The XFL’s opening weekend was a smashing success, both from a broadcast standpoint as well as attendance, and it has the full attention of those in the football business community. Still, there’s a facet to the excitement that I think many are missing.

What do Bears Assistant Director of Player Personnel Champ Kelly (indoor football GM), Browns area scout Gerald McCully (CFL scout), Tampa Bay scouting coordinator Cesar Rivera (AFL scout), Chiefs national scout Cassidy Kaminski (scouted for an Australian team), Colts NFS scout Mike Lacy (AFL scout) and many other NFL evaluators have in common? They all got their start in alternative leagues. The XFL has a long way to go before it shows the staying power of the CFL (or even the now-defunct Arena Football League), but the early returns are promising.

This is great news for aspiring NFL scouts. While the best routes into scouting remain working in college personnel or, even better, having a father who’s in the NFL, there’s an opportunity here. However, you have to know how to take advantage. Here’s what I recommend.

  • Reach out: Daryl Johnston and Bob Morris (Dallas), Blake Beddingfield and Randy Mueller (Houston), Trip MacCracken (New York), Jeff Bauer (St. Louis) and Tony Softli (Seattle) are all XFL (and former NFL) scouts and evaluators on Twitter. Most of them are also my friends, and I can attest to them being good people. If you reach out to them with the right attitude, you’ve got a great shot at making contact. God knows they have plenty on their plate and could probably use some help. But first . . . .
  • Make it clear you’ll do anything: Every XFL team has a bare-bones evaluation staff, and that’s by design; the league has made an affirmative decision to reduce costs by centralizing evaluation. Still, these teams are playing to win and they need help sorting out the good players from the bad. But first, you have to prove that you are hard-working and reliable. That means you might have to run errands, load and unload, make copies, bring coffee, whatever. Make it clear you are elated to do this.
  • Don’t send scouting reports: Believe me, I get it. You want to show your passion for football. You want to show that you are fluent in the game. All those things are important. Still, the first thing most aspiring scouts want to send is a resume and scouting reports, and the last thing most scouts I know want is same. You need to impress upon them your willingness to do anything before you assert your eye for talent.
  • Be there: This is the one thing that is most often overlooked. If you already live in an XFL city, you have a huge advantage over everyone else. The same is true if you’re trying to volunteer with virtually any team in any league. Maybe it was Woody Allen who said, “showing up is 80 percent of success. Maybe it wasn’t. It’s still true.

Do all these things and maybe you’re the next Will McClay, Vice President of Player Personnel for the Cowboys. Back in 2001, he was Director of Player Personnel of the XFL’s Orlando Rage.

Want more ideas on how to break into the NFL? It starts with knowing what’s going on behind the scenes. You can get a really good handle on that by reading our Friday Wrap, which comes out this afternoon. You can register for it here.