Marc Ross

XFL Hires Russ Brandon, Doug Whaley, Marc Ross

By the time the XFL returns for its third launch, two years without major spring football will have passed. But the Dwayne Johnson-spearheaded league remains intent on restarting again in 2023.

XFL 3.0 made some notable hires recently. Former Bills CEO Russ Brandon is coming aboard as the league’s president, Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com notes. In addition to Brandon’s post, the XFL is hiring ex-Giants exec Marc Ross as executive VP and will bring back another ex-Bills GM in Doug Whaley to work with Ross.

This marks a return to a major post for Brandon, whose 20-plus-year Bills tenure ended in 2018. Brandon worked as Bills GM in the late 2000s but was with the franchise from 1997-2018. Brandon held an advisory role with RedBird Capital Partners, which joined Johnson in buying the XFL out of bankruptcy.

An 11-year Giants staffer, Ross interviewed for the team’s GM job that went to Dave Gettleman. After landing the gig, Gettleman fired Ross, who landed with the NFL Network. Ross, who also worked with Brandon in Buffalo, rose to the post of Giants college scouting director. He will oversee on-field operations, Seifert adds.

Whaley was with the XFL during its second launch, under Vince McMahon in 2020, and worked with Brandon in Buffalo during his four-season GM stay. The Bills parted ways with Whaley after the 2017 draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Satisfied Rooney Rule Before Mike Mayock Hire

Last offseason, the Raiders caught flack for hiring a head coach off of the TV screen and potentially not living up to the spirit of the Rooney Rule. This week, they went back to the well to hire former NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock as their GM. They may or may not have given real consideration to minority candidates, but they did technically check that box.

Before the Mayock hire, the Raiders interviewed former Giants college scouting director Marc Ross and former Eagles personnel man Trey Brown, according to Mike Florio of PFT (on Twitter) and Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Raiders also reached out to former Giants GM Jerry Reese, but he declined the opportunity.

With the Ross and Brown interviews, the Raiders ensured that they will not face a penalty for violating the Rooney Rule. However, their course of action is reminiscent of last year when they interviewed Tee Martin and Bobby Johnson for a head coaching job that was already promised to Jon Gruden.

Giants Fire Player Evaluation VP Marc Ross

On his first day as Giants GM, Dave Gettleman fired one of the few other candidates interviewed for his position.

Gettleman dismissed VP of player evaluation Marc Ross on Saturday. Ross interviewed for the vacant GM job earlier this month and had been with the Giants since 2007. He’d worked in his current post for five years.

Among Ross’ duties while with the Giants were overseeing the Giants’ draft and the franchise’s college scouting department. Prior to rising to his most recent NFL post, Ross served as the director of college scouting under Jerry Reese.

I worked with Marc when I was with the organization before,” said Gettleman. “I have great respect for him and high regard for his work. Clearly, we’re going in a different direction, but that doesn’t make these kinds of decisions any easier.”

The Giants have landed some gems in the draft during Ross’ run in his current post — Odell Beckham Jr., Jason Pierre-Paul and Landon Collins being the most noteworthy names during Ross’ tenure — but they’ve struggled in key spots as well in recent years. Ereck Flowers and Eli Apple both arrived as top-10 picks, and they have not panned out to this point.

Ross, assistant GM Kevin Abrams and former NFC East front office presence Louis Riddick joined Gettleman this month in interviewing for the Giants’ GM job.

Giants Interview Marc Ross For GM Job

The Giants announced that they have interviewed Marc Ross for their GM vacancy. Ross has spent more than a decade with the organization, including the last five years as the Giants’ vice president of player evaluation.

Ross’ job places him in charge of the Giants’ college scouting department and the team’s draft. He is said to be among the team’s leading internal candidates for the job, along with interim GM Kevin Abrams. It is expected that Abrams and former Panthers GM Dave Gettleman will also interview this week, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter).

It has been suggested that George Paton (Vikings), Eliot Wolf (Packers), and Joe Douglas (Eagles) could also be among those considered. For now, Ross, Abrams, and Gettleman are the only executives confirmed to have interviews scheduled.

Ross was among the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s suggested candidates for GM jobs last year, though he was not on the list this season.

East Notes: Cowboys, Giants, Hackenberg, Jets

Jerry Jones offered a measured response to Roger Goodell‘s new extension when asked about it on Friday morning.

