Getting to Know a GM: Reggie McKenzie

Read about more GM candidates here.

Reggie McKenzie was a linebacker for Oakland, Arizona and San Francisco from 1985-1992.  He joined the Green Bay Packers personnel department in 1994.  Then Packers GM Ron Wolf told McKenzie early in his career that he'll be a GM one day.

McKenzie was a pro personnel assistant from 1994-1997 when he was given the title of director of pro personnel.  He stayed in that position until May of 2008 when GM Ted Thompson promoted him to director of football operations.

The Packers have been one of the more successful franchise in the last 15 years due in large part to drafting success. 

Though McKenzie doesn't have final say in the front office regarding personnel, he's influenced many draft decisions over the past decade.  However, many of those decisions have been questionable including drafting 5 University of Tennessee players in 9 years - not coincidentally McKenzie is a UT alum. Most recently was Justin Harrell, a defensive tackle that has largely resembled a bust in his short 2-year career.

Thompson had this to say following the selection of Harrell in the 1st round in 2007:

"He’s a man’s man so to speak. This is a big man, a country kid from a town. We have all our staff, as you guys know, our director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie is Mr. Tennessee for all of us, he wears that ugly orange all the time. He has tremendous contacts there, he knows all the players there, and that was certainly helpful with that insight."

This immediately makes me nervous.  A big knock on Carl Peterson was that he only hired from the "good ol' boy" network.  Though there may be nothing to it, McKenzie's propensity for UT players makes me a little nervous.  In fact, McKenzie hired his own brother, who was still playing in the NFL at the time, at which point he rode the bench for 2 years.

McKenzie has been a candidate for multiple front office positions over the last few years.  In 2006, he was a candidate for the GM opening with the Houston Texans.  More recently, he interviewed for the open GM position in Atlanta following the 2007 season.

What is intriguing is that McKenzie helped overload a roster that was the youngest in the NFL last year.  The team won 13 games despite a perceived lack of experience.  That part of McKenzie's career excites me.  However, knowing that only Aaron Kampman, Nick Barnett, and Scott Wells remain from the first 4 drafts of the Sherman era doesn't excite me.  He's been part of a rebuilding effort that actually had success within the first 2 years - something the Chiefs haven't shown they're able to do.

Despite an impressive track record, another important aspect of a GM that is generally forgotten is the ability to manage people.  McKenzie earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from Tennessee with an emphasis in personnel management.

McKenzie's time under Ted Thompson and Ron Wolf, both successful GMs, and the Packers' pedigree of success while McKenzie has been employed makes him an intriguing candidate for GM in Kansas City.


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