How to Become an NFL General Manager (GM)

Understanding the Role of an NFL General Manager

The position of an NFL General Manager (GM) is highly sought after.

This individual is essentially the executive in charge of the team’s player personnel decisions, negotiating contracts, managing the salary cap, and generally overseeing the football operations of the team.

It’s a role that requires a deep understanding of the game, strong leadership skills, and the ability to make tough decisions.

Acquire a Strong Educational Background

Many NFL GMs have a strong educational foundation in areas like sports management, business, or law.

Acquiring a degree in any of these fields can provide you with the necessary theoretical knowledge and business acumen.

Pursuing a Master’s degree in a related field can further bolster your credentials.

Furthermore, many GMs also possess law degrees, which come in handy when negotiating player contracts and understanding the legal aspects of running a team.

Gain Relevant Experience

Before becoming a GM, most professionals gain experience in other roles within a football organization.

Positions such as a scout, player personnel assistant, or team operations coordinator are common starting points.

Aspiring GMs should focus on roles that will give them an in-depth understanding of player evaluation and team management, as well as a working knowledge of the NFL’s complex rules around contracts and salary caps.

Learn to Evaluate Talent

One of the most critical skills for an NFL GM is the ability to identify and evaluate talent.

This goes beyond just knowing how to spot a good player – it includes understanding a player’s potential value to the team and the league, assessing their physical and mental attributes, and projecting their future performance.

Gaining experience in scouting roles can help you develop these skills.

Below is a video on everything that goes into being an NFL GM (watching on YouTube is required, as they don’t let us play it here):

EVERYTHING That Goes into Being an NFL General Manager | NFL Explained

Networking and Building Relationships

In the world of professional sports, who you know can be just as important as what you know.

Building a strong network of relationships with people in the industry is crucial.

This includes relationships with players, coaches, scouts, and other executives. Attending sports industry events and making the most of every professional opportunity can help you establish these important connections.

Rise Through the Ranks

The reality is that most NFL GMs do not land the job overnight.

It often takes years of working in the industry, gradually climbing the ranks and taking on positions with increasing responsibility.

Each role is an opportunity to learn, develop skills, and demonstrate your ability to lead and make decisions. It’s not an easy or quick path, but perseverance and dedication are key.

Stay Informed and Adapt

The world of the NFL is always changing. Rules are updated, playing styles evolve, and new strategies emerge.

To be an effective GM, you need to stay up-to-date on these changes and be willing to adapt your strategies accordingly.

Regularly reading industry news, attending relevant events, and continuing your professional development are all essential.

FAQs – How to Become an NFL GM

1. What is the role of an NFL General Manager?

An NFL General Manager is responsible for overseeing all football-related operations of a team.

Their primary duties include player personnel decisions, such as drafting players, signing free agents, and negotiating contracts.

They also manage the team’s salary cap, make trades, hire and fire coaching staff, and collaborate with the coaching staff on game planning and roster management.

2. What qualifications and skills are required to become an NFL General Manager?

To become an NFL General Manager, several qualifications and skills are typically expected:

  • Extensive knowledge of football: A deep understanding of the game, its strategies, and player evaluation is essential.
  • Experience in football operations: Prior experience in coaching, scouting, or player personnel roles at various levels can provide valuable insights and knowledge.
  • Analytical and decision-making skills: The ability to assess players, evaluate talent, and make informed decisions is crucial.
  • Leadership and communication skills: Effective communication, negotiation, and leadership abilities are necessary for managing a team and collaborating with stakeholders.
  • Strong work ethic and dedication: The NFL is a demanding industry, and perseverance and commitment are essential traits for success.
  • Education: While not mandatory, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in sports management or a related field can be advantageous.

