Hat In The Ring

Super Bowl 39




GORDONVILLE — There are jobs, and then there are callings.

And some people were made to fill roles, lest they not be self-actualized and the world a little bit a lesser and lonelier place for not having them there.

Imagine Shakespeare having never written a word.

Imagine Sinatra never singing.

Imagine Springsteen never picking up a guitar.

Imagine Spock not on the Enterprise to provide logic when others were losing their cool.

Here’s another example: Imagine me not in a NFL front office.

I was made to fill the type of role recently vacated by Howie Roseman, who was unceremoniously demoted into a promotion by being forced to trade in his stop watch used for the scouting combine in exchange for an updated salary cap computer program that is compatible with Windows 8.

Roseman was the GM, but now he is the executive vice president – and he even gets to oversee the training staff, equipment and hot dog vendors.

In his place, will be more of a “football guy” to, in theory, work more harmoniously with head coach Chip Kelly.

Who will it be?

Who knows?

For the record, I am using this missive to formally throw my hat – and I have many now, since there is a burgeoning bald spot to cover – into the proverbial ring for consideration.

I know I have no shot, which is kind of shame.

It’s a shame for Eagles Nation, which remains starved for a Lombardi Trophy. The last time the Eagles won the NFL title, it was against Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers in 1960, five years before I was born and seven years before there even was a Super Bowl.

And it’s a shame for me, because it would be more than just a job.

It would be a calling.  I would not be some mercenary building his resume so I can move to another position with another franchise.

So far, and it’s not because I’m midnight green with envy or anything, the list of interviewees for the job has been a bit underwhelming.

I half expect the next guy to come through town to be the former assistant to the former assistant personnel/promotions guy for the Chicago Bliss in the LFL (Lingerie Football League).

Actually, I fully expect it – if they happen to have a surname with NFL royalty, like Polian.

And that ain’t me.

I ain’t no fortunate son.

But I am qualified.

Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated with drafts. Any draft. Any sport. Any time.

But the NFL draft is king.

I always purchased every reputable draft publication necessary, and the Internet has provided supplemental information.

Before you LOL (or is it “ha ha” these days?), don’t write me off as just another Draftnik.

My track record is pretty good.

I don’t take any one single publication or site as gospel, but I draw a consensus and match them up against the Eagles’ short- and long-term needs – and schemes – to lay a yearly strategy.

This may sound a bit sophomoric, but the sad truth is that I could have sat in a locked room with my information and easily done a better job than the Eagles, through different coaches and personnel “geniuses,” over the passage of generations (and three owners).

Imagine my crude approach if you gave me a few scouts – and a few “football” guys, namely coaches and an assistant with a draft track record (the Eagles employed a chap name Phil Savage a few years back as an adviser  and netted some results) – to bounce names off of first.

This would be my main selling point in an interview. Teams are built through the draft. Period. You sign free agents to put you over the top after the foundation is built via the draft.

If the Eagles asked me what I would have done differently in the Kelly-Roseman era, I would tell them.

And tell them and tell them.

Not to go too deep into it now – I will lay out my full 2015 plan if and when they hire someone else for my job – but imagine Kelvin Benjamin, the guy who made two circus touchdown catches for Carolina against Seattle’s all-world secondary, as an Eagles instead of Marcus Smith (zero tackles all season).

However, I would also tell the Eagles I didn’t think Roseman was a bad GM, and certainly not one who should have been X-ed out of the equation after the second consecutive 10-6 season (after the Eagles were completely off the radar at 4-12 in 2012). He made mistakes in the past, particularly in what was an increasingly dysfunctional situation with the last coach, but I was always taught that mistakes are not mistakes unless one doesn’t learn from them.

Only a fly on the wall could tell who was to blame for what recent miscue, but I have a hunch it was a team effort.

It usually is.

For whatever reason, Roseman was pushed out – and Tom Gamble was escorted out – and a spot, the one seemingly tailor-made for me, has opened up.

I’m not a former player, at least not in the traditional sense. Yeah, I did play briefly in college, if special-teams duty in flag football counts (something about chasing after another dude, trying to pull a flag from his waist kind of ended that career).

Even though my preferred sport was hockey, a football game – touch, rough-touch, tackle in the snow – tended to break out more often than not. In Northeast Philly, one kid with a Nerf football emerging from his house was more realistic than two nets and two sets of goalie equipment – let alone enough sticks and a ball.

I was pretty good, though peaking in my middle teens. Couldn’t get deep too often as the years passed, but I hardly ever dropped a pass (picture Gregg Garrity with a Jewfro).

Every Friday after school, we used to play the same black kids in football – until the spring, when it was basketball – in some classic down-to-the-wire encounters. This was far from a race riot. We were all friends, often sticking up for one another in the hallways. We would bust on each other during the week about the previous week’s game and playfully trash talk during the games.

If the Eagles were to hire me, more on the merits of my innate personnel skills, the fans would be able to know I once knocked heads so hard with a kid that we both had concussions. In the ER, they had to give me a butterfly bandage around my swollen and discolored eye to stop the bleeding.

This battle scar, which can still be seen, left me having to convince members of the fairer sex that I had not been beaten up over the weekend.

I guess this would help me earn some street cred with the E-A-G-L-E-S hard-hat types, especially if they learned that my migraines – above this same eye – were worse ever since, leading to a seizure in 2005 that left me with a separated shoulder.

Personally, I still don’t quite get the wherefores and whys behind the need to have some oft-concussed ex-player sitting in the GM’s chair. Not knocking it, if it works out, but the front-office graveyard – in all sports – is littered with ex-jocks while those wearing those rings we find elusive often do not fit the mode.

But in Philadelphia’s blue-collar town, guys like Roseman – with a voice than sounds like it was created by deep inhale of helium – are trying to swim upstream with a cinder-block attached in the court of public opinion.

When the Eagles do well, it’s all Chip. When they fall short of expectations, Howie takes the fall.

Honestly, though, I would not be another Roseman. I would probably agree more with Kelly and his vision for building a long-range winner than with a bottom line that would create a turnstile at the locker room door at the end of each season, leaving the team safely under the cap and always able to retain a few targeted players, but not good enough to maintain the culture required for titles and … for matching the right people with the right callings.

Imagine that.

The column also appeared at http://www.phillyphanatics.com

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