Perfect Resume -
Great Interview -
Gordon Gekko look -
This sounds like a good idea, what's the catch?
By Herb Zurkowsky, The Gazette January 10, 2013
MONTREAL — For the second time in as many years, the Canadian Football League’s most successful general manager has been forced to deal with the disappointment of being left at the altar.
And Jim Popp isn’t masking his feelings.
“You’re damn straight, I’m disappointed,” Popp told The Gazette in an exclusive interview late Wednesday from his home in Mooresville, N.C., hours after learning he hadn’t become the GM of the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers.
“I’m definitely not happy I didn’t get it,” added Popp, the Alouettes’ GM since the franchise returned to the CFL in 1996. “It’s like being in the Super Bowl and not winning. That’s the honest truth. I’m not happy. I would like to be a general manager in the NFL. Absolutely. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be looking at these jobs.
“That being said,” he quickly added, “I have a great job. Montreal’s my second home.”
Popp interviewed with the Panthers for more than four hours on Tuesday, one of four candidates the team reportedly met before settling on David Gettleman, the New York Giants’ former director of pro personnel. Gettleman, 61, has been a part of six Super Bowl teams, including three championship clubs.
Popp, 48, has won three Grey Cups with the Als, another with the Baltimore Stallions, the franchise that transferred to Montreal.
Last January, Popp was one of four who interviewed to become GM of the Indianapolis Colts, the team ultimately deciding upon Ryan Grigson. And in May 2010, Popp spurned an opportunity to join the Washington Redskins’ personnel department.
Popp told The Gazette the Panthers weren’t the only NFL team this winter he had been approached by, stating two other teams expressed interest in him as a potential GM. Indeed, the New York Daily News reported Popp is on the New York Jets’ radar. Although the paper stated it wasn’t known whether an interview has been scheduled, a source familiar with the process told The Gazette Popp already has met with team officials.
The other team that approached Popp isn’t known. However, according to another source, it wasn’t the Cleveland Browns, who remain in the market for a GM. The Browns reportedly interviewed Montreal head coach Marc Trestman on Tuesday — one day after Trestman spent more than eight hours in Chicago, being interviewed by the Bears.
On Thursday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported former Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt was being interviewed for a second time by the Browns, then late Thursday night reported the team had hired Panthers offensive coordinator (and former Browns offensive coordinator) Rob Chudzinski to be its next head coach.
It’s clear Popp’s getting more recognition in the U.S. as time passes, and it seems only a matter of time before an NFL team hires him. On Wednesday, Steve Mariucci, the former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions Tweeted: “Jim Popp GM Montreal CFL will make an excellent GM in NFL!!!! Mark my words!”
Whether that opportunity comes with the Jets, who are in the midst of meeting with an army of candidates, remains to be seen. And, if offered the job, whether Popp would accept. New York’s incoming GM will be saddled with numerous headaches. He would be forced to inherit head coach Rex Ryan, for starters, unable to hire his own candidate. Also, according to ESPN, the Jets are $19.4 million over the salary cap and must release several players.
The Panthers’ job would have been ideal for Popp, who resides 25 minutes from the team’s practice facility. He called it, potentially, an ideal position.
“It would have been almost a dream come true ... right there in my hometown,” he said. “Lots of people are qualified. You never know. When you get that chance, and have multiple chances ... if you’re one of six selected to be interviewed, it’s quite a privilege, let alone be considered.
“Ryan Grigson has done an outstanding job,” Popp added. “If I was that close to getting it and they chose Ryan ... that could have been me. The Colts did a great job. Now we’ll see how the Panthers do.”
Popp, of course, is wondering what he might have done differently the last two years to have been hired in either Indianapolis and Carolina. And, he added, with each interview, he becomes more confident with the process.
“They (the Panthers) told me I couldn’t have done anything different,” said Popp, who learned of the decision from president Danny Morrison about an hour before the team announced its hiring. “Maybe I was better than expected, but they chose somebody else. You have to accept it and move on.
“Most of those guys they’re interviewing, I have a lot more experience than they do at a number of jobs you’re asked to do. I have that experience. I’m not sure they know what to do with that.”
Popp said he can remain content in Canada, having spurned opportunities to work in the NFL in lower-ranking capacities. Of course, he added, had he taken a personnel job, he might eventually have been promoted to GM.
His plan is to return to the Als, as it is every winter. He hasn’t stopped working, planning, and scouring North America for players. But he also wants NFL owners aware of one thing: “I think I have a lot to offer a team.”
Should Popp depart, however, the ramifications would be more severe.
While Popp has the GM’s title, his true strength lies in scouting and recruitment. His assistant, Marcel Desjardins, monitors the salary cap and conducts contract negotiations, with Popp residing fulltime in North Carolina. Desjardins would be the obvious choice to replace Popp, but he’s a candidate to become GM of the expansion franchise in Ottawa, scheduled to begin play in 2014. Desjardins had his second interview with team officials on Monday.
Even while Popp’s exploring NFL job opportunities, he already has started contemplating potential successors to Trestman, should that become necessary.
Not only is Popp a native of North Carolina, Ernie Accorsi, who’s familiar with Popp, is serving as a Panthers’ consultant. Accorsi is a former GM with the Giants and Browns. Popp’s late father, Joe, was an assistant coach with Cleveland.
Interesting that Popp resides in N.C. year around...His lack of contract/cap experience could be holding him back...He might be better suited as a Director of Personnel...But I'd still like him if you had a strong cap guy..
Posting. But it goes against previous reports that he hasn't been interviewed, just talked to. Sensing some self promotion to keep his name in NFL circles as much as I would like him to be considered.
@HerbZurkowsky1: For those wondering, #Als' GM Jim Popp remains in the New York Jets' mix - that, according to Popp, who texted me tonight.
I'm getting cynical over who is reporting some candidates and their motives.
Shefter with ties to Denver and most likely close to Sunquist. And Popp trying desperately to get a NFL GM gig
Too bad because I'd put both right at the top of my list for who I'd want Woody to hire.
I love the attitude, but is he qualified to run an NFL franchise?
The only reason I'm not sure about him is that being a Canadian GM isn't the same as being an NFL GM.
The difference between getting it right, and having a bust in the NFL is such a fine line in so many cases, that it's 100 times tougher than the Canadian league.
By that I mean most NFL level players are elite players. So you are either elite, or you're not in the NFL. In Canada, they're picking from players who are good to very good. It's much easier to evaluate talent at that level.
I'm not saying he isn't qualified. I'm just wondering if he is.