Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Cast of Thousands

Just how does Rich McKay’s personnel department manage to keep track of every pro player?

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Rich McKay (right) and Director of College Scouting Tim Ruskell use a variety of resources to keep track of potential players

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(the second in a biweekly column by Buccaneers General Manager Rich McKay)

Within the player personnel department of the National Football League there is movement every day. From player signings to simple workouts, from waivers to reserve-list maneuvers, pros and potential pros come and go on the 31 team rosters in a constant flow.

Each day at 4:00 p.m., the NFL office in New York City sends out a league announcement of what has occurred on that day. These are called personnel 'wires' and they include any player transaction that has been reported by the individual teams to the league office. Dozens, sometimes hundreds, of personnel maneuvers are listed on the wire, which is printed out by the individual teams and distributed to the various football staffs.

Even with these documents from the league, it seems like an overwhelming task to stay on top of the whereabouts, not to mention the abilities, of every potential player. It's not unusual for players to be signed and/or released several times in the same week. It's not unusual for a player to miss an entire season and then return to the league. The Buccaneers employ two different methods to record all of these movements.

The first method is handled via computer. Each and every NFL player is assigned a numeric code, i.e. Dave Moore is "16350". Any time that player is part of an NFL transaction, his name and number are pulled up and the current information is added to his personnel file by our staff.

Each transaction has a different code to track the type of player movement, from "AP" (activated 3rd quarterback in a game) to "WA" (waived player), and these codes are input into the system. That creates a giant database from which a variety of reports can be drawn, such as who is on the roster of the Miami Dolphins, who was inactive for last week's games or even who worked out for the Jacksonville Jaguars last week.

In each player file, all information is recorded and stored for everything that happens during his NFL career in addition to the player's address, phone number, agent information, player grade and all scouting reports written during his playing history.

In addition, the files contain positive or negative comments from the coaching staff for the player on and off the field and any injuries that he might have sustained throughout their career. All of this helps the Buccaneers form a quick opinion on a player when and if he becomes eligible to be signed.

Suppose a player were to be released from the Green Bay Packers. With this information, if the scouting reports were positive, the team make a swift decision on its interest and quickly contact either the player or the agent about a future workout or signing.

Not everything is done on the computer in the Buccaneer pro personnel department, however.

Another method used by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to keep track of NFL player movement is a series of personnel boards on the department walls. These large magnetic boards hold all thirty-one teams' current 53-man rosters, practice squads and injured reserve lists. Grouped by positions, they are ranked from best to worst within their specific unit.

As players are signed or waived, new magnets are added or deleted to each team, providing a "hard copy" or quick reference at all times for the coaching and scouting staffs. These small labels contain a surprisingly large amount of information on each player, including height, weight, 40-yard dash time, jersey number, year he entered the league and a color grade with our estimation of his NFL playing ability. If anyone in the department or on the coaching staff needs to know who the Seattle Seahawks starting left tackle is and what we think of him, the board will quickly show him the answer: Walter Jones, six-foot five inches tall, weighs 301 pounds, runs 40-yards in 4.61 seconds (rare), entered the league in 1997 and is one of the top tackles in the league today.

The Bucs' day-to-day pro personnel maneuverings are accomplished with a combination of these two resources, which are meticulously updated. It takes a staff that believes in attention to detail in order to record and monitor all of the league's movements. When it is completely updated, however, the system allows the Buccaneers to make quicker and more educated decisions when discussing player movement.

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