3. How can I gain experience in football operations to become an NFL General Manager?

Gaining experience in football operations can be instrumental in pursuing a career as an NFL General Manager. Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Start at lower levels: Begin by gaining experience in coaching, scouting, or player personnel roles at the high school, college, or lower professional levels. This allows you to develop an understanding of the game and build a network within the football community.
  • Pursue internships and entry-level positions: Look for internships or entry-level positions with NFL teams, college programs, or scouting organizations. These opportunities provide hands-on experience and exposure to various aspects of football operations.
  • Network with professionals: Attend coaching clinics, scouting combines, and industry conferences to connect with professionals already working in the field. Building relationships can open doors for future opportunities.
  • Continuous learning: Stay updated on the latest trends, strategies, and advancements in football operations by reading books, attending seminars, and engaging with online resources.

4. Is it necessary to have played football professionally to become an NFL General Manager?

No, it is not necessary to have played football professionally to become an NFL General Manager.

While playing experience can provide valuable insights into the game, many successful General Managers have backgrounds in coaching, scouting, or other football-related roles.

A comprehensive understanding of football, along with the required skills and qualifications, is more important than personal playing experience.

5. What are some recommended career paths to become an NFL General Manager?

There isn’t a specific career path that guarantees becoming an NFL General Manager, as the journey can vary for each individual.

However, some common career paths include:

  • Coaching: Many General Managers start their careers as assistant coaches and gradually move up the ranks, gaining valuable experience in player evaluation and team management.
  • Scouting: Working as a scout allows individuals to assess and evaluate talent, which is a crucial aspect of being a General Manager. Scouts often progress to higher positions within football operations.
  • Player personnel roles: Jobs in player personnel departments, such as a player personnel director or coordinator, involve evaluating players, managing contracts, and collaborating with the General Manager. These roles can provide a stepping stone to becoming a General Manager.
  • Front office roles: Working in various roles within an NFL team’s front office, such as assistant General Manager or director of football operations, can provide valuable experience in managing team operations and player personnel decisions.

6. How important is networking in becoming an NFL General Manager?

Networking plays a significant role in the path to becoming an NFL General Manager.

Building relationships with coaches, scouts, front office personnel, and other industry professionals can create opportunities for career advancement.

Attending industry events, conferences, and seminars provides valuable networking opportunities where you can connect with individuals who may influence your career progression.

Networking also helps in staying updated with industry trends, job openings, and potential mentors who can provide guidance and support.

7. Are there any recommended educational programs or degrees for aspiring NFL General Managers?

While there are no specific educational programs or degrees exclusively tailored for NFL General Managers, pursuing a degree in sports management, business administration, or a related field can be beneficial.

These programs provide a solid foundation in areas such as leadership, finance, contract negotiation, and organizational management, which are relevant to the role of an NFL General Manager.

Additionally, attending seminars, workshops, and obtaining certifications in sports management can enhance your knowledge and credibility within the industry.

8. How can I increase my chances of being hired as an NFL General Manager?

To increase your chances of being hired as an NFL General Manager, consider the following steps:

  • Gain diverse experience: Seek opportunities to work in different football-related roles, such as coaching, scouting, and player personnel, to develop a well-rounded skill set.
  • Showcase your abilities: Demonstrate your expertise and decision-making skills through successful player evaluations, roster management, and collaborative efforts.
  • Network persistently: Build relationships with influential individuals in the football industry through networking events, conferences, and online platforms.
  • Stay updated: Keep up with the latest trends, analytics, and advancements in the football industry to demonstrate your commitment and adaptability.
  • Pursue advanced education: Consider pursuing a master’s degree or additional certifications to further enhance your knowledge and qualifications.
  • Be patient and persistent: The path to becoming an NFL General Manager can be competitive and may require perseverance. Stay dedicated to your goals and seek out opportunities for growth.

Please note that the process of becoming an NFL General Manager can vary, and these guidelines are intended to provide general insights and recommendations.

Final Thoughts

Becoming an NFL General Manager is no small feat. It requires years of hard work, dedication, a deep understanding of the game, and a knack for leadership.

But for those who make it, the role offers a chance to leave a lasting legacy on one of the most popular sports in the world.

Be prepared for the long haul, take every opportunity to learn, and always strive to be the best at what you do. Your journey to becoming a GM starts now.


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