I think I’ve referenced today’s story before, but I thought I’d tell it in full in the words of my friend Miller McCalmon, a former scout with Washington, Houston and Detroit who also coached at several NFL stops. It goes well with our theme this week of pursuing jobs in March.
It details the lengths he had to go to in order to work for free as an NFL scout. Incidentally, if you’d rather watch him tell this story rather than reading it, click here.
“They didn’t know what to do with interns. It’s kind of interesting. Does anyone know who John Ralston (was)? He was head coach at Stanford University in the 70s, then he was the head football coach of the Denver Broncos (from 1972-76). Well, I was in high school coaching and I wrote him a letter . . . because I wanted to get into something besides high school coaching.
“I wrote him a letter and he visited with me, and I went down to his office, and we talked about it, and he was a great guy, great motivating coach and all that stuff, but he said, ‘well, we don’t have interns and graduate assistants like you have on the college level,’ so he kind of pooh-poohed it. But I still wrote (a letter to the Washington Redskins), because I remember in the Sports Illustrated article, (‘70s Redskins head coach) George (Allen) talking about (having an interest in hiring high school coaches as scouts).
“So I wrote the letter, and one of the stipulations of becoming an intern was my dad had to co-sign a letter of credit for me, because (Allen) didn’t want us to go there without any financial backing. . . What’s really interesting about the whole thing is that this was 1976, and I was the head football coach (at a Colorado high school), assistant basketball coach, and I taught history and earth science, and I was making $15,000 a year doing all those things. I went to the NFL for nothing, with a $10,000 line of credit, but they would give me $600 to go out on the road, so I actually ended up making more money working for nothing than I did as a high school coach, which tells you something about high school and public education and that sort of thing. Which is kind of sad, but it is kind of a commentary about it.”
You may want to be an NFL scout with all your heart. But would you be willing to ask your parents to go $10,000 into debt to make your dreams come true? And to work for free while they were taking on that debt?
It’s something to think about. There’s always a price to pay, and a risk to take. But if you succeed, as Miller did, it’s well worth it.