NFL Does It Again: Hires No-Experience GM in John Lynch

Here we go again.

Another former NFL player is getting a chance to run an NFL team without any prior experience in the front office.

Yep. John Lynch, the former 15-year NFL safety with Tampa Bay and Denver, has landed the San Francisco 49ers’ general manager gig.

Reportedly, it’s a six-year deal. It was done in secret. No one even knew he was a candidate for the job.

Lynch, a TV analyst, apparently talked a good enough game to land the job. A headline in The Mercury News called the hiring a stunner.

But didn’t we see this movie before. We sure did. It wound up being a disaster film. It was Matt Millen and the Detroit Lions. Millen talked a good game on TV as well and got the same job.

Millen – who won four Super Bowls as a player – went on to be arguably the worst GM in pro sports history. Look it up.

After a successful run as an NFL TV and radio analyst, Millen talked his way into the Lions’ president and GM job in 2001.

By Week Four of the 2008 season, Millen was canned after doing tremendous damage to the franchise. His eight-year tenure produced the worst eight-year record in the modern history of the NFL.

Under Millen’s watch, the Lions went 31-84, a .270 winning percentage. Millen also assembled the personnel and coaching staff of the 2008 Lions that became the first team to go 0-16, a single-season record that remains the worst in NFL history.

According to Sports Illustrated, Millen told then-Lions owner William Clay Ford at the time of the hiring. “I really appreciate this, but I’m not qualified. I’ve had no training. I know the game of football – but there’s a lot more to it than that.” Ford’s response: “You’re smart. You’ll figure it out.”

It never happened.

There’s a reason most guys who get a GM job have put in a lot of work throughout the organization en route to the top spot. There’s a lot of stuff you need to know.

Look at New York Giants GM Jerry Reese, one of just four African Americans with that title. He had to work his way up. First, he was an assistant college coach. Then he was a college scout and then a pro scout for a total of 10 years.

Then he was promoted by the Giants to director of player personnel. Then after three years in that job, he was named GM in 2007.

All Reese has done since becoming GM is win two Super Bowls in NYC.  

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It’s not that Lynch and others shouldn’t get an opportunity. It just looks bad when former black players in a league that’s nearly 70 percent black still can’t get a plum job even after paying dues to get in that position.

There can’t be a double standard. You can’t ask brothers to put in work and then when a gig opens up, you hire a guy that hasn’t done a thing to earn the position.

It’s really not about if an owner wants to give an opportunity to someone. The real question is would that owner give that same opportunity to someone that doesn’t look like him.

And given the NFL’s history of hiring minorities after their playing careers are over, the answer is no.

Black players and former players have a right to frown on Lynch’s hiring. Others, both black and white, have done the work to put themselves in a position to get that job. Instead, they get nothing.

Not only is it unfair, it’s wrong.

It sends a bad message to the masses. Again, it’s who you know and not what you know.

We get it. Lynch played at Stanford, is well-spoken and has a higher profile than most former players. Still, is Lynch more qualified than others out there? It’s hard to believe that he is.

Worse, you just can’t believe an unqualified black man would be given the same shot.

Lynch could go on and be the best GM the NFL has seen. Then again, Lynch could wind up like Millen: the worst GM in sports history. My bet is the latter.

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