Howie Roseman’s Geek-Fueled Football Fantasy

How did the current Eagles GM, someone who’s never played a down of organized football, become the man in charge of the Birds’ roster?

Roseman admits he’s still a work in progress in the GM role, but the results of the three drafts he’s captained illustrate his swift learning curve. Four of his 13 picks in 2010 weren’t with the team in training camp, and his first-round selection, defensive end Brandon Graham, has been a bust thus far. The following year was more of a mixed bag, with some hits (sixth-round center Jason Kelce) and head-scratchers (kicker Alex Henery in round four). This season’s draft was among the NFL’s best, addressing critical needs and doing so with potential game-day studs. Even before he became GM, Roseman’s freakish—and nerdish—attention to detail was evident in his constant tweaking of the bottom of the 80-man preseason roster. One of his finds was Colt Anderson, who’s now among the league’s best special-teams players.

The boy wonder isn’t without his critics. In 2010, as Roseman tried to trade Donovan McNabb, Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports framed him as a “shakedown artist” and quoted an anonymous GM who said Roseman was “trying to be too smart for his own good.” But agent Todd France says the knocks on Roseman are groundless: “At the end of the day, he’s trying to get the best deal for his team.” Didinger adds: “Pro football is like any other industry. There’s a cattiness to it. I have no doubt there are guys who’ve put in years in the league and wonder, ‘Who’s this guy to get a GM job?’ The only way to put that to rest is to win.”

Back in his office, Roseman gives generic answers to questions about how he’s running the team. The only time he opens up is when I ask about Samuel and his “fantasy football” comments last season. “I was pissed off,” Roseman says, adding that he told the cornerback how he felt in a closed-door man-to-man meeting.

In some ways, Roseman bears little resemblance to the typical Eagles fan. His idea of the perfect Sunday doesn’t involve face-painting and a case of Miller High Life. That doesn’t mean there’s no fire in his belly, or that he lacks the steely will to stand up to veteran GMs who try to bully the new kid, or that he doesn’t have a blue-collar attitude about his job. His childhood dream wasn’t to get rich—it was to build a championship NFL team. “This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for,” Roseman says of the pressure he’s facing this year, out of Banner’s shadow for the first time. “We’re excited about the season. The players are just hungry—hungry to erase the taste of last year. All of us are.”

As of this writing, Las Vegas has the Birds at 10-1 for a Super Bowl victory. Considering Roseman’s lifetime record for somehow figuring out how to get what he wants despite much stiffer odds, the smart money is on the fantasy football dork.

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