Say it ain’t so, Joe. Say you will not be a Division III wide receiver from Elkhart, Ind., who hides from the big-city spotlight and cowers under his desk when the Giants are losing and the questions are tough.
Joe Schoen, 42, has come a long way from DePauw University and his days as a ticket-office intern with the Carolina Panthers. He ended up in Miami, where he worked under Bill Parcells, who was among the many voices who gave the Giants his blessing for this overwhelmingly important hiring of Schoen as general manager. After Miami, Schoen helped Bills GM Brandon Beane rip the AFC East out of Bill Belichick’s hands.
It’s funny how life works out. The Giants might’ve never fired Dave Gettleman had he drafted Josh Allen when given the chance in 2018, and now they are replacing Gettleman with an executive who got the job because his former franchise drafted Josh Allen when given the chance in 2018.
But that was then and this is most definitely now. Schoen is making a monumental leap from fairly anonymous Buffalo aide to the man hired to save the New York Football Giants from themselves. Though John Mara and Steve Tisch and everyone else were busy saying wonderful things Friday about Schoen, it’s worth remembering that the same people were saying the same wonderful things about Gettleman four years ago, before he proved to be completely overmatched.
Gettleman wasn’t just a terrible decision-maker. As the losses mounted, he also retreated from public accountability and got smaller and smaller and smaller. The Giants did what they could to protect the GM, but Pat Hanlon, their longtime communications czar, isn’t David Copperfield or David Blaine. He couldn’t make Gettleman’s considerable flaws disappear.
Here’s hoping young Mr. Schoen is much more accessible and more nimble around a microphone when Daniel Jones gets hurt again, the draft picks are underperforming, and people start asking uncomfortable questions about why the Giants didn’t pick Schoen’s runner-up, San Francisco’s Adam Peters, who had come on late in the process and nearly turned the race into a dead heat.
Up front, if he studies the marketplace, Schoen will find that the true survivors are those who are available to their paying customers (via the media conduits) when storm clouds gather. Brian Cashman has been the Yankees’ GM for nearly a quarter century at least partly because he’s willing to own unacceptable performances and say things like “we suck right now” and the team’s play “stinks to high heavens” — while the Yankees were still above .500 in yet another playoff season.
Don’t follow the Gettleman model, or the Leon Rose model. If the Knicks keep playing the way they’ve been playing, Rose will find out soon enough that the hiders in New York never get the benefit of the doubt when they need it.
Don’t be a hider, young Mr. Schoen. Follow the lead of the only Giants quarterback ever to win two Super Bowls. Eli Manning always made himself available to answer questions the day after defeats, to accept his share of the blame, while laying low the day after victories, to allow lesser-known and lesser-paid teammates to bask in the glow. What a great policy for a first-time GM who is inheriting a roster built to fail.
Schoen needs a new head coach for starters, and among the leading contenders are a couple of guys named Brian — Daboll, Buffalo’s current offensive coordinator, and Flores, Miami’s former head coach. Mara and Tisch will give Schoen a lot of room to make changes and install his own philosophy on how to build a winning program, though Mara and the new GM used the word “collaborative” to describe the anticipated approach in the team’s release. Some Giants personnel will stay, and others will leave, and Schoen will likely make many of his department changes after the upcoming draft.
Those changes will be evaluated on the scoreboard, of course, which has been most unkind to the Giants for the better part of a decade. One team official recently said, “I want to know how the f–k we ended up in this position” after winning that second Manning-Tom Coughlin Super Bowl. Schoen was hired to figure that out, and nothing about how he is judged will be, you know, collaborative.
Understand this much: This was Schoen’s job to lose from the start, and he deserves credit for not losing it. Weeks ago, a team source identified Schoen first when naming candidates for Gettleman’s office, and Buffalo’s assistant GM received the Giants’ first request for an interview, and the first interview itself. Nine men participated in Zoom calls with Tisch and John and Chris Mara, all impressive in their own right. Baltimore’s Joe Hortiz, an expected finalist who didn’t make the cut, talked up Jim Harbaugh and Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale as potential coaches. The best of the rest were focused on the likes of Daboll, Flores and Dan Quinn.
In the end, Peters and Kansas City’s Ryan Poles were the toughest to beat, but beat them Schoen did.
“It’s an honor to accept the position of general manager of the New York Giants,” he said.
Schoen should remember those words, and stay true to them, because there is no honor in hiding in this market.
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