Every year, it seems there are a handful of profiles in the media on the grueling life of an NFL scout or features on coaches that sleep on the floor during the season.
It’s become so ingrained into the culture of the NFL that no one has ever seemed to question it. This is how things are done, and if you aren’t working that hard, you may not be cut out for life in the NFL.
But like many people during this quarantine caused by the COVID-19 crisis, Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn is questioning his life priorities during this time. For the past few weeks, the Lions facility has been closed down, and he has had to work from his home. And spending that much time with his family has made him wonder if this gauntlet lifestyle of no sleep and little family time is really necessary to do his job well.
“It’s hard being a coach in this league. It’s hard being a scout in this league. It’s hard being a GM in this league when you’re away all the time,” Quinn told reporters after the final day of the 2020 NFL Draft.
But after working remotely alongside his wife and kids, Quinn has gotten by just fine, and now he’s thinking about potentially changing the way they do things at Allen Park.
“This could be a good lesson for us to kind of have a good balance in our lives in the offseason,” Quinn said. “Knowing that the draft is critically important to what we do, but maybe we can tone down the hours and work smarter, rather than longer. Maybe do a few things virtually a day or two a week. I’m going to look into that.”
It’s obviously a huge inconvenience for Quinn, having to significantly adjust his method of communication during the most crucial part of the year for him. Having to trade Pro Days and in-house visits for Zoom calls with draft prospects isn’t quite the same thing, and everyone in the NFL had to adjust on the fly.
But for the three days of the NFL Draft, Quinn—and every other NFL general manager—made it work. Quinn went above and beyond to make sure there were no technical issues by bringing his IT director to his home via a parked Winnebago. And while it may have drawn some laughs online, it worked.
“We had no technology glitches at all,” Quinn said after Day 1 of the draft. “Everything was really smooth on our end.”
The virtual draft also provided something else cool for the Quinn family: TV time for his kids, Kyle and Grace. Just about every time the Lions were on the clock early in the draft, ESPN broadcasts would cut to Quinn’s son and daughter as they experienced being on live televisions. Kyle and Grace even to to see and hear from some of their old friends from the New England days.
But it wasn’t just about making a cameo during the draft, Quinn bonded with his kids by letting them in on how their dad conducts business during the draft. Because of the fast pace of Day 3, he employed his kids to help out and cross names off his big board as the players were drafted.
“They were in here with my office the entire draft,” Quinn said. “So I thought that was really, really cool. They didn’t miss a player.”
Quinn wouldn’t say if he believes the league could be heading in a more virtual direction for future drafts, but according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Quinn was not the only NFL executive that treated this draft as an eye-opening experience.