As VP of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960-88, Pro Football Hall of Famer Gil Brandt revolutionized the scouting process and helped build America’s Team. Since then, Brandt has continued to have his fingers on the pulse of the football world in many ways. In addition to inviting college players to the NFL draft every year, he is a senior analyst for NFL.com and co-host of “Late Hits” on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
We caught up with Brandt for this week’s Friday Five…
1.Who is your biggest mentor?
My biggest mentor was really (former Cowboys GM) Tex Schramm. Tex was light-years ahead of everything that’s happened in the National Football League. When you talk about arrows on the field to indicate if it’s a plus territory or minus territory, or the striping along the sidelines so the players would stay back a little farther so the people in the stands would have a chance to see if it’s a catch that’s in bounds or out of bounds. He was a guy that I always looked forward to visiting with and exchanging ideas with. And I think from it, we came up with some really good ideas as far as the draft was concerned, as far as attendance was concerned, just overall to create a healthy NFL.
2.What is your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is the grading of a draft. They grade a draft A, B, C, D… and I’m not sure what any of that means. A prime example this year was the Giants. They trade down from the 11th overall pick to the 20th spot, got a player of equal value in the receiver from Florida (Kadarius Toney), and got a first and a fifth next year. To me, that was an A-plus maneuver, and yet I’ve seen some people give them a C.
3.What is your favorite book?
My favorite book is any one I can pick up and feel good about reading because I know that the person who wrote the book has a lot of history as far as the National Football League is concerned. I really don’t care about politics, per se, but I do care about football. If I can read a book that focuses on football, then I really enjoy reading it, because I can get something from it.
One recent football book that I highly recommend is 12 Mighty Orphans, by Jim Dent. It’s a true story about a 7-on-7 football team here in Texas. It’s been made into a movie that is coming out next month.
4.If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would they be?
I think two are very easy for me: Nick Saban is one and Bill Belichick is another. I think they are both special. The commissioner, Roger Goodell, would probably be the third one. For a young guy starting out, he did a fabulous job and he continues to do a fabulous job, coming up with new ideas to successfully sell the league. Just like the deal he did the other day with Amazon, getting the deal activated a year early. Any time you can get a deal moved up and get millions of dollars ahead of time, that’s pretty impressive to me.
5. What advice would you give your younger self?
My advice is threefold. One, be sure to work hard and stay away from outside problems that can ruin your career very easily. Secondly never stand still. Don’t ever say, “We did this well for five years and it really worked well — why should we change?” We see it every year with offensive and defensive football, where teams change even if they did well a year ago. A prime example is the Kansas City Chiefs. Two years ago, they were the best offensive team in the NFL. Last year, they changed some things. And it probably made them better even though they lost out in the end.
Lastly, have loyalty to people that have been good to you through the years. And put them at the head of the docket.
Check out all of our Friday Five features — including Troy Aikman, Adam Schefter, Andrea Kremer and more — in the Friday Five archive.