything balanced.
Unless she leaves to run a team of her own.
The real question is when and if an owner will be ready to entrust the football operations to a female, especially in a franchise where the G.M. outranks the coach. It’s the kind of trailblazing that the late Al Davis (who hired Amy Trask to serve as the team’s CEO years ago) would be willing to do. It remains to be seen whether other owners will be as willing to disregard gender when it comes to hiring a General Manager.