I’ve been a huge proponent of technology in the day to day operations of professional football for years. When I first starting working for the Denver Broncos back in 1992, there was one PC in the Personnel Department that did nothing but blink a green curser on a black screen for hour after hour. The tracking of transactions and players was done by hand and on paper.
You want me to do what?
I felt like a Franciscan monk morphed into a Player Personnel Assistant. My job was to transcribe player movement in a ½ inch square box grid on 8 ½ X 11 paper every day. Day after day, week after week, month after month! The only way to make it fit was using a fine point mechanical pencil and writing in cryptic code.
Evidently this was the way the Dallas Cowboys had operated for years and how the then personnel chiefs felt it had to be done as well (Dan Reeves had brought Dallas scouts with him). Another method to their madness included the ever popular label and magnet system. This is where you keep track of NFL rosters, Free Agency and the annual draft on magnetized floor to ceiling white boards. It literally is the inspiration for the popular saying “moving up the board”.
A waste of effort and money
Scouting reports and other information were kept in 6” blue and orange binders; stacked row after row, floor to ceiling. In defense of this system, it’s very labor intensive and created a lot of entry level jobs for many a personnel man. But it struck me as one of the most inefficient data management systems ever. Massive amounts of player information was compiled and filed into the orange and blue, yet never really looked at by decision makers. If knowledge is power, those that new the Dewey decimal for these binders were king in the player personnel world. Scouts went to exhaustive measures to finish hand written reports, accordingly placed under the correct tabs and never looked at again.
I’ve always believed in working hard, but working smart is even better. That’s a difficult proposition to make in an industry that can be burdened by status quo.
So once this regime was fired (imagine that), I was the only person in Player Personnel that knew where anything was and could quickly assemble anything you needed on a player. I took this opportunity and ran with it, as fast as I could!
Enter the computer
I had a solid working knowledge of database systems (Air Force Intelligence) and how they could store and query information for just about any topic. Soon that would include the Denver Bronco scouting department. Computers not only became the norm, we took them to a new level in Denver. Though they’ll never admit it, I know the other 31 teams were light years behind us!
To be continued……..