It’s one of the most important positions in any football operation. For the Bears, Giants, and Vikings, each of whom are currently searching for new General Managers, it’s clearly the top job.
So why are NFL teams intent on considering, for the most part, candidates who don’t have experience as General Managers?
It’s an annual occurrence. As the names begin to emerge, most if not all (this year so far, all) belong to young, lower-level executives who are on the way up. The dance card doesn’t typically consist of former General Managers looking to get a second chance.
Yes, former General Managers usually are former General Managers for a reason. However, coaches get fired. They often get second chances. Why don’t more General Managers have a second act?
Consider one of the former General Managers who are currently available. Consider whether any of their names have come up in the latest round of interviews. Former Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff, who built a consistent winner in Atlanta. Former Giants G.M. Jerry Reese, a two-time Super Bowl winner. Former Texans G.M. Rick Smith, architect of a contender in Houston. Former Chiefs G.M. Scott Pioli, who won the Executive of the Year award multiple times with the Patriots. Former Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman, who drafted and developed and held together talented teams for nearly a generation in Minnesota.
I’m not saying any, some, or all of them should be hired. But how are they not getting serious consideration?
Here’s a possible theory. Some experienced General Managers may pose a threat to executives, such as the team president or COO, who prefer to emerge from a G.M. change with more juice. With a young and inexperienced G.M. on board, it’s easier for someone like a Ted Phillips in Chicago to have more sway with ownership. Moreover, to the extent that Phillips is involved in hiring the G.M. (and he is), a young and inexperienced G.M. is more likely to feel indebted to the executive who recommended him.
Hopefully, the owners of the teams looking for General Managers will be asking these questions. How can any team hire the best candidates for vacant G.M. positions without at least considering those who have shown that they can do the job, when the alternatives are candidates who never have?