Jan 172007
 
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Jerry Reese’s Inaugural Press Conference as the New York Giants New General Manager: The Giants held a press conference yesterday morning to introduce the new general manager of the team, Jerry Reese. The following is the transcript of the press conference:

Opening Statement – John Mara: The New York Giants are pleased to introduce Jerry Reese as our new Senior Vice President and General Manager. Jerry, as most of you know, has been with our organization since 1994, starting as an area scout and working his way up to Assistant Director of Pro Personnel in 1999 and then Director of Player Personnel in 2002. I’ve had the opportunity to observe Jerry’s work firsthand throughout his time here, and he has demonstrated extraordinary leadership skills, intelligence, confidence, a superior work ethic and an outstanding ability to evaluate players. Jerry earned this position the old-fashioned way: through hard work and dedication, being promoted through the ranks, and demonstrating a unique set of skills that caused us to take notice of him very early on. He has earned the respect and admiration of everyone in this organization from the first day he walked in the door and we are very excited about his ability to lead our team in the future.

Opening Statement – Jonathan Tisch: On behalf of my mother and my siblings, and reflective of our partnership with the Mara family, I am thrilled to be part of recognizing Jerry Reese as absolutely the appropriate person to be the general manager of the New York Football Giants, starting today and for many, many years to come. Today we are reminded that hard work, discipline, integrity, honesty and being somebody who is very thorough are skills that put people at the top in leadership positions. When you consider Jerry’s background — when you consider that every step of the way he has been inclusive in how he manages, he has learned his trade, he knows football — then you come to understand why John and I felt that Jerry should be our general manager, once again, for many, many years to come. Jerry is extremely knowledgeable. He now takes this role. He will work with the organization. Change is not always necessary just for change’s sake. Today we are able to continue the continuity that is embedded in this organization, that has been around historically since the Mara family took over and since my family has been fortunate to have been partners for the past 16 years, and reflect upon Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch and move forward with an organization that is strong and wants to put a winning product on the field. That will now happen under Jerry Reese’s leadership.

Opening Statement – Jerry Reese: Thanks, John and Jon. First of all, I have to say this – I wouldn’t be sitting here – I would be silly to think I’d be sitting here without God’s favor, so I just want everyone to know that I’m a spiritual person and I appreciate the favor that God has given me to be here. Secondly, I’d like to thank John and Jonathan, the Mara family and the Tisch family for giving me this great opportunity to be the leader of this organization. I’d also like to thank my family – Gwen my wife, and my kids, and all of my extended family, everybody. There has been a lot of praying going on the last few weeks to try to get me in this seat. Also, I’d like to say congratulations to Ernie (Accorsi) and thanks to Ernie for all of his help and his guidance in being a true friend to me, and all of the mentoring he’s done for me over the years. I’d like to thank him for that. And quickly, I’m a stickler to the scouts. Thanks to the scouts. Those guys really do the legwork. Those guys go out – They’re out there right now at the East-West All-Star game. They’re doing the work. These guys get in the trenches and do all of the hard work for us, so I really appreciate – I don’t ever want to leave them out of anything, because that’s our lifeline – our scouts. I’m looking forward to working with Coach Coughlin. Anything he needs from me, all he has to do is come ask me and we’ll try our best to make it happen for him. Also, a personnel staff – There are other people in this organization who are very qualified for this job, and I’m looking forward to working with Chris Mara, Kevin Abrams, Dave Gettleman, Ken Sternfeld, Jerry Shay – I’m looking forward to working with all of them. We already work together, but I’m looking even more now (forward to it). We’re going to make a terrific team.

Opening Statement – Ernie Accorsi: I’ll just say something briefly, because this is Jerry’s day. If you were to map out a blueprint on how to prepare for this position, Jerry Reese would have written it: a graduate assistant at Tennessee-Martin, assistant coach at Tennessee-Martin, assistant head coach, road scout, assistant personnel director, player personnel director. His record…In everything he’s done, he’s done well. And those are the auditions, those are the important things – your body of work. Our drafts have been excellent since he took over and it just proves that the world will step aside and make way for someone who’s dedicated and talented. For me, it is very satisfying and fulfilling that I’ll be succeeded by Jerry Reese in this position.

