An open secret in league circles regarding the recent decision of the Cleveland Browns to hire George Kokinis as the team’s new G.M. is that former Giants and Browns G.M. Ernie Accorsi had a voice in the process.
Kokinis acknowledged that Accorsi had a role in the process during the former Ravens pro personnel director’s introductory press conference as the General Manager in Cleveland.
Earlier this month, Accorsi gave Kokinis a strong endorsement for the job in comments to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. But neither Accorsi nor Tony Grossi pointed out in the article that Accorsi was being paid to help the Browns with their decision-making process.
(Apparently, Accorsi’s compensation also included a little bit of covert P.R.)
Grossi’s latest item regarding the Kokinis hire includes more gushing from Accorsi, along with a recognition that Accorsi had indeed been hired by the Browns to serve as a consultant in connection with the vacant G.M. position. We’d love to know whether Accorsi withheld this information from Grossi when Accorsi publicly went to bat for Kokinis earlier this month, and/or whether Grossi withheld the information from his audience.
Some league insiders are uncomfortable with the fact that Accorsi has so much influence in hiring decisions, primarily because Accorsi seems to be recommending only folks with whom he is familiar.
“Accorsi is being used as the League’s guy in terms of G.M. searches,” a league source recently told us. “Every owner is using him because [Commissioner Roger] Goodell is encouraging the owners [to do so]. He’s only worked for a few teams in the league and doesn’t know everyone. He’s recommending people he worked with. It’s transparent and bullsh-t.”
(Please, source, don’t hold back.)
“There are a lot of really good candidates, like Steve Keim and Mark Dominik and Nick Caserio, who don’t know Accorsio and won’t get recommended. It’s crap. Everyone knows it. Accorsi was a great G.M. but he’s content to recommend his buddies.”
The source pointed to Accorsi’s recommendation in 2008 of Thomas Dimitroff for the Falcons’ G.M. job, and the source opined that Accorsi’s relationship with Dimitroff’s father helped cement the endorsement. The source also noted that Kokinis worked for Accorsi in Cleveland.
Another guy who has yet to firmly hit the radar — Giants pro personnel director Dave Gettleman — supposedly was a finalist for the Giants job despite not being regarding by some in league circles as ready and/or able to run a front office. But, as the source explained, the fact that Gettleman worked for Accorsi in New York has gotten Gettleman in line for a recommendation.
Generally speaking, the source has a point. There are plenty of competent and qualified personnel execs. If the league is relying on Accorsi to help teams find new General Managers and if Accorsi is favoring his friends and former associates, folks who never had the opportunity or the occasion to enter Accorsi’s inner circle might not be getting fair consideration.


  1. Some former GMs spend their time talking to rich and powerful NFL owners, while some spend their time talking to Mike Florio.
    Who really knows what accounts for this disparity in outcomes? I don’t, but I’ll bet it has something to do with drafting Brandon Jacobs and Justin Tuck.
    BTW, Mark Domiki, Steve Keim, and Nick Caserio? Seriously? A guy who has been in the front office for one (1) season, a member of one of the NFL’s worst organizations, this year’s performance notwithstanding, and a guy who just got hired as a GM? Florio, once again, I think this source is you. Get that prescription refilled ASAP.

  2. I think its great that Accorsi was involved in this particular hire – becasue even if he’s only been involved with a few teams, Cleveland has been one of them and most of those teams have had success. I also appreciate that as a paid consultant he “seems to only be recommending folks with whom he is familiar”. There’s nothing worse than having a paid consultant recommending folks unfamiliar to him. There is nothing transparent about this – there is nothing wrong with it – it is everyday life of networking and how people get employed. It’s not an good-old-boys club – Kokinis is 41 (I think), this is his first job, and he came up through the ranks.

  3. I assume “source” = “someone bitter because he thinks he should have gotten more consideration for a job”

  4. While I totally agree with the premise of the story. Like nepotism, it’s hardly a new dynamic in the NFL. Bill Parcells, along with most other coaches and GM’s I’ve heard about, routinely get “their guys” both as players and coaches. And like nepotism, it makes a certain amount of sense because if you know someone you know their abilities and you know whether or not you can trust them.
    So this is hardly surprising. However, if he is specifically being singled out to help EVERY team that needs a new GM you would think he would try a bit harder to get to know candidates that he hasn’t worked with or at least be a little less obvious about it. Someone with that much influence should try very hard to avoid these, otherwise natural, biases.

  5. Wow, it takes some balls to talk like that about someone’s integrity under the protection of anonymity…..

  6. The crime here is Goodell endorsing Accorsi, not Accorsi endorsing guys he knows. what’s the purpose of him endorsing somebody he doesn’t know? Anyone can take a shot in the dark and a shot in the dark from Accorsi is not better than a shot in the dark from anyone else. Like Eric says above, what is his crime in endorsing Dimitroff?

  7. Accorsi went to the Jerry Jones school of assembling a locker room without considering personalities, chemistry or motivation.

  8. This is funny. I’m tickled pink that Lerner thought to hire Accorsi to help out. And who cares, aside from those 3 guys that didn’t get considered, that he recommended guys he knows.
    I mean, when you fill out a job application, do you just look up 3 random names in the phone book and put them down as references?? The answer “Mr. Source”, is No. This is so laughable I can’t believe it. Apparently, Ernie Accorsi knows what he’s doing and this shows that Rnady Lerner does too. Browns fans can step away from the cliff now.

  9. It’s not what you know but who you know… This happens all the time outside of the NFL. It’s the relationships you build and maintain that lead to better gigs in life.

  10. Just a question for the so-called “league insiders”:
    Who in the Hell is going to recommend someone that they are NOT familiar with?
    That’s one stupid piece of analysis. If you don’t know something about the candidate, how could you possibly make a qualified recommendation?
    If he recommended someone he WASN’T familiar with then he would be criticized for that.

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