I was going through my hard drive recently and came across this letter I wrote to Howie Roseman back in late September 2010. Full of a what-the-hell attitude and extreme wishful thinking, I knew my efforts would likely be fruitless but figured it was at least worth a shot. If nothing else, I felt the letter could serve as a time capsule for me to one day look back upon, especially if it turned out that the players I mentioned as up-and-coming in fact went on to fulfill their potential. Well, the day has arrived.
General Manager, Philadelphia Eagles
1 NovaCare Way
Philadelphia, PA 19145
My name is Daniel Klausner, and I just graduated a few months ago from the University of Maryland, College Park. As I was searching for jobs at the beginning of the summer, I had ample time to reflect upon where my true interests lie and what I would ideally like to pursue for a professional career. While I was lucky enough to secure a job in the Washington, DC, area, I never lost sight of the career path that I have always been most passionate about pursuing: a position within the player personnel department of a team in the National Football League. I would dismiss this ambition as an unattainable and foolish fantasy, if only I did not genuinely believe I had a knack for recognizing and evaluating talent. During my college spring break in March 2007, I actually served a one-week internship working for [redacted] when he was just starting as the Director of Statistics for the Philadelphia Eagles; [redacted], a family friend, helped facilitate the opportunity. I enjoyed my brief time working with [redacted], which only furthered my desire to get involved in the management side of professional football. I tried to secure a more substantial internship for the summer, but, unfortunately, nothing came to fruition, and I decided it would be best to fully commit myself to my studies and revisit the situation at a later date. To be honest, reading the Daily News feature this summer about your efforts to get your foot in the door and then work your way up the ladder within the Philadelphia Eagles organization served as a source of inspiration and imbued me with hope and the encouragement I needed to write this letter.
I grew up in Lower Merion, and my interest in player personnel began when I was 11 years old and my hometown Eagles were at a crossroads. The organization had just hired Andy Reid as its new head coach and was on the verge of selecting the player who would define a new era of Eagles football. While legions of Eagles fans loudly voiced their desire that the team draft Ricky Williams, I understood the foundation of the new regime had to start with drafting a franchise quarterback. However, that is about as far as my knowledge went, and I decided I wanted the team to draft Daunte Culpepper because I liked his name (similarly, the year before I liked Takeo Spikes for the same reason). I had been consciously following the Eagles for three years at that point, and suffice to say my abilities as a talent evaluator were still in their fledgling stages. It was not until I started to adamantly watch college football in the ensuing years that I realized how I much I relished analyzing players' talents and trying to project their potential at the next level. I began to track individual college players who had caught my eye, starting with local star Brian Westbrook, whose highlights I saw routinely on Comcast SportsNet, and whom I actually went to see in person on one occasion during his senior year at Villanova. I was ecstatic when the Eagles selected him in the 2002 draft, and from that point forward my hobby of amateur scouting took on a life of its own. I began to compile my own lists that ranked draft-eligible players at each position, taking particular interest in unearthing small-school talents that could be taken in the middle rounds (my obsessive and strict attention to detail when it comes to this practice is probably the reason I can tell you where just about every NFL player went to college). I found the challenge of talent evaluation to be personally and intellectually stimulating, and I realized there were few endeavors from which I derived more satisfaction than correctly predicting how a college player would transition to the professional ranks. I majored in history in college, and I am convinced that my enthusiasm for dissecting historical events and assessing their impact on the world stems from my adolescent hobby of scouting and analyzing the pro potential of college players. I also feel that my analytical and critical thinking skills greatly benefited from my time studying the subject.
