06-16-2013, 10:57 PM
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The overwhelming popularity of the National Football League has created a new occupation for former general managers and player personnel directors:
Television sports analyst.
Networks have added the NFL's suit-and-tie crowd at a rapidly increasing rate over the past couple of years: Bill Polian, a six-time NFL Executive of the Year, is an analyst for ESPN's SportsCenter, NFL Live and the network's draft coverage, and he'll soon be joined by former GMs Billy Devaney (Rams) and Phil Savage (Browns) as part of ESPN's "NFL Insiders" show that debuts on Aug. 5. The NFL Network uses former Redskins and Texans GM Charley Casserly as an insider, a job he held for CBS Sports from 2006 to 2012. Michael Lombardi held Casserly's role for four years at the NFL Network before he was returned to the NFL in a management position with the Browns. Then there is Gil Brandt, the former VP of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, who has become arguably the most famous voice on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
Add Scott ***** to that list.
NBC Sports has hired the former Chiefs general manager for its Football Night In America studio program. ***** will appear weekly on either the FNIA studio set in New York City or at the game site of Sunday Night Football. He'll also appear every Monday on the NBC Sports Network's Pro Football Talk in segments with FNIA analyst Rodney Harrison.
***** said NBC Sports executives have told him they want him to be an "informationalist." He described that position as "being able to talk about experiences, tie them into what is happening currently, and attempt to educate fans and viewers about how things really work behind the scenes."
*****'s segments will be a work in progress. On some weeks, he'll appear in-studio with analysts Tony Dungy and Harrison or with Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio and reporter Peter King. NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood said he also might send ***** to the Sunday Night Football game site, where he'd appear with host Bob Costas and analyst Hines Ward. (*****, whose wife, Dallas, is the daughter of Bill Parcells, will remain based in Kansas City).
"I just saw another smart football mind that gives us a different perspective that we don't have on the team right now -- a player personnel guy who has a smart way of looking at the game," said Flood. "We will try him in different areas throughout the show and it will all depend on his development. "I told Scott he'll earn his airtime."
*****, who SI.com named the NFL's top personnel executive/scout of the 2000s, was fired by the Chiefs last January after his teams went 23-41 in his four years. ***** said he was contacted shortly by a number of different TV networks and NFL teams after he lost his job. Intending to show ***** they were serious about him as a potential broadcaster, NBC Sports executive Dan Steir flew out to Kansas City in January to pitch him on the network. ***** picked Steir up at the airport and they had a long dinner together at a local steakhouse. Then, at this year's Super Bowl in New Orleans, Flood spoke with ***** about the prospects of him appearing on FNIA.
"I am evaluator by nature so I wanted to spend time taking it all in to make a thoughtful decision," said *****, who made appearances on NBC Sports, NFL Network, and Sirius XM Radio leading up to the NFL Scouting Combine. "I decided this would be a great, new opportunity. Evaluating in my old job the things I did well and the things I did not do well, I certainly believe understanding the media and what their job is was something I did not do a good job of. I thought this was a good opportunity to learn and grow, and get better in a lot of different areas."
***** said he is familiar with most of the on-air talent at FNIA. Harrison was a member of the Patriots when ***** served as that team's vice president of player personnel and ***** said he has known analyst Dungy and Sunday Night Football executive producer Fred Gaudelli for years.
Asked about his comfort level regarding being critical of former colleagues and friends in the league, ***** said, "I think there is a big difference between criticizing the performance and criticizing the performer. I am not going to be a person who criticizes people. Most of my background in the media is theoretical and academic so I have not entered the realm, but I think that is part of our obligation in the media is to try not to make it personal."
It will be interesting to see ***** comment on the uber-secretive nature of NFL organizations, especially in the wake of this blistering piece last year in the Kansas City Star by Washington Post NFL writer Kent Babb, who covered ***** in Kansas City.
***** said it was too early to evaluate whether he would be interested in returning to the NFL, or whether he would even get that opportunity.
"This was the first time since 1991 that I have not been part of an NFL draft and it felt very different," ***** said. "I don't know what I'll feel like in September or October. If I sit here and think I'll be doing this the next 20 years and I'm not good at it, I will get run out. To me, it's a year to year thing from the standpoint that people will be evaluating me as well as I will be evaluating the situation."
"I see something special in the guy in the conversations we have had," Flood said. "If he wants to be in the television side of it, I hope he's with our family for a long time."
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