On Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m., I’ll be interviewing former NFL scout Miller McCalmon before an audience from the Rice Sports Business Society. We’ll talk about his experiences in scouting and he’ll tell a few war stories, as well as imparting his advice on how to break into the the sports business in general and professional football specifically. Today I did the pre-interview over lunch at a Houston restaurant.
I’ve interviewed five or six former NFL scouts (and have the videos archived at ITL), and every time I do it, the pre-interview is a lot of fun for a football weirdo like me. You get to hear all kinds of stories about players and front office types that you’d never read anywhere else, and I always learn something, or at least get something reinforced that I already know. Today was no exception.
Miller has almost four decades in the game (38 years, to be exact). His story of getting hired by the Redskins as a scout (his first job in pro football) will probably turn up in a War Story Wednesday one day because it’s quite interesting, but the real takeaway I got from his story was that he came in just one year ahead of Charley Casserly, who went on to be a GM with the Redskins and Texans. They were both hired by legendary Redskins head coach George Allen, and that’s about the last time Miller got a job from someone he didn’t know beforehand.
At that time in the early-to-mid 70s, Miller was head coach at a high school in Colorado, but wanted to move over to college coaching. He went into scouting because, frankly, Allen regarded the draft lightly and sent his interns into scouting. Miller eventually moved on to other teams (the Bills and Colts) before getting back into scouting with the Redskins. At that point, Casserly had moved up the ranks, and brought him back to Washington. Later in his career, Miller was working with the BLESTO scouting service when Casserly came to Houston to launch the Texans franchise as its GM and hired him again, this time as a pro scout.
After the Texans scouting staff got sacked in the late ’00s, Martin Mayhew had risen to GM in Detroit. Mayhew had played for the Redskins when Casserly and McCalmon were in Washington, and even interned in the front office at one point. Through that connection, Miller was able to finish out his career with the Lions before retiring in January.
If you read this blog regularly, you know that maintaining relationships and building strong bonds with your coworkers is a recurring theme. I thought I’d pass along today’s story just to reinforce that lesson.