Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Pioli looking for seat at table with Falcons
By Vaughn McClure
MOBILE, Ala. -- Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli were all smiles as they addressed the media at the Senior Bowl.
Scott Pioli, who mentored Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff in New England, said he's ready to take a more open-minded approach.
Dimitroff, the Atlanta Falcons general manager, praised the guy he just brought on board as his assistant general manager. Pioli, currently an analyst for NBC Sports Network and SiriusXM radio, joked he had at least one more week to criticize the Falcons before officially joining the team on Feb. 3.
The duo even had their drive to work Wednesday captured on video and displayed on the team's website.
Yes, everything seemed so perfect for a pair of guys who built their reputations while working with the New England Patriots. But what happens the first time Dimitroff and Pioli disagree on a draft prospect?
"The input, that's going to be something that just evolves and grows," Pioli said as Dimitroff nodded in agreement next to him. "I"m going to be, as Thomas keeps saying, a seat at the table. I don't know if it's a fat joke or what. But I'll be sitting at the table. I just care about the food, not the input."
In other words, there won't be a power struggle here, despite Pioli having already served as the general manager of the now-successful Kansas City Chiefs before his one-year hiatus from the NFL.
"Scott and I have talked about working together again at another time," Dimitroff said. "We uncovered some very interesting things out in New England. And Scott, I learned a lot from him as a mentor as well as a co-worker and good friend. We've always spent a lot of time talking about football over the years. And it's just a great opportunity for Scott to really join us and help bolster the staff not only from the personnel standpoint, but from a very, very integral and important part and person at the table. Looking forward to having Scott's insight in many, many different areas of our organization."
The Falcons obviously need another eye for talent, especially someone like Pioli with a strong background in discovering impact offensive and defensive linemen. He was New England's vice president of player personnel for three Super Bowls and worked alongside Dimitroff, who was the Patriots' director of college scouting. Pioli's ability to evaluate draft talent speaks for itself, although his résumé in terms of free agency isn't flawless.
Pioli built a contender in Kansas City during four seasons and left behind Pro Bowl players such as Eric Berry, Justin Houston, Dontari Poe and Dexter McCluster. But the Chiefs and Pioli parted ways last January after a taxing season, marred by the suicide of Jovan Belcher right in front of both Pioli and then-head coach Romeo Crennel.
Part of the problem with Pioli in Kansas City was the knock on him for being controlling. Being a member of the media for the past year has helped him realize that flaw.
"When you get in these jobs, sometimes you're so focused on what you need to do and representing and protecting the institution, organization that you work for," Pioli explained. "And sometimes, in my case in particular, I have found that I need to be a little more open-minded about certain things. And I will be."
Asked if his goal is to become a general manager again one day, Pioli came back with a quick response: "My goal is to win a championship with the Atlanta Falcons."