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Blank interviewing GM candidates

January 3rd, 2008

NFL.com’s Adam Schefter reports that Falcons owner Arthur Blank has officially begun the search for the team’s next general manager as he was in Green Bay on Wednesday to interview two potential candidates in Packers director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie and personnel analyst John Schneider. According to Shefter, tomorrow Blank will travel to Indianapolis to interview Chris Polian, son of Colts president Bill Polian. Also on Blank’s radar as far as general manager candidates is Philadelphia Eagles general manager Tom Heckert, per Schefter.

McKenzie, 44, spent seven season as a pro linebacker playing for the Los Angeles Raiders, Phoenix Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, and Montreal Machine of the World League before retiring after 1992. He served as an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee following his playing days before he was hired by Ron Wolf in 1994 as a pro personnel assistant. He was promoted to his current position following the 1997 NFL Draft.

Schneider, 36, has served in his current capacity in the Packers front office since 2002, fulfilling a role similar to that of an assistant to GM Ted Thompson. This marks his second stint with the Packers, originally joining that organization as an intern under then GM Ron Wolf in 1992. He spent the next four years as a pro personnel assistant before moving on to join the Kansas City Chiefs front office as their director of pro personnel. After three years in Kansas City, he moved to Seattle as director of player personnel for a single year. He then worked for the Washington Redskins with then head coach Marty Schottenheimer as vice president of player personnel before re-joining the Packers. Schottenheimer has already been mentioned as a potential candidate for the Falcons head coaching position, making a possible Schneider-Schottenheimer match appealing.

Polian, 35, is currently the vice president of football operations for the Colts, his third season in that capacity. He initially joined the Colts in 1998 as director of pro scouting, before moving onto assistant director of football operations in 2001 and assistant general manager in 2004. He previously worked as a scout under his father with the Carolina Panthers from 1994 until 1996, and was the Panthers pro personnel coordinator in 1997. His first stint in the ranks of pro personnel came as an assistant with the now defunct CFL team Sacramento Gold Miners in 1993. In the past, Polian has been a candidate for vacant GM jobs in both Miami and San Francisco.

Heckert, 40, is just finishing his second season as GM of the Eagles, but initially joined their front office following the 2001 draft. Then, he was the team’s director of player personnel before being promoted two years later to vice president of player personnel. Prior to joining the Eagles staff, he worked as a scout and personnel director for the Miami Dolphins for a total of 11 years. His father, Tom Heckert, Sr. served as a long-time scout with the Dolphins before retiring in 2004.

As previously reported, Schefter also reports that on Friday Blank will be in Dallas interviewing two potential head coaching candidates in Cowboys assistants Tony Sparano and Jason Garrett.

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