NFL commissioner Roger Goodell revealed on Wednesday that former All-Pro cornerback Troy Vincent was hired as the NFL’s new executive vice president of football operations. Vincent, who had currently been heading the NFL’s Player Engagement program, succeeds Ray Anderson, who stepped down following the 2013 season in order to become the athletic director at Arizona State University.
Commissioner Goodell said of Vincent, “He knows the game inside and out from the locker room to the board room.”
Vincent does possess a well-rounded resume, having been a multiple All-Pro selection and a team captain for 13 seasons during his playing career, as well as a recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. He also served as president of the NFL Player’s Association from 2004-2008. Upon retirement he has served on several boards including the Board of Directors for the University of Wisconsin Foundation and has been involved in numerous philanthropic ventures throughout the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In 2010 Vincent was appointed to lead the NFL’s Player Engagement Organization, a program set in place to educate and help prepare players for life after football. But now, the 43 year old will change gears and set his sights on supervising football operations in the league office.
According to the release on NFL.com, the new VP’s “responsibilities will include officiating, integrity of the game, on-field discipline, game operations, player personnel, and college relations.” Many tasks that will assuredly have more than one point of view and possibly many disagreements. However, with his 22 years around the pro game, as well as ties to the NFLPA, Troy Vincent being hired as the NFL executive VP of football operations seems like a logical way to build a bridge between the players and the league.
But how will a former player, not all that far removed from the game, approach the position he has been handed, especially in a disciplinary capacity? Given the recent rule changes to protect defenseless receivers from imposing defensive backs administering knockout shots, and with Vincent being a former defensive back, will his input on the disciplinary side be more of the lenient variety, or will his opinions be even more restrictive being that he is the new man on campus?
It is difficult to say considering that Vincent has seen the game from both the player and the executive point of view, though, in his post-playing career he has seemingly kept the players best interests at the forefront. But regardless of the level of Vincent’s abilities in the league office, they will be questioned in future seasons as both the media and players critique his performance. It comes with the territory in professional sports. For now, though, the 2002 Walter Payton Man of the Year is just itching to get to work.
Vincent stated that he would like to focus on “clarity, consistency, and credibility” to ensure that the NFL continues to strive for the best possible standards for its players and teams, as well as its fan base.
Commissioner Goodell also revealed that current NFL Vice President of Labor Relations and Football Administration, Dave Gardi, will be shifted into the recently-created position entitled Senior Vice President of Football Operations. Gardi will work as a partner alongside Vincent in order to administer various policies and to implement programs in the football operations group. With Gardi being a former college quarterback, and Vincent a former defensive back it should provide a wide range of view for the new leadership team, as well as plenty to talk about between the two gentlemen.
The NFL is always changing, trying to stay on a revolutionary path. Perhaps former NFL stars becoming executives when their playing careers are over is about to become the latest league trend. Or perhaps Troy Vincent being hired as the executive VP of football operations is just another page to a post-playing resume that is starting to rival an All-Pro football career.
Commentary by Kalen Skalesky