Breakdowns

The Friday Five: Connie Carberg

The Friday Five: Connie Carberg

Connie Carberg is a former New York Jets scout and published author who was the first woman to ever become an NFL scout. Her book, X’s and O’s Don’t Mean I Love You: The Untold Story of The NFL’s First Female Scout, was published in 2017.

We caught up with Connie for this week’s Friday Five

Who is your biggest mentor?

Walt Michaels.

When I was a teenager, Coach Michaels was the Defensive Coordinator of the New York Jets, and my father and uncle were the team doctors. Before becoming a coach, he was an All-Pro linebacker for the Cleveland Browns. As a friend of my dad’s, Coach Michaels was often at the house growing up. We would watch games together, and he was one of the people who taught me football and helped me form my philosophy. As luck would have it, years later, he would be named Head Coach of the Jets during my last four years with the team. I’ve had incredible mentors of the game (Woody Hayes, Lou Holtz, Mike Holovak), but Coach Michaels was the one who first taught me about football during my formative years.

What was the most surprising part of this past NFL season in your opinion?

It was so unexpected to see the Cincinnati Bengals win their division, a TOUGH AFC North. Joe Burrow came back from a devastating torn ACL, MCL, and damage to the PCL (in late November of his rookie year). Adding Ja’Marr Chase was also huge, even though there were significant storylines about his challenges catching an NFL football. Those stories were proven very wrong, and Chase was a revelation. Joe Burrow came into his own, oozing with confidence, composure, accuracy, and leadership to get them to the Super Bowl.

What is one piece of advice that you have for women looking to get into the football scouting profession?

Love the game and remain inquisitive.

First off, being a scout is hard work. You spend the majority of your time on the road away from your loved ones, so that means you have to LOVE LOVE LOVE it. What separates the great scouts from the good scouts is the ability to go beyond the data and into a player’s head. Identifying their passions, desires, hopes, and dreams seems intangible, but it is essential to consider. That’s why asking people questions about themselves and getting to understand them as humans rather than just physical specimens is important.
Scouting is a lot like a mix between falling in love and gambling, and when you come across the right people, and everything in your mind and your heart is united, you may be willing to bet it all on them. That’s why you have to love these players, love the game, and when they can see that true love, the players and their staff will also tell you things they won’t tell anyone else. In 1978, when I looked at the unknown Mark Gastineau’s measurables, he jumped off the chart, but when I considered he was at a small college, that concerned me. However, when I heard him on the phone and talked about him playing in the Senior Bowl, I knew there was something more to him. And there was. But if I had only considered that he wasn’t at a big program, I could have written him off. As scouts, we have to be willing to bet big, and over time, our career can be defined by how much success we’ve seen from our bets. I’ve known Mark for a long time, and he’s still “my guy.” So you must love the game, and you have to dig deeper to get to the human beneath the athlete.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Take typewriting classes and trust your gut.

When I started in 1974, there were no computers, Google, YouTube. There was no combine either. I took a job as a secretary with the Jets because they could have asked me to clean the bathrooms and I would have. I wish I had taken some classes in typing so that I could be a better secretary, but then again, maybe they wouldn’t have considered me for what I really wanted if I was the best secretary. In sports, you deal with many big personalities and strong opinions. You don’t have a firm foundation and a strong sense of who you are and what you can do. It’s not about being stubborn; it’s about trusting your gut when you get pushback. If you’ve done the prep work and you will stand up for what you believe in and keep a positive attitude, nobody can stop you.

If you could invite any three people in history to dinner, who would they be and why?

Mom – My mom knew of my scouting but passed away in 2005, before the websitebook, social media, news and podcasts. She always believed in me. She would be so thrilled and proud to see the impact I’m blessed to make and the story of how this all came to be.

Barry Manilow – I met my husband while working for the Jets and Barry’s songs became the soundtrack to our marriage. I’ve seen him many times in concert, and his music continues to mean so much to me.

Vince Lombardi – I would love to talk football with Coach Lombardi and hear his philosophy of the game.

Extra seat: Willie Mays – I met him when I was young at a baseball game, and he was so positive and energetic. I even wrote him a letter inviting him to dinner when I was nine years old.