For today’s WSW, I ran down a few stories from ex-NFL defensive back (Seahawks, 1989-1993) and ex-NFL scout (Saints, 2000-2007) James Jefferson. He’s now a high school football coach in Texas. To watch my entire discussion with James, during which he talks about his experiences in scouting and the finer points of player evaluation, click here.
He said landing a job with the Saints came from his playing days in Seattle, when he’d developed a friendship with then-Seahawks Vice President of Football Operations Randy Mueller.
“Well, as it came about, I was finished playing ball, so I’d come back (to Kingsville, Texas, where he’d gone to college) and wanted to get my degree and wanted to get into coaching. So I was back, and went to New Orleans to visit a buddy of mine. They had hired a new general manager at the time, and it was Randy Mueller, and I knew Randy very, very well. He was one of the reasons, as a player, that I went to Seattle, from Canada. And I just so happened to stop by the office, and didn’t get to see him but left my resume. We stayed in touch and what have you, and it got down to the last week, and they were ready to go, and he called me up and said, ‘Hey, are you really serious about doing this?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I really am, I like to learn.’ And I had kinda told him while I was playing ball that I wouldn’t mind getting in this business. I went out and interviewed and he gave me the job. It was a good deal.
“I was fortunate with Randy. Randy kinda trusted me and I really trusted him. He’s the type of guy that, he believed in what guys around him said. He really took to heart what guys around him said. He made that transition for me (from player to scout) very easy.”
I asked James if it’s different for scouts who, liked him, played in the NFL.
“Oh yeah, easily, especially with the guys who played (in the NFL). It was a brotherhood of scouts, and then inside that, you had a subculture brotherhood of scouts that played the game (on the NFL level), because you already have that anyway. Guys that played the game, there’s a select few that get that opportunity to play the game . . . and guys still respect that. When you got into that, you get in with those guys, and you had that big culture group, which is your scout group, then that subculture in the middle, that you either played (with) or played against them. It was pretty neat.”
I also asked him his thoughts on information-sharing between scouts. Where did team loyalty begin and camaraderie end?
“That was a fine line. That was a very, very fine line of how to do things. You’re told, certainly, you can’t let a lot of information out from your team, but at the same time, maybe it was a guy that could get information from a coach at the school that he knew that was in our area. We could kinda use that and work with that, without giving up any team secrets.
“It’s a very fine line and it’s really kinda hard to explain, I guess, but we’d talk, and I think there’s a line somewhere and you have to know where it is. Every team had one. Do I think that it made the some of the management guys a little nervous sometimes? Probably so, but they do the same thing. That’s just the nature of the business without giving up a lot of team secrets like who you’re drafting, or who you’re looking at. But all you have to do is pay attention. It’s kinda hard to hide anything these days. “