The most important position on an NFL team? The NFL Owners

I was recently on a radio program out of Kansas City discussing the various aspects of the search for the Chiefs’ new head coach.  After what could be construed as two failures under the current regime of front office management, owner Clark Hunt has decided to take matters into his own hands.  Hunt had just finished a reported 9 hour interview with candidate Any Reid, former head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Is the Head Coach the most important position?

We talked a bit about some of my perceptions on what makes a good head coach; leadership, executive presence, power vs authority leader, etc…  These aren’t always the first things people think of when NFL clubs start their search process.  Most of the fans and media focus in on the individual’s influence on offensive or defensive statistics and rankings, as the majority of candidates will usually be mustered from the ranks of coordinators.  Others look for past success in hopes they can recreate the same with their own beleaguered team.  What’s forgotten is that the dynamics that affect each of the 32 clubs throughout an NFL season are unique to the given situation.  The combination of 53 players, the coaching staff assembled, the front office management initiated, the financial parameters construed upon operations, and list goes on and on.

But as we whittled through the requirements, one of the hosts asked if head coach wasn’t the most important position within an NFL organization?  Easy answer – NO.  Not even close.  Head Coach is only part of the overall puzzle that makes up the club, no more or less important than having a franchise quarterback or a keen eyed talent evaluator at General Manager.  They’re all important and each serves it role in the success or failure of the franchise.  The most important position (or person) within an NFL organization is its OWNER.  Ownership is first and foremost.

Identity is through ownership

Ownership sets the tone for everything.  Coaches, scouts, players, administrators, trainers, equipment managers, IT specialists, videographers. . . these are all interchangeable and expendable positions.  More focus, responsibility, and evaluation should be placed on NFL ownership.  It’s how they choose to define the identity of their organizations that will ultimately lead to whether they can produce a successful product for their fans.

Building Championship teams

NFL owners establish the mission of their club.  You’d think that most are seeking to win a Super Bowl Championship, but by the looks of some decisions that are made that doesn’t always appear to be the case.  The selection of club leadership through the head coach or general manager lies directly on the shoulders of owners.  These men or women will be responsible for providing the focus, unified efforts, detailed direction, and standards of excellence necessary to achieve success in the National Football League.  Choose the wrong head coach and certainly it can be crippling to club for a number of years, but that buck ultimately stops with the owner.

Ownership can also create a working environment that provides the resources in the various capacities necessary to develop top performers throughout the franchise.  A stifling work environment in any industry doesn’t promote maximized performance at any level.  NFL owners should make the necessary investments in their number one assets, their people, to ensure both long term growth and stability in their club.  Owners have the opportunity to selectively place productive individuals throughout the different facets of operations, expanding their experience & expertise by allowing them to learn & influence other areas of the organization.

If ownership defines the mission, selects the most talented people and works to develop them, they’ll be well on their way to actual execution of a plan towards success both on and off the field.  This plan incorporates open communication, strategic use of technologies, supplementation of outside experts, ongoing analysis, systems of financial feedback, creative problems solving techniques, and historical perspectives of past accomplishments.  Strong NFL owners know how to deal with adversity and maintain excellence through times of success.

Many might argue that NFL owners should just hire/fire the GM or head coach, and then get the hell out of the way.  I disagree.  It’s their team that represents the city and its fan base.  Take charge, take control, and set the tone by using the very same team building principles that made you successful enough off the field to earn the right of being an NFL owner on it.  How does your team’s owner measure up?

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