“No, I don’t really [have any comment],” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan (transcript via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News). “We’re having a very important [owners] meeting here in Dallas next week beginning Wednesday. That’s very meaningful. I’m looking forward to that. That’ll be very meaningful as we go forward. One of the things that I think that has been mentioned is any role that I might have had in the extension of Roger. As you know, I’ve been on both ends of it as far as any criticism. It’s been my experience in 30 years in the NFL that to make change and to make positive change — every time we all strive to make the NFL better, I include every owner with that — it’s hard. It’s very, very hard. If you really want to make some changes, you usually end up getting a lot of criticism along the way. It’s happened every time with me when we’ve had meaningful change. … We’ll see how it goes forward, but there’s nothing that has surprised me here.”

While Jones seethes behind closed doors, let’s take a look at the latest from the East divisions:

  • Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com spoke with people around the league to size up some potential candidates for the Giants‘ GM vacancy. The names he’s hearing include Eliot Wolf (Packers), Nick Caserio (Patriots), Scott Pioli (Falcons), Trent Kirchner (Seahawks), Dave Gettleman (ex-Panthers GM), Louis Riddick (currently with ESPN), and internal candidates Kevin Abrams and Marc Ross.
  • Can Christian Hackenberg still be the Jets‘ quarterback of the future? The former second round pick has yet to see the field, but Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News won’t rule out the possibility that he could be in the mix next season. For his part, Hackenberg admits that he is anxious to take an NFL snap. “In order to grow and learn, you need to get hit in your mouth,” Hackenberg said. “You need to fail. Then you grow from that. There’s really no intimidation. I got to experience things. I felt like I experienced a lot of really good things this preseason and some things I need to learn from. That’s all part of the process. If you don’t experience both ends of the spectrum, you’re not getting everything out of the adventure.”

Pollard Alliance Releases HC Candidates List

The Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation typically releases its list of recommended minority head coaching candidates in January. This year, we have an early preview of the list, courtesy of Tom Pelissero of USA Today. This year’s suggested candidates will include Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, Cardinals OC Harold Goodwin, and Vikings DC George EdwardsTeryl Austin (vertical)

Austin was a popular candidate for coaching vacancies last year but ultimately did not find a head coaching gig. After interviewing with the Browns, Dolphins, Giants, and Eagles, Austin indicated that he felt only two of the interviews were “legitimate” while the other two were only done to satisfy the Rooney Rule, which stipulates that a minority candidate must be interviewed for every job. Since the Browns hired a black coach in Hue Jackson, Austin presumably isn’t accusing Cleveland of interviewing him to fulfill the requirement.

The Bills installed Lynn as their OC in September after ousting Greg Roman. The Bills have been up-and-down this year, but they now stand at 6-6 despite injuries to key players. Lynn has had to run the Bills’ offense without star wide receiver Sammy Watkins for much of the year and teams will certainly take notice of his capable job despite the less-than-ideal circumstances.

Goodwin has made no secret of his desire to land a head coaching job. However, there are some factors working against him. First, the Cardinals offense has struggled this season. Secondly, despite rave reviews from those around him, Goodwin does not call the plays in Arizona, and that could deter interested teams.

Edwards was placed on the Pollard list for the first time last year and he returns this season. Like Goodwin, he does not call plays for his team despite the coordinator title. However, he comes with a strong recommendation from head coach Mike Zimmer and he did call the plays against the Cowboys when Zimmer was recovering from surgery. With Edwards at the wheel, the Vikings allowed just 17 points against one of the league’s most electric offenses.

The foundation also released a list of general manager candidates including Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross, Raiders director of player personnel Joey Clinkscales, former Lions GM and current Giants exec Martin Mayhew, and Eagles director of college scouting Trey Brown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Dolphins, Gruden, Browns, Titans

As the Dolphins search for their next head coach, the areas they’re prioritizing when talking to candidates are quarterback and defense, writes Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Dolphins brass wants to hear from prospective head coaches how they plan to help the two improve after an up-and-down fourth season from Ryan Tannehill and a year in which the defense finished 25th overall.

Further, per Salguero, interim head coach Dan Campbell‘s only chance to get a promotion to the full-time role is if he presents Miami’s hierarchy with two proven coordinators willing to join his staff. Whether it’s Campbell or someone else, the Dolphins want a coach who has real solutions to repair their problems on both sides of the ball.

