By Dave Razzano, Playmaker Correspondent
The NFL Scouting community owes a great big “thank you” to the Falcons Thomas Dimitroff. After taking over for “lawyer” Rich McKay a few years back, the former scout has turned Atlanta into one of the league’s elite teams in a short period of time while being named Sporting News “executive of the year” twice already.
It makes too much sense. Shouldn’t the man at the top of the organizational chart know the value of the potential multimillion dollar investment himself?
At last count eleven teams are run by former scouts and most are upper echelon NFL teams or teams on the rise. They are Atlanta, Cleveland, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Miami, New York Giants, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco and Tampa Bay. All the other teams are run by either Head Coaches or lawyer/management types who build consensus without completely knowing the Draft board themselves, which is a dangerous game.
It always amazed me to see front office people having a say in the Draft Room without first hand knowledge of the investment about to be made. Sure there are trades to be made but that is an academic part a couple cap guys or office assistants can master.
Leave it to Arthur Blank, the highly successful businessman (co-founder Home Depot) to figure out the perfect business model for Atlanta. Other models have worked. New England Patriots (Bill Belichick) and the New York Jets (Mike Tannenbaum) are two non-scout run franchises who have been very successful. There are always exceptions to any rule.
It appears though that the “scout” model is the wave of the future, especially looking at Super Bowl winner Green Bay, run by Road Warrior Scout Ted Thompson, who spends no less than 240 days per year on the road himself. Don’t expect the Packers to fall back to mediocrity any time soon. These are billion dollar businesses with player salaries rising over one hundred million per year.
I would hope that owners have now figured out that putting a “personnel guy” in charge, someone who knows and has done the evaluation on these large investments is the only way to have true accountability. Otherwise, you are cheating yourself and your loyal fan base.
There is an old saying “sports are basic”. Don’t over think it owners. You win with talent. So put a scout / personnel guy in charge, like Arthur Blank did and your chance for success increases dramatically!
Dave Razzano is a former NFL scout and Playmaker Mobile correspondent with more than 22 years of professional scouting experience with the San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals under NFL coaches including Bill Walsh, George Seifert, Chuck Knox and Dick Vermeil. He's been a part of five Super Bowls with three Super Bowl wins (49ers, 1989, 1990; Rams, 2000).