This week, I wanted to pass along one more note for NFL scouting hopefuls that may or may not help.

When I moved to Houston in ’97, I wanted nothing more than to work on the Houston Chronicle’s sports desk. I was already a Chronicle employee, but I worked for a section of the paper called ThisWeek, a zoned advertising circular that was one step above being a janitor.

Anyway, on Fridays in the fall, the sports department would put out a call to everyone in the building for help during high school football. Of course, I volunteered, but I didn’t really get to show what I could do. The job I had was pretty much to answer the phone and enter statistical information about whatever game the caller had. I sat in a room with about 50 people, and the job we did was about what a monkey could do. But hey, it was pay, and for me, I felt like I was getting closer to hitting the big-time.

However, because I was there, I got to know a few people on the desk, so when the Olympics created extra work, or when the Super Bowl came to town, I got the call. It was after one of those sessions that the sports editor wound up offering me a job on the desk, the one thing I had always wanted. I turned it down, of course, but that’s another story.

The point is, the only reason I got a shot was because I happened to be in Houston, and happened to hear of an opportunity, and after a short time, the right people got to know me and gave me a shot. I wasn’t any better than maybe thousands of people who could do the same work, but the point was that I was already in Houston.

I spoke to two young, aspiring scouts this week, and both of them are located within the metro area of an NFL team. They’ve already learned what it took me years to learn, and they’ve made key contacts with teams and they’re working to make their dreams a reality. As a result, I think both of them have at least a 50-50 shot. But if they weren’t in a specific geographical region, I doubt it would ever happen.

If you are serious about becoming an NFL scout, I recommend you do the same thing. Find a way to get to a nearby town with an NFL team, then find a way to get inside that building. Maybe it’s securing a job working in ticket sales, or volunteering to help with a football-related event (maybe a player’s summer football camp), or anything else that gets you close to someone in the game.

If you can’t get to an NFL city, go to the biggest football-playing school near you and volunteer to do anything. Sweep the floors if necessary. But you’ve got to get your face in front of people who could make things happen for you. Being there is absolutely crucial.

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