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Mike Tannenbaum Spills Deepest, Darkest Secrets

The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

Former New York Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum took to reddit to conduct an interview known as an Ask Me Anything (also known as an AMA). He answered some questions, and by that I mean picked easy questions, distorted some of the ones he was given, and gave some pretty good platitudes as responses. I edited some of the questions for readability.


I have to ask "the Tebow question." What about Tim made the Jets want to take a chance on him? Did the circus-atmosphere that follows him impact the decision, or was he signed for his ability as a football player?

Coming out of the lockout we lost Brad Smith and felt that Tim could have been that type of player for us. That's one of those trades that didn't work out.

Do you have a great Rex Ryan story to share?

Rex Ryan story: When Pittsburgh called to say that Santonio Holmes would be available for a fifth round pick, I called down to his office and he wasn't there. (I got the assistant instead)

After the call, about 30 seconds later, Rex dove into my office, barged the door down and said absolutely!

Why did you decide to keep Santonio Holmes over Braylon Edwards? Was it an issue of money or did you just believe Holmes was a better fit?

In a perfect world we would have tried to keep both, but in a salary cap system, it's difficult to do. Holmes was a priority given his explosiveness, speed. In a cap system, we did prioritize Santonio over Braylon, though we would have loved to have them both.

I always took issue with what I saw as a lack of loyalty that the Jets organization showed towards players who had established themselves as Jets. Players such as S. Ellis, C. Pennington, P. Kendall, L. Washington, and J. Cotchery were cast aside by the team with little regard for all they had contributed to the franchise in favor of big name acquisitions who came as mercenaries and had no connection to the Jets franchise or fans. These are players that I, and many other fans, would have liked to see finish their career with the Jets and none of them had the opportunity to do so. My question is why did the Jets organization show such little loyalty to its own players during your time as GM?

Loyalty is always a challenge. You want to keep as many of your own players as you can. You understand how much fans fall in love with them over the years.

It's always a tough, tough call. You see Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Jason Taylor, not retire with their teams, it's an unfortunate product of a salary cap system.

Mr. T, What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment and regret in your time with the Jets?

Accomplishment were the back to back AFC championship games, the regret was not finishing up on a higher note, which was really hard for me

Who was one of the best (or most memorable) players that you scouted but didn’t have a chance to draft?

Matt Ryan

Who would you say was the biggest name player that you nearly signed to the team,only to have them just slip through your fingers?

Nnamdi Asomugha was that guy. It was very public, especially in the papers here. Though it worked out well for us because we were able to keep Antonio Cromartie as a result.

What's your perspective on how the media covers the Jets? Do you feel like you got a fair shake from them?

I think the popularity of our sport is great, so that's naturally going to bring a lot of coverage. All in all, I think that's a positive. It's a cycle, so one hand feeds the other in a sense. Because we have the coverage, the media enhances our popularity.

Who's your pick to win this year's Super Bowl?

Tough question. How bout I give a few teams that I think could be there in the end.

Atlanta, SF or Seattle from the NFL and in the AFC, I think it's pretty open, Denver and Baltimore I think are the odds on favorites.

Who is your favorite "sleeper" pick-up? Call it the "crowned jewel" of a GM's career, but I think that it's the small contracts that build a championship team, not the huge blockbuster ones. It may sound funny coming from a Saints fan, but it's working for the NFC West right now and the Sharpers and Thomases are who got us to the Super Bowl in 09. Who's a guy with such tremendous talent that you got him for almost nothing and he turned out to be a huge component of your AFC Championship bound teams (or was simply worth way more than he got haha)?

I'd put Danny Woodhead up there. He was a guy that was extremely productive in college. Danny's a self made player and has played in the league a long time because of high character and terrific ability.

How involved was Rex in that [the Tebow] decision? The owners?

What do you think the relationship SHOULD be between a GM and the head coach? Ultimately who does, and who should, get the final say on the roster re "talent/need"?

We discussed this internally, I had final say, everyone knows about it, ultimately it was my call and responsibility

It's a partnership, GM and head coaches spend more time together than a GM and his wife. There are big decisions from a financial standpoint. It's all about effective communication.

Do you and Rex still stay in contact with each other?

We do. The four of us (his wife, my wife), we just had dinner a couple of weeks ago. It was a detailed breakdown of 'Running with the Bulls.'

Hey Mike, what are a few of the job responsibilities of an NFL GM that are generally unknown to the general public?

I would say there's a lot of budgeting that goes on and just a lot of administrative responsibilities like checking in with all of the different department heads (video guy, security guys) on a daily basis. The day-to-day operations of the franchise.

What was the atmosphere like on draft day? I hear that it's often described as an organized chaos. What is it like on day 2 and day 3?

It's as chaotic as you think it would be. It's pretty systematic. If you've done your job and preparation, nothing should surprise you.

You worry about the things you can control and that's part of preparation. If there are opportunities to take advantage of the situation, you take advantage of them.

My question to you is reflecting back on your time with the New York Jets, what in your mind was the best decision you made and which was your worst?

