Terry McDonough fits Steve Keim's vision

January, 23, 2014
1/23/14
6:00
PM ET
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Steve Keim has a type.

It’s not looks he was after when he promoted Terry McDonough from the Arizona Cardinals' eastern regional scout to vice president of player personnel on Thursday. Keim, who’s entering his second season as the Cardinals general manager, doesn’t want a “Yes” man as his second-in-command. He wants him to be honest and open with his opinions. That’s what he had in Jason Licht, who left the Cardinals to become Tampa Bay’s general manager on Tuesday.

And it’s what he is getting with McDonough, who joined Arizona last season after 10 years with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“I think my strength is, and I got this from my father (the late famed sports writer Will McDonough), I am not afraid to tell Steve the truth based on how I see it,” McDonough said. “So, a lot of times I think people, when they work for someone and they might be a little hesitant to say how they really feel because they want to go along with the bosses. I think that’s a natural instinct for a lot of human beings, but that’s not who I am.

“I’m a team player, but I am also very true to how I feel about evaluations, about situations. So, I think my strength is you’re gonna get Terry McDonough's opinion, not what someone else might feel or think.”

That has the potential to end up volatile.

When Keim was introduced as the Cardinals' GM last January, he said he and Licht “don’t quite get into a full MMA match, but we have some disagreements.”

“Yeah, that’s going to happen again,” McDonough said with a dry sarcasm.

Besides the fact that Keim is his boss, McDonough wouldn’t ever pick a physical fight with him. McDonough scouted Keim 20 years ago when Keim was an offensive guard at N.C. State. In his report on Keim -- which McDonough said he still has -- he described Keim in a way he’s never done since.

“He’s the only player I’ve ever referred to in my summary as a street fighter,” McDonough said.

Well, that street fighter has a great poker face.

When the mutual interest between Licht and Tampa Bay began to intensify, McDonough said Keim never showed his hand, keeping his successor to Licht “close to the vest.” That was also when McDonough began thinking about the possibility of replacing Licht.

Now that the move has been made, he’ll be in Arizona this weekend to begin house hunting and will start work in the Cardinals’ Tempe practice facility on Monday. He’s moving from Jacksonville, Fla., trading in the beach for the desert, but he’ll also be closer to family. His brother, Ryan, is the general manager of the Phoenix Suns.

McDonough’s role as vice president of player personnel won’t be vastly different than his role as director of player personnel with the Jaguars from 2009-2012. The difference in titles, he said, is essentially semantics.

His role hasn’t yet been explicitly defined by Keim, McDonough said, although he expects to do a lot of work with pro and college scouting, preparing for May’s draft, and working on unrestricted free agency in March.

“We’ll hit the ground running,” McDonough said. “I think it’s a little bit of pro work, a little bit of college scouting, and helping Steve on a daily basis with the day-to-day operations of the football team.”

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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