Q: Will the front office be reorganized and will someone replace Reese?

A: (Mara) I don’t know that ‘reorganize’ is the right word. I think we will be looking for someone to take Jerry’s spot. I know he has some ideas on that. Jerry will run the draft this year, just as he has done in previous years. After the draft we will look for somebody to (fill) his roll. There may be some other minor adjustments made, but I wouldn’t term it a reorganization.

Q: Going from talent evaluator to managing talent, what will the change in challenges be?

A: (Reese) I don’t know if there is a great deal of change when you evaluate football players and then you evaluate people who run your departments. You try to help them as best as you can and whatever they need in their department, you try to make it happen for them. That’s what I want to do. I’ll have meetings coming up shortly with all of the departments, trying to get acclimated to what they’re doing, what they need (and) how can we make their department better. It’s a little different evaluating people who are in management positions than football players. It’s a little bit different for me.

Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from Ernie Accorsi and from George Young?

A: (Reese) I was thinking about that a little bit. When I first got here, George Young hired me in December 1994. Actually, I think I’m the last hire for George Young, then obviously Ernie promoted me within the organization as time went on. But from George Young…George’s style, Ernie and George have two different styles. George was the kind of sit-and-wait and just stand pat with your hand, whatever you had in the draft. He would take what was there, and he thought that was the way to do it. Ernie’s style was a little bit different, and I took something from both styles. Ernie believes if you see a guy on the board and you want him, you go get him. If it’s time for you to pick and it looks like a guy that should be a third-round pick – hey, don’t mess around. If you want him, pick him. Don’t mess around. So I got (something) a little bit different – Those two different guys, but I got a little bit from both of them in that aspect.

Q: As a graduate assistant and someone who was in coaching, what were your career goals then and when did you start believing you could be a general manager?

A: (Reese) As a grad assistant, I started out at Tennessee-Martin as a grad assistant. Of course, you guys already know that. As I was finishing up grad school, they hired me. As soon as I was finished, they hired me full-time to coach the secondary there and I moved up through the ranks and they moved me to assistant head coach and I started coaching receivers. At the time, Jeremiah Davis, who is one of our scouts now, he used to work at Tennessee-Martin. That’s my whole connection to the Giants: Jeremiah. I was a grad assistant. I was sleeping on Jeremiah’s couch. We were friends through the years and he was working for the Giants and he called and said, ‘We need a scout in the southeast.’ I was like, ‘Jeremiah, there’s no way. I’m assistant head coach at UT-Martin. I’m going to be the head coach in a couple years. I’m not going. There’s no way.’ But he kept talking to me: ‘Just please, please give us a chance.’ And finally, long story short, here I am.

Q: How did it feel when the Giants were doing their due diligence and interviewing outside candidates? What were those days like for you?

A: (Reese) You know what? I respect John and Jonathan and Steven for doing the process like they did. They could have easily gone out and said we’re going to go for this guy or go for that guy, but they did a thorough evaluation of the candidates at the time and as far as I know, I’m the number one prospect. As far as I know. They didn’t tell me I wasn’t the number one guy, so – And I told them, I appreciate how they did the process and just like personnel, we’re not going to go out and just pick guys because someone said we should pick them. We’re going to evaluate them and we’re going to be thorough about what we’re doing, then we’ll make our decision. We’re not just going to pick guys at random, so I respect how the process was handled.

Q: What do you think is the number one thing you’re going to have to learn to do as a general manager?

A: (Reese) Probably the most difficult thing for me, I’m kind of a hands-on – I really like to get my hands in what’s going on. I like to try to evaluate all of the players. Obviously I can’t evaluate everybody. You have to depend on your scouts, but I like to put my eyes on the players that we’re thinking about drafting, so it’s going to be hard for me to back off that a little bit. You’ll never lose me as an evaluator. That’s who I am, that’s what I know. But it’ll be difficult to back off a little bit and do my other duties as a general manager. That’s one thing. And people probably will ask me, ‘Well, you don’t know that much about the cap.’ I know enough about it, and we have an expert capologist –Kevin Abrams, our assistant general manager. He’s an expert, so anything I need to know about that, we can get that from Kevin.