Trading up for Revis was the best, Gholston not working out was the worst...asking him to play OLB when he wasn't used to it was difficult

How much control did Woody give you during your time there, and how much of a control freak was he?

In your own words, compare Woody to Robert Kraft.

Who was your favorite coach to work with? (any of HC, DC, OC, ST coahces that you've worked with)

Who was the best role model that you drafted? Not necessarily the most talented on the field, but the most influential and respected.

Woody was a great owner and gave me latitude for what I saw fit. I never worked for Kraft. Our OL coach, Bill Muir, I never walked out of his office without learning something about football or life. D'Brickashaw Ferguson was the same person every day for the last question.

Out of curiosity, did you ever make Peyton Manning an offer? Even a half hearted one.

On Peyton ... We did talk to him. We had discussions with his representatives and we moved on pretty quick after he decided to find a different fit.

Was Sanchez's contract extension given in large part to the peyton manning issue?

Football was very important to Sanchez and the effort is there with Sanchez. He was coming off a season responsible for 32 TDs [EDITOR'S NOTE: UH. OKAY.]

What was your favorite NFL team before getting involved in the business side of things in the league? Once you were hired did that loyalty change or are you still a fan of your old team, if not the Jets?

I was a Cowboys fan growing up. Once you become a professional, your loyalty is to the organization who you work for.

What are some things that you feel you were unfairly blamed for in your tenure with the Jets?

I don't think so...our contract situations were sometimes misunderstood because of the complexities. I accept the blame

Do you think last year's wave of QBs taken in the second round is a reflection of the relative strength of the class or a change in approach in drafting QBs that might repeat?

I think every year is a little bit different with the draft and specific positions.

What are your predictions for the Jets this season?

I think their defense has a chance to be very, very good.

I think offensively they have some young guys in Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley. Those young players will make the team better than people realize.

What is your take on the Riley Cooper case? Was it overblown or is it definitely something big?

I think what's important there is that you need something in place to communicate with your locker room. Either through your captains, or through a leadership council.

Situations like that are very difficult and have to be handled specific to that team. For example, is he a good person who made a mistake? There are a lot of different variables and I think it's team specific.

If you could do it again, would you go more all-in for a Super Bowl like you did or try to build more with the future in mind? More in terms of the draft, things like keeping picks and trading down (from memory, I don't believe we ever traded down during any of the drafts in your tenure)

We would try to strike a balance between win today, and prepare for the future. You try to strike that balance the best you can.

What was your draft philosophy during the mid-to-late rounds?

I always thought that a player has to have a redeeming attribute that could be built around. That's how we looked at the back end of our roster. A player like Austin Howard, who had a lot of size, is an example of that.[EDITOR'S NOTE: INTERESTING EXAMPLE, SINCE YOU DIDN'T DRAFT HOWARD.]

When hard knocks was following you did the effect of being watched and filmed change the way you operated? If so how?

It really didn't. The people at NFL Films and HBO were really incredible pros. We really stuck to doing our jobs and they were a real treat to work with.

What is the one player you regret losing the most to salary cap, to training camp cuts, or to failed contract negotiations?

I would say Jerricho Cotchery. He provided tremendous consistency and leadership for our club. He's one guy I really wish retired a Jet.

What is your favorite Bart Scott moment?

It's hard to beat Bart. Always kept everything loose. Really smart and really funny.

I think once time I was in the training room and he compared himself to an old Toyota ... a little beat up, a little dented in, but he kept on running. Solid, reliable and not flashy.

What was it like being the face of an organization that was always in the media spotlight?

You get used to it. I think you realize what you sign up for and it comes with the territory. When you have the privilege of landing one of these jobs, it comes with the territory.

Did you ever feel, after the fact, that you focused too much on the cap for any particular personnel decision? If so, how did that focus impact the decision?

Generally the cap is a way of life in any decision that gets made.. That was just part and parcel with everything we did. I always thought that part of my job as GM was to lay that out for coaches and the owner. To lay out the potential ramifications of each decision.

Hey Mike, has there ever been a player that was extremely memorable to you whether it be his story, personality, background, etc.?

Yeah, I would say James Dearth...had an inspiring story, he worked for Home Depot to perpetuate his NFL dream

Does McElroy really just not have what it takes to be a starter in this league?

I like Greg, I think he has attributes you can't see, he may not have the strongest arms, he has a reasonable chance to play in the NFL for a long time.

Do you consider Sanchez a failure as an NFL QB and what do you think went wrong with him?

Was he just too raw coming out of USC? Was Schotty just a bad OC for him to learn under? Was there too much media pressure in NY?

He has a chance to have a good NFL career, if he can cut down his turnovers...he has 4 playoff wins

What is the key for the Jets to make it to the playoffs?

QB play being consistent

What was your proudest moment during your tenure with the Jets?

I think for me, it was the day we beat the Bengals to make the playoffs, closing out the old stadium and circling the field giving high fives to the lower bowl as a team.

What are your personal thoughts on the "butt fumble"?

When those things happen, it's very disappointing.

People try and put themselves in the best position possible to succeed. You try not to get too high or too low. It was disappointing, but you try and put it behind you and move on.