RealJobs: Chris Shea

Describe your current job.

 

I am the Player Personnel Administrator for the Miami Dolphins’ of the National Football League.  In this capacity, I combine my background as a football coach, NFL scout, and lawyer to manage the Dolphins’ Player Personnel and Football Administration Departments.  The “Player Personnel Department” is our scouting operation, while “Football Administration” is responsible for all legal and financial matters related to the Dolphins’ Football Operation.

In the Player Personnel aspect of my job, I perform several different functions, including:

(1)    Assist in developing player acquisition and roster-building strategy,

(2)    Scouting NFL and college players,

(3)    Coordinating year-round operations of both our college and profession scouting operations,

(4)    Overseeing preparations for the annual NFL Draft by our scouting and coaching staffs,

(5)    Participating in planning for our NFL Free Agent Signings, and

(6)    Directing the development of all of our scouting-related technology.

In my Football Administration capacity, I closely with senior management on matters, including:

(1)   Compliance with NFL rules and the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement,

(2)   Player contract negotiations,

(3)   Contract drafting,

(4)   Player payroll management,

(5)   Any player-related legal matters, and

(6)   Analysis of league-wide player personnel and contract trends.

Is there a typical day? If so, what does it entail?

 

There really isn’t a typical day. My days vary greatly based on the time of year.  The NFL Season is busy, but for anyone in the player personnel business, the period from January to May is even busier because that is when we can sign/draft the greatest number of players.

On a continual basis, we are focused on managing our roster, evaluating the performance of our own players and scouting all players we could possibly add to our team.  In preparation for the annual NFL Draft of college players, we meet several times a year to review all the draft prospects from college football.  We also meet annually to review every potential NFL free agent player we might want to add to our team.  When we conduct these meetings, a typical day starts at 7:00 a.m. and ends between 8:00 p.m. & 9:00 p.m.  There are even longer days than that when we go to events like the annual NFL Scouting Combine (which is a essential a mass job interview for college players entering the NFL held in Indianapolis, IN every February).  At the Combine we are “on the go” from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. every day.

We also engage in contract negotiations once we acquire the players through the Draft or target him in free agency.  I am part of a “negotiations team” two other attorneys which handles our player contract negotiations.   These days can also be very long, especially when we get close to a deal.  On several occasions in the last year, my colleagues and I were in the building from before 8:00 until after midnight trying to “get a deal done.”

There is little down time, and as one of my mentors is fond of saying, “This is not a business for the well adjusted.”  Putting in the hours in this career requires passion for what you are doing, and  I am fortunate that I love the grind of this industry.

What types of work activities take up most of your time?

 

There are really two distinct categories of work activities I engage in: (1) labor and (2) management.

I have numerous tasks in which I am performing “labor” of some kind.  It could be scouting players, drafting contracts or any number of other things.  However, an equally important and more time consuming aspect of my job is “managing” the labor of others.  I operate as a sort of “air traffic controller” making sure that our scouting staff, football administration staff and support staff are all effectively working together to gather the information we need on players, contracts, and other teams.

For example, we have nine college scouts, and it is my job to ensure that their efforts cover every single player at every school in the country we might be interested in adding to our team.  Our scouts the travel throughout the country watching players play, going to practices, gathering information about the players and submitted detailed reports on their findings.  We will sometimes have as many as five different scouts go to a single school during each Fall.  I have to make sure that our scouts’ time is allocated properly to ensure we have the information we need to really know every draft prospect.

What made you decide upon your current career?

I was very fortunate to know at an early age to have known I wanted to build a career in football.  I had a passion growing up for the game, and it really started when I was young watching Doug Flutie’s Boston College teams with my father (who is also a BC alumnus).  Since high school, I have known this is the industry I wanted to be a part of.  Although I knew it would be difficult, I decided to choose a career that would allow me to follow my passion.   I believe in the old adage, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Describe your career path since graduation.

Prior to joining the Dolphins, I was the Coordinator of Labor Operations for the NFL Management Council (2007-08). I was responsible for reviewing all NFL player contracts to ensure teams complied with the CBA and NFL Policy. Also, I advised team executives on player contract and salary cap issues, was a speaker at the NFL Labor Seminar, and participated in a strategic group developing proposals for the next round of NFL/NFLPA collective bargaining. He also served as an Instant Replay Communicator for the NFL Officiating Department.

While attending Hofstra University School of Law from 2004-07, I began my tenure at the NFLMC in 2007 as a Law Clerk focusing on player-related litigation. During this period, I was also employed as a Law Clerk at the New York labor law firm of Colleran, O’Hara and Mills (2006-07), a student advocate for the Unemployment Action Center (2006-07) and as a Scouting Consultant with the Dallas Cowboys (2005-06).

I spent 2000-04 as the New York Jets’ Pro Personnel Assistant.

I joined the Jets from collegiate positions as the Football Recruiting Assistant at Boston College (1998 –2000) and the Asst. Offensive Line Coach for Harvard University (1997-98).

I earned my Juris Doctor degree from the Hofstra University School of Law, and am a member of the New York State Bar Association.

Is there any sort of career preparation (graduate degree; internships, etc.) that is vital to your field?

For scouting, it is vital to have a football background in playing, coaching and/or recruiting.  Its practical experience that is critical to developing the ability to accurately scout players.  A great deal of the art of scouting can be learned on the job, but a certain basic level of knowledge is a threshold requirement.

In legal matters, obviously, being an attorney is a prerequisite.

What sorts of jobs/internship/campus activities did you do as an undergraduate?

 

I was a student football manager at Boston College from 1992-1996.  This activity took up as many as 40 hours a week during the Fall; however, it was an invaluable classroom and networking opportunity for me.

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