Who is Mike Maccagnan?
Though it’s been well-known throughout the NFL for days, the New York Jets officially announced the hiring of Mike Maccagnan yesterday as their new General Manager. The reason I say it’s been known for days, is Maccagnan has been at the Jets' offices in New Jersey for a number of days taking part in the interview process of perspective head coaches. If he wasn’t going to be the general manager, that wouldn’t have happened.
Just who is Mike Maccagnan? Mike is veteran scout who has been involved with professional football since 1990. He began his career in the Canadian Football League as a scout and scouting director and then worked in player personnel for the old World League, the NFL’s European minor league. In 1994, Maccagnan was hired by the Washington Redskins as a college scout and became involved in pro scouting the following year. During his NFL career, he has been heavily involved in both areas of the scouting process.
When Charley Casserly became the Houston Texans first General Manager in 2000, one of his first hires was Maccagnan. While he became a trusted aide to Casserly during Casserly’s time in Houston, his value as an evaluator was known throughout the Houston organization. When Rick Smith replaced Casserly as the Texans' general manager in 2006 he retained Maccagnan, something that doesn’t always happen in the NFL when there is a changing of the guard. Smith quickly saw Maccagnan’s value as he became Assistant Director of College Scouting, and in 2011, he was promoted to Director of College Scouting.
I first met Mike on a school call in the late 1990’s when I was with the New York Giants, and he was with Washington. You learn a lot about a scout when you are on the road with them. You see their work habits, how diligent they are, how professional they are. Trust me, scouts “scout” other scouts. They know who is good and who “goes through the motions”. Mike Maccagnan is as hard a worker as there is when he is on the road. He always was one of the first scouts in the building and the last to leave. When the “pro liaison” came in to talk about the prospects, Mike would ask important pertinent questions, not the typical scouting questions.
When you make school calls, there are typically two or three meeting rooms the school makes available for scouts to watch game tape. Generally, many of the scouts gather in one room where they watch tape but many also have a high degree of conversation. Maccagnan was not one of those guys. He would go into a room either by himself or with a few veteran scouts, where he knew he could make the best use of his time. When practice began, Mike, again, would be by himself watching practice, where he could have full concentration on the task at hand. That is one thing I always respected about him when I was with him at various schools. I saw first-hand how important it was to him to not waste his time and get the evaluation right.
When Charley Casserly was named as a consultant to help in the Jets search for a GM and Head Coach, I told a friend of mine, “Watch, Maccagnan will be the new GM”. Sure, Casserly is extremely familiar with Maccagnan because of their time working together, but Charley also has a deep respect for Mike’s talent. Charley Casserly would not put his reputation on the line by hiring Maccagnan just because they were friends. He made the choice because it was the right choice!
In football, the media is always looking for the “hot name”, but the hot name isn’t always the right guy. Many times, the best guys, are the guys that don’t have someone “promoting” them. They are men who are invaluable to their organization. In the world that is the NFL, you don’t survive 15 years at one place under different regimes unless you are talented. Mike Maccagnan is a very talented and underrated “football man” and should do an excellent job, along with new Head Coach Todd Bowles in turning the Jets franchise around.