Persistence, Determination, and a Dream Achieved: The Story of Howie Roseman

Posted: February 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

owie Philadelphia Eagles’ General Manager Howie Roseman is the talk of the town. After back-to-back solid drafts, a couple of phenomenal free agent signings, and the recent resignings of stars like Riley Cooper and Jason Peters, Eagles fans are beginning to warm up to the 38-year old executive. Things weren’t always hunky dory in The City of Brotherly Love, however. As recently as last year, most Philadelphians viewed Roseman as an “outsider.” A non-football mind in a foreign world, trying to build a program from the ground up with little more than his law degree and a finely pressed suit. Like Nicholas Sparks cast to write a Martin Scorcese movie, fans saw Roseman as a square peg mashed into a round hole. Fortunately for the franchise, this could not have been further from the truth.

Yes, Roseman has made some mistakes. Namely, the team’s failure to resign FS Brian Dawkins following the ’08 season (to be fair, that was Joe Banner and Andy Reid’s doing) and the epic chokejob that was the 2011 free agent carousel. But, it’s his ability to learn from those errors that has built him into a stronger executive. People claim that he’s not a football mind. No, he didn’t play the sport. You can thank his mother for that. She, after all, wouldn’t sign the permission slip in high school so her 125-pound son could play the game. But, make no mistake, Howie Roseman is a football mind.

As a young boy growing up in Marlboro, New Jersey, Roseman found a kinship with the management aspect of professional football. At the age of six, his obsession led the boy to sit in his bedroom everyday, conducting fantasy drafts and “player transactions” until his parents made him turn off the lights. Roseman, like a sponge slathering a sink, absorbed as much knowledge as he could. Statistics, contracts, trades, signings, releases; they were all figments of a boy’s childhood imagination. For young Howie Roseman, football was about more than the gridiron. It was about the task of fitting 53 pieces, all with different edges and shapes, into one championship puzzle. Now, as an adult, Roseman is using his childhood dreams to his advantage.

It wasn’t as though Roseman got this job because of his connections. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. A lifelong New York Jets fan with dreams of becoming their GM, Roseman began writing every NFL team when he was still in high school. Having not been allowed to play football by his parents, Howie knew that his interest would be met with rampant skepticism. It took years to even get a response to his letters. From his time in high school, to his term as an undergraduate at the University of Florida, and finally through his time as a law student at Fordham University, Roseman wrote NFL front office personnel, pleading with them for a chance at a job. If anyone showed even the faintest bit of interest, Roseman would do his best to get to know them by name and implant his existence and interest in their memory.

Finally, after years of desperate pleas, Roseman hooked a fish. Mike Tannenbaum, then the Pro Personnel Director for the Jets, responded to Roseman’s inquiry. “The only reason I’m even going to spend five minutes with you (is because)…I look at my resume file, I have 20 letters from you (Roseman), and every time I send you a rejection, you’d send a thank you for the rejection,” said Tannenbaum, who would eventually become the GM of the Jets. Still, Roseman’s ability to get a response from Tannenbaum didn’t get his foot in the door. In fact, Tannenbaum and then Eagles’ executive Joe Banner found the kid’s persistence rather questionable, with his methods becoming a bit of a running joke between the two. “Could somebody be that persistent and be normal?” Tannenbaum asked his colleague.

“Was this guy the most persistent guy in the history of America or was he crazy? Should we stay away from him or should one of us interview him?” responded Banner. It wasn’t until 1999 that Roseman’s determination finally paid off, as Tannenbaum interviewed him for a vacant entry-level position in player personnel. “I remember Mike called me up one day. We had agreed. You know what, we think he’s crazy. But Mike said, you won’t believe this. I’ve got an opening, and I’ve decided that I’m going to meet this guy.” Shortly thereafter, Roseman finished law school and passed the bar in New York and New Jersey. Despite this, he never applied for a job outside of football.

The then 23-year old wasn’t hired by the Jets following that interview. But, in 2000, Roseman was hired by the Eagles as an unpaid intern to work on salary cap issues. Hard work and good faith led to his promotion to Director of Football Administration in 2003, Vice President of Football Administration in 2006, and Vice President of Player Personnel in 2008. On January 29th, 2010, following Tom Heckert’s hiring in Cleveland, Roseman became General Manager of the Philadelphia Eagles. A life of persistence, determination, and dedication had finally paid off. From unpaid intern to king of the castle in 10 years. Not bad for a little boy from Jersey who used to do fantasy drafts in his room for fun.

For Howie Roseman, it’s not about the mistakes he’s made in the past or the likely failures of the future. Instead, it’s about the journey he took to fulfill his lifelong dream. So, the next time you hear someone say that the Eagles’ don’t have a “football mind” for a GM, feel free to argue with the passion of a Philadelphian. Not only do they have a football mind in Howie Roseman. But, they’ve also got the right mind for the job.


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