INDIANAPOLIS – John Schneider loves to point out that he was in grade school in De Pere when his friend and colleague John Dorsey was playing linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. So when someone at the NFL Scouting Combine asked Schneider, the Seattle Seahawks general manager, to give a scouting report on his good friend and former Packers personnel colleague, Schneider couldn’t resist.
“As a player?” Schneider replied, smirking. “I remember him as a player. At his pro timing day, he moved the starting cone up a yard so he could run faster. So (he only ran) 39 yards – and he still ran 4.8.”
Dorsey, 52, disputed that notion – “You know what that is? That’s a young man embellishing stories,” Dorsey said of the 41-year-old Schneider – but there’s no disputing that Dorsey has his work cut out for him in his new job as Kansas City Chiefs general manager. He and head coach Andy Reid have six players who were named to the AFC Pro Bowl team last season, but the Chiefs still finished 2-14 and now hold the No. 1 overall pick in the April NFL Draft.
“This is an instantaneous society. Hopefully there’s a little more patience. We’re going to try to do the best thing we can do to acquire players and assessing players’ abilities to make this thing work,” said Dorsey, who was serving as the Packers’ director of football operations – the same title Schneider held before leaving for the Seahawks in January 2011 – when the Chiefs hired him Jan. 16.
“Let’s make no mistake about it, there (are) some other pieces that need to be improved, and that’s what we’re going to do – improve those pieces. Hopefully we’ll get more wins than we got last year, that’s what I’m hoping for, but I think there are some good pieces in place.”
And Schneider believes the Chiefs are getting a good man to arrange those pieces.
“He’s the ultimate grinder. He never stops,” Schneider said. “Loves, loves, loves college football – the tradition of it, the pageantry, loves going to the games. He can’t get enough college football, and he’s huge on tradition. So being able to go to Kansas City, for him, it was really hard to leave Green Bay having played there and everything, but if there was a team for him to go to with that type of tradition, he’s really excited about it.”
A fourth-round pick from the University of Connecticut by the Packers in 1984, Dorsey played five seasons, then became a college scout for the team in 1991. He was promoted to director of college scouting in 1997, a job he held – with the exception of a one-year stint with Mike Holmgren in Seattle – until his promotion to director of football operations last year.
Dorsey had turned down interview opportunities for GM jobs in the past – including with Indianapolis and Chicago – but the Chiefs offered something different. Not only did Dorsey see similarities to the tradition the Packers have, but his wife, Patricia, is from Kansas City and had been working remotely from De Pere for a law firm there.
“I think it’s a combination of things,” Dorsey explained. “The Chiefs are one of the crown jewels of the National Football League. They have as good a fan base as any there is in all of sports. The ownership is incredible; it gives you all the resources to work with there. And then the proximity of the Midwest. When you get that with the tradition that they have, it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime jobs that sometimes you just can’t say no to. You have to do it. And you know what? I’m happy I did it.”
Dorsey, who worked first under retired GM Ron Wolf, and then under current GM Ted Thompson, will share decision-making responsibilities on players with Reid, much like Schneider does with Pete Carroll in Seattle. While the coaches in both those scenarios have the final say on personnel decisions, both Dorsey and Schneider run their personnel departments and have tried to mold them in the likeness of Wolf and Thompson’s.
“There is only one way I have ever known, and that is the process that we have done in Green Bay in the past. I think each individual who has taken that process, tweaks it to their own strengths and weaknesses. We are going to implement that process with how we acquire players. I think that model speaks for itself over the 20 years that they have implemented that plan,” Dorsey said.
Picking first won’t be easy, as there is no clear-cut No. 1 pick in this draft. There also isn’t an obvious top quarterback prospect, leaving the Chiefs with a quandary at the position. Matt Cassel has been a disappointment, and the Chiefs spent part of the NFL Scouting Combine interviewing all the top QBs. Dorsey also said he’ll entertain any and all offers for the pick.
“It's a very unique situation sitting here in the first spot, but I can say this, if anybody wants to come up, they're more than welcome,” Dorsey said. “It all depends on the options that are presented to me. That's why I'm sitting here, because I want to explore every opportunity possible and what's best for the Kansas City Chiefs.”
Dorsey was certainly missed in the Packers' interview room during the Combine, coach Mike McCarthy said.
“I refer to him as Paul Harvey – just the way he’d ask his questions. Even though you’re in there 30 interviews in a row, having John in there always made it a little amusing at some points," McCarthy said. "He’s a grinder, a hard-worker. I know he enjoys being on the road. I don’t know how he’s going to structure that being in Kansas City. He always had great passion for college football and evaluating college guys. When he’d come back to town it would always be I saw so-and-so here, so he has a lot of passion, great work ethic, excellent family man. He’s a great fit for the Kansas City Chiefs.”
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