How to Become an NFL GM

A General Manager plays an important role in the day-to-day operations of a team, regardless of the sport. They also play a role in the odds of a team achieving long-term, sustained success. If you want to have that kind of influence, you might be wondering how someone becomes a GM for a sports team.

Naturally, if your favorite sport is football, you’re probably specifically wondering how you can become a general manager in the NFL. Although achieving this career goal can require a significant amount of dedication and hard work, it’s not impossible to accomplish. This overview will help you better understand what an NFL GM does, how much an NFL GM can earn, and what you can do to boost your odds of becoming a successful GM. If you’re not sure how to become a GM of an NFL team, keep reading to learn what you need to know.

What does an NFL GM do?

The first step to becoming a successful football GM at any level, whether for the NFL, an amateur league, or a university, involves learning about what a GM does. Knowing what being a GM is will help you determine whether this career path is right for you.

The role of GM is among the most esteemed of all football jobs, which is particularly true of GMs who work for NFL teams. They are essentially the heads of personnel departments. An NFL GM is typically very involved in decisions involving players as well. For example, if a coach wants to bring a new player onto the team, the GM has final veto power regardless of the coach’s clout and reputation.

This is partially because hiring the head coach is among the many responsibilities a GM often has. Other common responsibilities of NFL GMs include hiring members of the personnel department, ensuring team rosters are in accordance with the NFL’s salary cap, coordinating with scouts to ensure they are seeking players according to the expectations and standards of a team, and more.

A GM also has the power to make decisions they consider to be in a team’s best interests when it appears that current circumstances are preventing a team from succeeding. For example, a GM has the power to fire virtually anyone. 

All of this may sound complex, but it’s actually fairly simple when you apply a basic analogy. Restaurants often have owners who hire other individuals to manage their restaurants. The managers have the power to make critical decisions about the business, but they report to the owner. The same principle and dynamic apply to NFL GMs.

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How much does a GM in the NFL make?

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career as an NFL GM, you may want to consider certain practical factors before concluding this is the ideal career path for someone with your talent and ambition. For example, you might be asking, “How much does an NFL GM make a year?”

Many GMs in the NFL tend to make between $1 million and $3 million annually. Some make even more. While there are other NFL GMs who earn below this range, for the most part, this is one of the most lucrative football jobs available to those off the field.

How to become a GM of an NFL team

There’s no single way to become a GM of an NFL team, which is the case with many football jobs. The path one GM took may not be the same as that of another.

In general, though, it’s fairly common for GMs to have played football in some capacity, whether in high school, college, or even as prospective NFL players themselves. However, this is by no means a requirement.

There are also no specific educational requirements for those who wish to become NFL GMs. That said, many of the most successful GMs in football have business degrees or similar educational backgrounds. Mainly because succeeding as a GM is often easier when one has a relatively thorough understanding of such subjects as contract law, accounting, and of course, management.

NFL teams are essentially businesses. Football management jobs are, therefore, not very different from management jobs in other industries. If you understand how to run a business and guide it toward success, you will potentially have the skills necessary to thrive as an NFL GM.

Just understand that you almost certainly won’t start off your career as a general manager in the NFL. Trends indicate that the NFL promotes from within. As such, you should seek out NFL internships to make the proper connections, then seek out jobs in football management departments. If you make the right impression on your employers and climb the ladder, your odds of securing a position as an NFL GM will increase substantially over the years.

Landing this particular football job requires much patience. That said, if you’re truly passionate about a job in the NFL, it’s possible to achieve your dreams.

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Top General Managers in the National Football League

The criteria for evaluating who is and isn’t a “top” GM in the NFL can vary depending on who you speak with. Most experts agree that the best way to determine whether a particular GM is strong and effective is to simply analyze how successfully they’ve managed to assemble teams of personnel that can operate together as a cohesive unit. For example, some current GMs who are considered to be among the elite include: 

  • Jason Licht of The Buccaneers 
  • Brandon Beane of The Bills 
  • Eric DeCosta of The Ravens 
  • John Lynch of The 49ers 

In recent years, they’ve all been lauded for their dedication to cultivating teams that grow consistently, even if they don’t always thrive in the rankings. You may one day join their ranks as well.

Getting Started

Again, there’s no single way to become a successful NFL GM, but pursuing football jobs is an important step to take. JobsinSports can help you find these roles. Get started by joining our network for free today.