More from around the NFL:

  • A report Thursday night stated that ex-head coach Jon Gruden is interested in the Eagles’ job, but CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tweets otherwise. Gruden to the Eagles is “not happening and not discussed,” La Canfora offers.
  • With perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas facing an uncertain future with the Browns, Cleveland.com took a look at which teams could be candidates to acquire the 31-year-old during the offseason. The list consists of the Packers, Broncos (who tried to acquire Thomas at this season’s trade deadline), Colts, Titans, Jaguars, Chiefs, Vikings and Patriots.
  • It was reported earlier Thursday that the Titans received permission to speak with Chiefs director of football operations Chris Ballard regarding their vacant general manager job. The two are likely to powwow Monday, reports Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com (Twitter link).
  • Marc Ross, another candidate for the Titans’ GM job, might make the most sense for Tennessee if the club is looking to promote interim head coach Mike Mularkey, notes Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com. Ross, who’s currently the Giants’ vice president of player evaluation, was a member of Buffalo’s front office when Mularkey was its head coach from 2004-05.
  • The NFL has chosen the staffs of the Cowboys and Jaguars to coach the 2016 Reese’s Senior Bowl from Jan. 25-30, according to a press release. The Cowboys will coach the North team against the Jags-led South squad.

Titans Interview Ted Sundquist For GM Job

In a press release, the Titans have confirmed that they interviewed Giants vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross today for their general manager position, a meeting that had been previously reported. Within that same release, the Titans also announced that they’ve completed an interview with former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist, whose candidacy hadn’t been reported yet this week.

[RELATED: Patriots OC Josh McDaniels interested in Titans’ head coaching job]

Sundquist, who met with Titans owners Amy Adams Strunk and Kenneth Adams IV, as well as team president Steve Underwood, served as the Broncos’ GM from 2002 to 2008, with the team earning three postseason berths during that stint. Sundquist was also working for the franchise as its director of college scouting when Denver won back-to-back Super Bowls in the late 1990s.

The Titans have now brought in three candidates for interviews for their GM job, with Ross and Sundquist joining former Lions GM Martin Mayhew. Tennessee will continue the process on Friday, when Buccaneers director of player personnel Jon Robinson is scheduled to come in and meet with the team.

Chiefs director of football operations Chris Ballard and Jaguars director of player personnel Chris Polian are also expected to interview for the Titans’ GM vacancy, and the team has requested interviews with multiple candidates who have either already turned down the opportunity or are expected to do so. In other words, it appears Tennessee is casting a wide net as the club considers possible replacements for Ruston Webster.

Latest On Titans’ General Manager Search

7:47pm: The Titans announced that they interviewed Martin Mayhew for their GM position today, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets.

Jaguars director of pro scouting Chris Polian will interview with the Titans on Friday for their open GM job, as Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com writes. Meanwhile, Buccaneers Director Player Personnel Jon Robinson has been given the OK to interview for the Titans’ GM job, Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune tweets. Robinson, a Tennessee native, was mentioned as a potential candidate for the job shortly after Ruston Webster was let go.

2:40pm: When we last checked in on the Titans’ hunt for a new general manager, the team was in the process of scheduling an interview with Giants vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross, and was aiming high by targeting Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta, who typically turns down requests for interviews.

Unsurprisingly, DeCosta has indeed declined the opportunity to interview for the GM position in Tennessee, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, who tweets that the veteran Ravens executive will be staying put in Baltimore. Presumably, the Titans expected that outcome, but figured it didn’t hurt to ask.

Along those same lines, the Titans are one of two teams – along with the Lions – that hopes to interview Vikings assistant general manager George Paton, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Paton is another executive who rarely explores the opportunity to leave his current organization, so it seems unlikely that he’ll pursue the Titans’ job, but it sounds like he hasn’t officially said no yet.

As for Ross, a candidate who definitely will be meeting with the Titans, his interview is scheduled for Thursday, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Latest On Titans’ General Manager Search

The Titans don’t appear to have lined up any head coaching interviews yet, but the team has been active in pursuing possible candidates for its general manager opening. According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), Giants vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross will interview for the Titans’ GM position.

[RELATED: Titans part ways with general manager Ruston Webster]

Ross, who is believed to be under consideration for other jobs, is in charge of the Giants’ draft, which has had its share of misses in recent years — particularly when Odell Beckham is removed from the equation. Still, Jordan Raanan of NJ.com writes that Ross is well regarded by the Fritz Pollard Alliance and by former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi, who has consulted for multiple teams hiring GMs within the past few years.

In addition to Ross, Colts VP of football operations Jimmy Raye III is being targeted by the Titans, who hope to bring him in for an interview, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Tennessee is also aiming high by requesting to interview Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network (Twitter links). DeCosta has long been considered the potential GM of the future in Baltimore, and has repeatedly turned down opportunities to interview with other clubs, preferring to remain with the Ravens. We’ll see if he contemplates interviewing for the Titans’ job, which has its pros (Marcus Mariota, the No. 1 overall pick) and cons (an uncertain ownership situation).