We’ll depart from our discussion of the life of an NFL scout by sharing a success story from a member of the ITL family.
Tyler Lyon is a former quarterback at the University of Arizona with a love for the game and strong roots in the gridiron (his father is the athletic director and former head coach at College of the Canyons in Valencia, Calif.). He wanted to make football his life and profession, so after completing his second year of law school, he decided to pursue a personnel internship with an NFL team.
Yesterday, Tyler emailed me, along with another associate who’d provided help and counsel, Chris Barry of Powerhouse GM, to tell us he’d been hired to a paid summer internship with the Chargers. Naturally, Chris and I were overjoyed. My first question was, what will be your duties there?
“They said something about evaluating special teams guys,” Tyler said. “Nothing too crazy as far as the evaluation aspect and the opportunity to show what I can do. I’ll be breaking down film, giving guys rides, checking schedules and helping with the busy work they have to do.”
Tyler was kind enough to talk to me about how he made it happen, and there was one recurring theme. He said a major reason he’d made the cut was the support of one of his former coaches that he declined to name.
“The thing I’d tell anyone trying to do this, especially if they had a a college football background, would be to make sure you have a good relationship with (your coaches) because that’s the first person (NFL officials) are going to call. They called my offensive coordinator, and I had gotten injured at the end of my career, and he helped me stay on and help coach, and I think that’s one of the reasons (the Chargers) called was to learn more about me.”
In that respect, Tyler’s story is so common. In the NFL, as in life, you have to have a champion, a person who believes you and who is willing to help. For Lyon, it was his OC. For new Bucs GM Jason Licht, it was his former defensive coordinator at Nebraska, Charlie McBride.
Then there’s Jim Hess, a former Cowboys scout who’s been a bit of a champion for me in my own career. Here, he recounts the story of playing a role in ‘discovering’ Cowboys QB Tony Romo. In this clip, at the :57 mark, he discusses how, throughout his own career, he always had someone helping him get the jobs he earned.
Tyler had the good sense to build great relationships during his playing career, and it helped him beat the odds and get selected from a pile of applications that numbered in the 300s. Obviously, not everyone is talented enough to play college football, but one way or another, succeeding in football often pivots on finding that one person with a giving heart who believes in you.
You might find that champion after you volunteer at a football camp. You might find him after serving as manager of the local football team. It might be as a result of helping high school players find college scholarships. It’s true for people across the football industry, and probably across all professions.
If you’re aspiring to be an NFL scout some day, keep this in mind.