Q: Knowing that the press conference and the official announcement was coming today and being the third African-American GM in league history, did the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday yesterday hold special meaning for you?

A: (Reese) You know what? I thought about that a lot and it was perfect timing. It was absolutely perfect timing for this to happen. I really feel like it’s my time to carry the torch. I don’t mean to sound cliché, but I really feel it’s my time to carry the torch. There are many people who went before me who really suffered through this process, and now it’s my time. I’m going to be successful – I have to be successful on a lot of levels. I’m looking forward to the challenge. Actually Doug Williams e-mailed me this morning and Doug said, ‘Jerry, I was just looking at my old tape from the Super Bowl,’ and he said, ‘You know what? It was all worthwhile just to see you in that spot this morning. I’m really proud of you.’ It’s my time to kind of keep the dream alive, because it’s very important to me. I don’t take it lightly.

Q: The usual course of action is to name the general manager and then to make any coaching decisions. This organization did the reverse – Can you talk about that process and moving forward I guess you would have the final say on coaching in years to come?

A: (Reese) Yeah, I’ll have the final say on the coach in years to come, but the process was – John and Jonathan, they both spoke to me (about) how I felt about the situation with Coach Coughlin, and I was very supportive of the decision we made. I’m looking forward to Tom being here a long time. We’re going to support him 100 percent. Tom is our coach and we want him to be here for a long time.

Q: I know you’re young in this position, but is there anything you’ve identified that needs to be changed for next year?

A: (Reese) There are several things that I think we can get better at. Ernie has left us with a strong core of players, and it really kind of makes me sick to look at the playoff games going on right now – even with all of the injuries and the bad situations that happened to us this season, the tough schedule and all of that is well-documented. Our team is good enough to still be playing right now. It’s no question in my mind. So there are some hot spots that our personnel staff and I… We’ll evaluate our team and we’ll evaluate where we think the hot spots are. We’ll talk to Coach Coughlin and what he thinks about where we need to delete some guys or add some guys, so we’re in the process of doing that right now. The process is already underway.

Q: You said you took from both George Young and Ernie Accorsi. Give us one area where you’re your own man.

A: (Reese) I don’t know if I can reinvent the wheel. It’s a lot of things that you have to take from what you’ve learned over the years. I’m not going to try to reinvent the wheel, but there are a lot of things that….I think in the organization – I’m not saying we haven’t had great communication, but communication is the key for everybody. I have to communicate with the owners, the owners have to communicate with me, I have to communicate with the head coach, the head coach has to communicate with the players. So communication and trust and respect – We’re going to build that and we’re going to talk about that more, but I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel on the way George did it or the way Ernie did it.

Q: When a new coach comes in, he usually gets years to entrench himself and get his system up and running. Is it the same for a general manager?

A: (Mara) I don’t know if that’s going to take a long period of time because Jerry has been here. He knows how the organization works. I think he has some good ideas for how we can improve going forward, but I’m not anticipating it being a terribly long transition period for him. He has the support of some terrific people around him, and so I think it’s going to be a very smooth transition.

Q: What are your thoughts on Eli Manning’s progress and what can you do as a GM to help that along?

A: (Reese) Eli’s progress right now is not where we want him to be. Obviously it’s not where we want it to be. We want him to be a Pro Bowl guy that can lead us into the Super Bowl. That’s our goal and that’s what we’re going to do with Eli. He’s our quarterback and we’re going to go forward with him, we’re going to evaluate him and see what other things we can do to help him in this process. Eli has played for two full seasons as a starter, so he’s really not the far behind. I think it’s over-exaggerated how far – Look at the quarterbacks that are playing now, still in the playoffs. Are those guys that much greater than our quarterback? I don’t think so. So Eli is our franchise quarterback and we hope he’ll be here for a long, long time. Again, we’re going to do everything possible, whether we have to get a new – a quarterbacks coach, a quarterbacks guru – whatever Coach Coughlin needs, we’re going to get it for Eli because we’re depending on him to take this where we want to go.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice Ernie Accorsi gave you on dealing with agents? Or the media?

A: (Reese) It’s the same thing. Respect the media, respect the agents. It’s a working relationship with everybody, but myself, as far as the media goes, it’s not about me. It’s about our football team and preparing and building to get ready to win championships. That’s my only goal here, guys, is to help build this team, help Coach Coughlin (and) to win championships. That’s my goal.

