The problem in the NFL is that there are too many Rasputins: A Russian character best known for controlling the Czars through manipulation, deceit, and dark room trickery. He was eventually assassinated. Those who work in team offices will tell you that there is always someone trying to warm up to the owner at the expense of throwing their friend or workmate under the bus. One NFL finance guy was fired a few years ago for applying for the job of team President without telling the people he currently was answering to. Two best friends who use to be roommates when they started out both rose to the rank of GM. To my knowledge they haven’t talked to each other in over six years or more.
When a team does find chemistry in their front office, especially between the evaluators and coaches, it’s rare. That is why head coaches are asking for more and more personnel control. It’s not that they want to actually pick every player on their roster, they want to limit the possibilities of creating a fractured environment that they may have experienced elsewhere. It frustrated the Spanos family that GM AJ Smith and Marty Schottemhiemer went a long period without talking to each other. They eventually had to let one of them go because of it. These in-house battles and periods of cold shoulders are more prevalent than people realize. It even happens with teams that are successful and winning Super Bowls. It’s no secret that Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones’ relationship soured quickly while working together.
NFL team jobs mostly attract men, who are usually poor communicators, super ambitious, competitive, and insecure. Working in the NFL is a very insecure environment to start with. When a ship starts sinking every one starts looking around for a lifeboat. You wouldn’t believe the lack of communication and the rigid frozen air that perpetually exist in some front offices.
In the HBO series, Game of Thrones, the evolution of power-swings is constantly in motion. Is it the decline of the Reid or Belichick Empire? Are the prince Harbaughs growing the new coaching trees that will seed the league for the next two decades? Is the new profile of power in the form of the man wielding the calculator and law degree as the Hand of the King? Is the Irishman in Philly going to take the NFC East by storm while surviving raids by his own people?
The real drama in the NFL is not always on the field. Just ask anyone who has worked there.
Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta
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