For today’s section of our interview with Angry Scouting Vet (@angryscout), we discuss the state and value of young scouts across the industry. It’s something he’s been pretty vocal about, so I thought I’d get a sense of where he sees more youthful evaluators fitting into the business. What he gave us is, to me, must-read content for anyone aspiring to work for an NFL team.
You’ve spoken extensively about the value of experienced scouts vs. younger scouts. If you could build your own staff, how would you structure it regarding experience? Is there a place for younger scouts in the game?
“I started as a young scout when there weren’t a great number of them in the NFL. I have ZERO problem with having younger scouts on your staff. If I was building a staff, it would be a nice balance between veterans and youth, with the youth understanding that in the beginning of their careers that they DON’T KNOW SQUAT, and that they are expected to learn from the veterans, who in turn should be head over heels willing to teach and educate the youth to do things the right way. My only problem with younger scouts is that some of them don’t know that they don’t know, and use their mouths way more than their ears. That being said, if you subscribe to the philosophy that ‘there is no such thing as a bad student, only a bad teacher’ — I do…for the most part- — a lot of these younger guys haven’t been taught the right way, whether that’s referring to actual philosophies and methods as a part of the daily business of scouting, or just the reality that when you are first starting out in the business that you really don’t know anything. You can’t have all the answers; you haven’t seen enough or been able to make enough comparisons. It’s great (and necessary) to have an opinion, but when you’re still inexperienced, you should keep your mouth shut, your ears open, and only share that opinion when you’re asked for it. Then again, now teams are hiring GMs and personnel directors who aren’t qualified for their positions either, so it’s not just a scout problem.
“I love working with young scouts, as long as they show that they are willing to be realistic about their knowledge base and have a desire to learn from someone who has been there; are hard-working and willing to do things the right way; and have good character. I feel that this is a responsibility that veteran scouts have to the profession, to keep the scouting ‘circle of life” going in the right direction and teaching our up-and-coming scouts to do things the right way and then, hopefully, carry out the education process themselves someday when they are the veteran and there is a new batch of younger scouts. The problem with this whole process is that there aren’t as many veteran scouts that share my mindset on this issue, but it’s not entirely their fault. In order to properly educate young scouts, three things need to be present: the veteran scout must himself have a good and proper knowledge base (believe me, there are vets who barely know a stopwatch from a t-square if they weren’t taught or taught badly); the veteran scout must be capable of teaching (not everybody has that talent or is that patient); and most importantly, that veteran scout must be WILLING to teach. The problem with the last (and most important) element, being WILLING to teach, is for one, there are far too many insecure people in the NFL who don’t want to pass on knowledge to anyone else because they feel that they will somehow lessen themselves by helping others, or that the people they’re teaching will eventually replace them. Secondly, and this is the real issue I have with loading up on younger scouts on a staff, there are GMs who will get rid of veteran scouts simply because “they make too much money” and replace them with a 20-something that knows nothing so that they can pay them an obscenely low amount of money. This is insanely disrespectful to the profession; 1) there is no scouting salary cap, so that move, strictly for a financial basis, is totally unnecessary, and 2) it degrades those who have earned their stripes and mastered the art that is scouting.”