Q: Is Chris Mara going to have the same role he’s in now as Vice President of Player Evaluation?

A: (Mara) No, he will have an expanded role, and that’s something that will be the subject of further discussion with Jerry and with Jon as well.

Q: But nothing is official yet?

A: (Mara) There’s nothing official yet. He has an important role right now and he will probably have a more important role going forward.

Q: To get this job, you beat out three guys in the organization who obviously wanted the job, too. Have you talked to them and is it awkward to have them still working under you?

A: (Reese) They’ve all been very supportive of me through the whole process. I was quoted as being the front-runner from the beginning. I don’t know about that, but I just know that all of the guys that were interviewed here, all of those guys are very qualified to be sitting here. Again, I feel like we could easily…We could have four general managers here. We’re going to be a terrific team. We already work together and we’re going to be a terrific team.

Q: General Manager is traditionally a long-term position. Was that part of the thinking with this?

A: (Mara) Well, yeah, we’d like to have continuity, obviously. We’ve only had two general managers dating back to since 1979, so that was part of the thinking also. We hope we have somebody here and we’re very confident we have somebody here in Jerry that is going to lead us for many years to come.

Q: In the second half of the season when things started going downhill, did you start to think you needed more of a change?

A: (Mara) Not really. I mean, there were a lot of factors that went into the second half of the season and the lack of success that we had there, but I always felt we had a pretty good core nucleus of players and I was very confident that we had a very solid organization that Ernie had built up over the years, so I’m not really sure that that had very much to do with the final decision here.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Public Reaction to Jerry Reese Being Named General Manager: The following is the transcript of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s media Q&A following General Manager Jerry Reese’s inaugural press conference:

Coughlin: When I first came here it was January and we were moving on into the draft. I was very impressed with the way that Jerry ran the draft – the efficiency, the leadership, the way in which the room was organized. The ability to move on – sometimes you get in there and if you get swayed one way or the other, you can waste an awful lot of time on something that in the long run is not that critical. Jerry never let that happen. Things were always on track. You got things accomplished that were stated were going to be accomplished. Everyone was in complete cooperation in the room. Otherwise, Jerry quickly would jump on an individual that might be getting off track. That was extremely impressive.

I’ve been on the road with Jerry many times when we’ve worked a player out and have always been very impressed by that aspect of it. Some of the things you don’t see – the director reports, the way in which he has the ability to encapsulate a player, to take 15 write-ups and put them into one write-up and incorporate all the strengths and weaknesses of that particular player. It’s a unique ability, I think, to get the (draft) board right, to make sure the grades the correct and get the board set up correctly, so the values you place on a player are reflected by the board. The middle of that second round is a critical, critical time, for example, and those players that are in that spot need to be deserving of that spot, because of the way they impact your entire draft. Jerry has a very unique ability in that area as well.

It certainly is a great day for Jerry, for Gwen, for their family. It’s a tremendous honor. I do join in whatever everyone else has said in recognizing the way in which Jerry came about this position and the hard work that has gone into this, the fact that he’s earned every spot along the way. Because of that he’s developed a great level of confidence, a great platform from which to work. There’s nothing he’s afraid to tackle. And I think as he looked at this particular opportunity, that was pretty obvious.

Q: RE: Hot spots on team. Are Jerry and you on the same page?

Coughlin: We will be on the same page in all areas. We’ve just gotten into that. That’s something that will go forward. We’ve always had these discussions at the end of the season in which management and Jerry and pro personnel have all been together in these discussions. As we go through it, we get a singleness of purpose with regard to priorities and the direction you have to take out of free agency and out of the draft. We’ve always been able to do that and I look forward to this.

Q: Any ideas what you’ll ask for first?

Coughlin: I have a lot of ideas, but they’ll remain with me until we’ve had a chance to talk.

Q: New defensive coordinator?

Coughlin: That’s going forward, but let’s let this be Jerry’s day today.

Q: Will there be an adjustment working with Jerry?

