The day-to-day life of the average American is fairly mundane. People adapt to whatever situation they’re in, formulate a routine, and craft a life around it. There’s nothing wrong with routine. People may characterize their work and home life as boring. But boring sure as hell beats chaos. Routine breeds familiarity, predictability, and regularity, in turn, making life more comfortable. Most decisions that we make, whether at work, or in our personal lives, aren’t particularly consequential as a result. Once a routine develops, everything else falls in line.
What to have for breakfast. What new tv show to watch. When to go see that new movie…..Are mostly decisions that won’t have a long-term impact. However, every now and then, we face a fork-in-the-road.
A decision pops-up, in which we’re well aware, will have long-lasting implications. Where to go to college. What industry to work in. Where to get a first job. Who to inevitably marry. Where to raise children. Life-altering decisions. The tough part, is that in the moment, you have absolutely no idea if you’re making the right or wrong choice. All you can do is make a decision, stick to your guns, and hope for the best.
On April 26, Jets’ general manager Mike Maccagnan made one of those life-altering decisions. Now obviously, in discussing sports, generally things need to be taken with a grain of salt. There’s clearly more important things in life than football. But for Maccagnan, this isn’t just a game, it’s his life. And along with it, his legacy.
When he was 22-years old, just beginning his career, Maccagnan had a singular aspiration. To one day, be the general manager of an NFL team. It took nearly 30-years, and hours-upon-hours of work, but that dream finally became a reality in 2015. When named the Jets’ general manager, you can bet Maccagnan characterized that as the culmination of his life’s accomplishments.I’m sure he had that, “I made it” moment. He probably played Frank Sinatra’s, “My Way”, and told anyone who’s ever doubted him to go to hell. Finally reaching the pinnacle of his profession, I’m sure, was nothing short of surreal.
Now, the amazing thing about professional sports, and the NFL as a whole, is how little patience is given to new-hires. One bad year from a rookie quarterback can spell the demise of his career. As was the case for Ryan Leaf.A couple of fumbles, and a running back could be benched, never to regain his former job. As was the case for Stevan Ridley. And a few bad years from a general manager, results in his abrupt removal from that role.
In Maccagnan’s first year, the Jets went 10-6. They failed to reach the playoffs, but it was great result for the newly-hired GM. However, in the following two years, Gang Green has gone 10-22 combined. And finished last place in the AFC East both years. Whatever good-will Maccagnan built in his inaugural season has quickly eroded. Consecutive campaigns ending in that manner, brings his job into question. It seems recent, but that “I made it” moment he experienced, hangs by a thread. Another year like the previous two, could spell the end of his reign as general manager. He was well aware of that. That’s one of the driving forces behind his aggression this offseason. It’s why the Jets traded a hefty sum to move from the sixth, to the third selection in this year’s draft.
As we all know, the result of the trade, was acquiring a 20-year old quarterback. Sam Darnold of USC. What’s amazing, is the weight this decision holds. Maccagnan’s near 30-year journey, the thousands of hours of work, all leading to his hiring as the Jets’ general manager…….
Rests on the shoulders of a 20-year old kid. Maccagnan’s legacy, how he’ll be remembered in New York….Is now burdened by Sam Darnold. Someone three years younger than myself.
Like choosing where to go to college. In the vein of deciding which industry to work in. Similar to picking out who you’ll eventually marry….Mike Maccagnan faced an equally daunting decision.
He faced that fork-in-the-road. He could’ve chosen Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, or who knows, maybe even Kyle Lauletta in the later rounds.
But he made his decision. To draft Sam Darnold. All the while knowing, that this choice would determine how he’ll be remembered. His career legacy, in a job he dreamed of having his entire life. Drafting Sam Darnold may seem like just that…..A draft pick.
But, for Mike Maccagnan, it’s much more.