The role of a General Manager is to bear financial responsibility when discussing contracts with players and to facilitate and oversee all player transactions. This job also comes with responsibility over the coaching staff as well, even the head coach. Typically the General Manager is the person who deals in all of the hiring and firing within an organization. Other rolls of the General Manager are largely dependent on the team. Some teams give their General Managers oversight of the entire football team, while others partner their General Managers with head coaches in more of an advisory roll with the head coach possessing most of the power over the football operations, and sometime coaches pull double duty and wear the hats of both coach and General Manager.
What Must a General Manager do to be Effective?
For a General Manager to be effective they need to know every last in and out there is to the game of football and its business. For this reason many former players find themselves in General Manager positions, because their first hand experience gives them an invaluable edge and in depth knowledge of how the industry works. In addition to prior experience a General Manager needs to know how to negotiate reasonably with players, how to select draft picks that will best serve their team, how to interact and coexist with coaches as a cohesive unit, and above all they must put the interest of the team above the interest of individual players. A General Manager well known for this is Ted Thompson of the Green Bay Packers who traded the legendary Bret Favre for new comer Aaron Rodgers. The controversial move gave Green Bay a Super Bowl win in the end.
Common factors among General Managers who are hailed as the best in the game come down to: effective drafting, good use of free agents, and knowing how to put a team together. It would be easy to simply pick the best players and throw them on the field and expect the best, but managers know this is simply not the case. A team must have a cohesion that allows them to act as one. Picking players who have complimentary skill sets is far more beneficial than choosing single stand out players and trying to make them fit together. In addition to knowing the game a manager needs to know how to handle finances. A large percent of a team’s financial burden rests on the shoulders of their General Manager. Managers must know how to negotiate contracts to the benefit and satisfaction of both the player and the team budget— a tricky and precarious balancing act to say the least.
General Managers undertake a lot of responsibility and a hectic schedule. This is not a job for the easily stressed. Each day a Manager must make important decisions for their team knowing that one misstep can spell disaster for their career. This is why the most effective and successful managers know how to work with their coaching staff and listen to their opinions to help build consensus on tough issues. At the end of the day a manager must be selfless and give their all to their job and team. Dedication is the single most necessary quality of any good General Manager.