What Exactly Does Each Member of an NFL Team's Front Office Do?
Ever wonder what the job responsibilities are for NFL front office members?
Running an NFL team is a complex task. You have to hire coaches, write and negotiate player contracts, scout and draft college players, formulate marketing strategies in your team’s region, set ticket prices, employ stadium vendors, acquire stadium advertisers and much more.
With so much to accomplish, it is no surprise teams delegate the duties throughout numerous factions of front office members.
To detail every position for every NFL team would be a tireless, cumbersome read. So for the purpose of this article, let’s concern ourselves with who does the bulk of the work.
But before we get started, I must first note that there are vernacular disagreements among front office positions. For example, some teams label their CEO as the team’s chairman, or their general manager will instead be classified as their vice president.
Keeping that in mind, this list will distinguish four significant front office positions that either execute or delegate the majority of work for an NFL team.
In the NFL, the general manager is the highest standing employee in the team’s personnel department.
He answers directly to the owner and has final veto power on all player-related decisions the team makes. Job responsibilities include hiring the head coach, building the remainder of the personnel department staff, coordinating the rubric for scouting college prospects and compiling the team's roster in accordance to the NFL’s salary cap.
Clearly, the general manager can’t possibly handle all of these tasks personally. He divvies up the labor amongst his other front office staffers, but the general manager ultimately is accountable for all of the team’s personnel decisions.
When a team lands a Hall of Fame quarterback like Peyton Manning in the draft, it won’t be the lead scouts who are recognized and attributed with the home run selection: It’s the general manager.
Conversely, when a team drafts a bust like Ryan Leaf, the scouts who propped him up and recommended the selection are not held to the fire, it’s the general manager.
General managers are starting to receive more public attribution for the essential role they play in an NFL team's success, but that praise comes at a price. At the conclusion of the 2012 season, six general managers were fired, and with Carolina firing theirs during the regular season, the total number of axed general mangers in 2012 was seven.
That number is the highest in league history.
Director of Pro Personnel
Reporting directly to the general manager, the director of player personnel deals primarily with the players already in the NFL.
Job responsibilities include the bulk of the contract negotiations with free agents, negotiating contract extensions with current players and scouting the other 31 NFL teams' rosters—scouting other teams is typically delegated amongst a number of league scouts under the team’s employ, who answer directly to the DOPP.
Some DOPP thrive on their mastery of writing contracts, others on their ability to scout current NFL players and compile the best available roster.
There is no one way to operate, but many general managers make a name for themselves first as directors of player personnel. To name a few current general managers that first served as directors of player personnel: San Diego’s Tom Telesco, Cleveland’s Michael Lombardi and Tampa Bay’s Mark Dominik.
Director of College Scouting
The director of college scouting is the position that organizes the team’s draft board.
This job requires combing all levels of college football and attributing grades to each player. Typically the director will delegate the scouting duties amongst a small staff responsible for certain regions of the country.
The tasks are not limited to evaluating the physical talents of college players, as directors are also responsible for doing background checks on players to gauge their work ethic and to prognosticate any non-football issues that could arise. This requires maintaining relationships with college coaches throughout the country.
The NFL draft is often the foundation of a successful NFL team, and the job of the director of college scouting is to make the selection of a player as informed as possible.
This essential position varies in title more than any other on this list.
Sometimes it is referred to as "team president" or "chairman." Some teams employ both a president and a CEO and others, like the Packers, Bears and Bills, classify one employee as both the CEO and president.
Regardless of the title, the CEO in this sense is the head honcho of the business side of the NFL team. Answering directly to the owner, the CEO handles the enormous finances for an NFL team.
Job responsibilities include seeking advertisers, marketing the team's brand, setting ticket prices, coordinating the team's travel logistics, stadium maintenance, payroll and other similar tasks.
That being said, the CEO doesn’t sit at his desk and ponder whether upper-level end-zone tickets should be $55 or $60. He largely oversees all of the business-related departments and hires the heads of each.