I remember sitting in my dorm room as a college freshman in the fall of 2006 and watching the Cincinnati Bearcats take on the undefeated Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the #7 team in the country at the time. With the Bearcats holding a 20-3 lead late in the third quarter, Cincinnati senior tight end and team captain Brent Celek caught a three-yard pass and turned upfield. He showed surprising athleticism as he slipped by one defender, and then raced down the sideline before breaking a few more tackles and rumbling into the endzone. Perhaps even more impressive, however, was how the announcers gushed about his character, love and passion for football, work ethic, and how he was universally adored and respected by his teammates and coaches. At that moment, I remember thinking to myself, Wow, I hope the Eagles draft this guy. The 2007 draft is what actually made me think I might have a future in the field of player personnel, especially within the Eagles front office. I had Kevin Kolb ranked as the #2 quarterback behind JaMarcus Russell, Stewart Bradley as the #3 linebacker behind Patrick Willis and Jon Beason, and Brent Celek as the #3 tight end behind Greg Olsen and Zach Miller (and he is now my favorite current Eagle). So you can imagine how excited I was when all three were selected by my favorite team. The night the draft concluded, I called in to 610 WIP and told the host not to be surprised if within two or three years Kolb, Bradley, and Celek were not only starting, but highly productive. Now I am just hoping for Kolb to succeed -- and I anticipate he will (Edit: Nevermind) -- to complete the trifecta.
While I by no means have been correct with anything close to every prediction I have made regarding college players transitioning into effective pros, I have enough of a success rate to convince myself that I could honestly excel in the field, especially with the right guidance, tutelage, and resources. Other successful NFL players (excluding top-10 picks) I had rated highly coming out of college include Jason Witten, Chris Cooley, Jared Allen, Michael Turner, Marion Barber III, Brandon Meriweather, Haloti Ngata, Jahri Evans, Antoine Bethea, Sidney Rice, Mike Sims-Walker, Joe Flacco, Tracy Porter, Rashard Mendenhall, and Matt Forte. Perhaps more indicative of my abilities as a talent evaluator, the following list includes players I had rated highly coming out of college who have not yet made a significant impact in the NFL, but I feel they are on the cusp: Hakeem Nicks, Doug Free, Patrick Chung, Louis Delmas, Tyvon Branch, Calais Campbell, LeSean McCoy, Jason Jones, Jacob Ford, Charles Godfrey, Dwight Lowery, and Bernard Scott. A few examples of players from the 2010 draft class who I think will be successful at the professional level are C.J. Spiller, Brandon Graham (who I had ranked as the top DE in the draft), Kyle Wilson, Dexter McCluster, Nate Allen, Aaron Hernandez, Emmanuel Sanders, Eric Decker (if he can stay healthy), Javier Arenas, Mike Williams (WR), Morgan Burnett, George Selvie, Austen Lane, and Arthur Moats.
An unpaid internship within the player personnel department, where I could intently study film and use every possible resource available to me as I seek to learn as much as I can about the field, would be nothing short of an opportunity I have dreamed about for years. I just want to get my foot in the door any way I can because I know from that point on I will never look back. If that means sitting at a desk and doing whatever task -- no matter how mundane -- is required, that is what I will do. If that means proving myself to you over the course of this upcoming season by compiling scouting reports on different college players eligible for the 2011 draft, that is what I will do. Whatever needs to be done to show my serious commitment to the position and insatiable desire to succeed, I will do it. I know you began as an ambitious yet highly motivated individual who loved football and had a passion for player personnel, and that you have worked tirelessly to rise through the ranks from unpaid intern to general manager, winning over skeptical lifelong football men in the process. All I want is the opportunity to follow a similar path and prove myself. I want to sit in the film room and study players for hours, go on scouting trips, dig for every piece of information possible, participate in the war room on draft day, and, most importantly, I want to be part of the effort to construct a National Football League roster that can compete for Super Bowl titles year after year. If an opportunity with the Eagles is not available, would you at least be willing to tell me the best way to go about pursuing my dream of working in player personnel? I know there is a "Football GM & Scouting Course" offered online by Sports Management Worldwide. If you know of this course, do you think it would be beneficial for me to take it? Thank you for your time and consideration, I genuinely appreciate it and hope to hear from you.
You might be surprised to hear this, but I never got a response. Not even a courtesy "fuck off" letter! The nerve they have over at the NovaCare Complex, right? Good news is I haven't given up hope on my dream of working in NFL player personnel, I'm just pursuing a different avenue in order to make it happen. I'll have a better idea of my immediate future to that effect by the end of the summer, but know this -- I'm going to get there somehow, someway.