Why don’t former General Managers get considered for G.M. vacancies?

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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?

13 responses to “Why don’t former General Managers get considered for G.M. vacancies?

  1. I was glad to see the Lions bring John Dorsey in as a salaried advisor. You would think that a GM could learn a lot from the first job and apply it to the new one. There have to be some mistakes they would not repeat a second time.

  2. Having a GM with final say in the draft may be a safeguard if you have a bad coach, but for good and great coaches it is a deterrent for wanting to work there.

  3. Because a coach may get fired from a bad situation where the GM got him bad players. Unless there is a meddling owner, if a GM gets fired it’s entirely his fault

  4. A higher level manager should never FORCE a candidate for a job on the candiate’s immediate supervisor.

    That said if you keep picking the wrong guy to be a GM YOU should be fired.

  5. I bet most former GMs don’t want meddling owners selecting a draftee and FA’s and then blaming them for it not working.

  6. Former Texans G.M. Rick Smith built the Texans from nothing. He looks like he should get another shot.

  7. Because when a GM fails spectacularly smart teams don’t want that to be repeated with their team. Unless you’re the Jags and have an owner who is clueless and hires Baalke because he doesn’t want to win.

  8. Scott Pioli’s tenure in KC was pathetic. He was universally despised by the long-term staff (those that he didn’t fire) and his skill as a talent evaluator was non-existent. He had the #3 pick in his first draft and who did he choose? None other than the immortal edge rusher … Tyson Jackson. Don’t remember Jackson? Not surprising — Jackson had as much impact as an orange traffic cone.

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