Coughlin: I don’t think so. We know each other and we’ve spent an awful lot of time together in training camp, obviously, as the new players are evaluated and the old players are evaluated. I don’t think that will be a major factor. The other thing to recognize is the tremendous support unit that Jerry has right here, based on the people that were qualified to have an opportunity to be interviewed for the position. All those things considered and having been here and having been in this system as long as Jerry has, this process, I think, will move along very smoothly. I’m looking forward very much to working with him. Our relationship has obviously grown since I’ve been here since much of our year is spent on the draft and being involved in evaluating players and working players out, that type of thing.

Notes and Quotes: Giants’ President/CEO John Mara said that the Giants will not seek to fill the director of player personnel vacancy that was caused by the promotion of Jerry Reese until after the 2007 NFL Draft. Mara also said that Vice President of Player Evaluation Chris Mara, his brother, will have his role expanded within the organization. The details will likely be made public soon. “Chris has had an important role here. I anticipate his role will be even more important going forward,” John Mara said. “I trust his evaluation of players as much as anybody in the organization.”

John Mara said he has not been asked by the Carolina Panthers for permission to interview Tight Ends Coach Mike Pope. Mara also said he had not been informed that Special Teams Coach Mike Sweatman is ready to retire.

John Mara on General Manager Jerry Reese: “It has not been an easy eight or nine weeks, believe me. With all the speculation going on about the coach, and GM candidates, it is a relief. More than that, I feel really good about someone who will be a good GM. He’s someone I noticed early on. I think he will energize the whole organization, and I think we could use a little bit of that right now.”

John Mara on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: “Any coach in this league can be considered a lame duck, to a certain extent. You have to prove yourself every year. Jerry is very supportive of Tom. GM is a position where we’ve had a lot of continuity here and we hope to continue that.”

John Mara on Patriots’ Vice President of Player Personnel Scott Pioli: “I was disappointed, but I can’t say that it was a major disappointment because I felt really good about the people we had in-house. There were some interesting people out there, but at the end of the day, I like the people we have in-house a heck of a lot more than what was out there. Would I have liked to have spoken to Scott? Yeah, but that’s because I don’t know him that well. I would have liked to have heard what he was all about, but it was not to be.”

John Mara on the Giants’ scouting: “I think our system is sound, I don’t think we need any major changes in that area. We need to bring in some better players. I think, on the second day of the draft, we’ve gotten some good players, we’ve missed on some…We can improve in that area. You look at the teams playing now, they’ve got guys from the second day of the draft that are contributing. They’re not sitting on the bench, they’re not inactive. That’s something we can do a little bit better on.”

Reese on the Giants’ scouting: “For the most part, we do a good job. But there are some new ideas I’m going to present to our personnel staff to see if we can get to a different level on the type of players we bring in – what their history is with injuries, how productive they’ve been. We’ve got to be mindful of not just getting a name, we’ve got to get guys who can contribute right away, especially with free agency.”

Reese on QB Eli Manning: “Obviously we need to get our quarterback playing at a high level, because in this league most of the time it’s your quarterback that gets you to that Super Bowl and ultimately helps you win it…I don’t think Ernie (Accorsi) drafted him. We drafted him. We targeted Eli, we wanted Eli, everybody was on board with Eli. If I were in that seat and we as a group targeted Eli, I would have done the same thing. I think people kill him because he’s got that Manning name and everybody expects him to be Peyton. He’s not Peyton, he’s Eli. I really believe he’s going to be the leader to take us to a different level…Next year the young tag is gone.”

Reese on possibly luring HB Tiki Barber out of retirement: “You never know until you talk to him. I hope that at some point I can have a conversation with Tiki and see…Who knows? Tiki might say at some point, ‘You know what? I want to come back,’ after he rests and gets his body healed up. You never know until you talk to him. After he rests and recharges his battery, you never know what can happen. You know pro athletes always think they want to retire, then all of a sudden they miss being out there. So after awhile, when Tiki’s got his battery recharged and he’s been away, relaxed and got his strength back from being beat-up, he’ll be feeling good. Then all of a sudden he may say, ‘You know what? I can go one more (year). Jerome Bettis did it.’”

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Eric Kennedy

Founder and owner of BigBlueInteractive.com, which is now entering its 20th season. Follow Eric on Twitter @BigBlueInteract.

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