Jerry Angelo Needs to Be the “Manager”

The Peter Principle states that “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”, meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently.

The problem with climbing up the latter at any place of employment is that they promote you for doing a well at what you do to fill a position where you are called upon to do something totally different.  For instance, I was promoted to professor in a science department at an academic institution because I could do experiments at the bench. Guess how many experiments I’ve done in the past five years?  What I do all day now is sit at a desk and write when I’m not in committee meetings.  The people who work for me do all the real work that I used to do.  That’s the way of the world.

I doubt very much that the world of professional football is very different.  You go from scout to general manager and your duties differ considerably from what you did before.  You either adapt or you fail.  Sometimes I wonder about Bears general manager Jerry Angelo‘s transition into his role.

Michael C. Wright says that Angelo was extremely embarrassed by the Bears-Ravens trade debacle. He should be:

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune relays the account of what happened:

“[The Ravens] say the trade was finalized with three minutes remaining on their clock. The Bears never reported the trade to the league.

“Angelo said he told staff members to phone in the deal with a little more than two minutes remaining on the clock. But two staff members each thought the other was making the call so it never was made. Newsome was exasperated as he spoke with the NFL and the Bears while the final two minutes expired.”

I know I seem to be the only fan in Chicago who is really bothered by this in the afterglow of what most consider a successful Bears draft.  Certainly the tendency of Bear fans is to defend the team.  Jason Cole at Yahoo Sports understands that as well.  But he also understands that Bears fans might be letting their bias cloud their view of the situation.

“The most popular point Chicago fans have made is that Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome is believed to have done the same thing in 2003 to the Minnesota Vikings.

“The problem that Bears fans don’t understand is that there’s a unique difference between the two situations.

“In 2003, Newsome at least tried to call the league to confirm the trade.”

But maybe what was most interesting in Cole’s article were the quotes from an unnamed NFC executive on the matter:

“I would hope nobody would ever do that intentionally to screw somebody over, but even accidentally is really bad  You’re talking about people’s jobs being on the line. That embarrasses everybody involved. Ozzie [Newsom] is lucky that [Baltimore owner Steve] Bisciotti trusts him so much. For a lot of other guys, your owner might look at you like an idiot even if the other team made the mistake.”

“I like Jerry, but what he said is BS. If you gave me your word and didn’t even call the league or didn’t call me back in time to fix the situation, that’s wrong. Dead wrong.  You should pay some penalty. I don’t know what it is, but something. I think Baltimore should have gotten the pick.

“Again, this is a high-pressure situation. You can’t just say, ‘Oh, no harm, no foul.’ That could be my job on the line.”

If there’s a question of whether Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newson’s job might have been on the line, how much more is it true of Angelo’s?

I’m not going to claim to be the best manager of people. But I can definitively say one thing. The single best way to virtually guarantee that something doesn’t get done is to tell two people to do a one person job. If you do its almost 100% that they’ll each conveniently assume the other person is acting on it it.  And if it doesn’t get done, then, hey, you both share the blame.  Besides, if two people make the same mistake, how bad could it have been?

Anyone who manages people for a living will tell you that you always ask one person by name to do a job and make them personally responsible.  And there’s the rub.  Angelo’s a good scout.  But is he a good manager?   Isn’t that his title?

There is more to being a general manager than scouting.  In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Angelo’s role in the process at the ground level is relatively superficial.  And if last week’s snafu was any example, he needs to pick up his game in the area that his job really centers on.


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