Daryl Johnston: The best and worst parts of becoming a GM with the new Alliance
(EDITOR’S NOTE: To access the Daryl Johnston interview fast-forward to 25:45 of the attachment above)
Daryl Johnston left a lucrative job with FOX Sports to serve as general manager of the San Antonio Commanders, one of eight franchises in the new Alliance of American Football League. And while the season is only four weeks old, Johnston already has a sense of what he like most … and least … about the job.
In fact, he articulated them when he joined the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, detailing the best and worst parts of trading in 18 years as an NFL broadcaster to become a GM with a start-up league.
“The best part,” said Johnston, a former Pro Bowl fullback for the Dallas Cowboys, “is really having the opportunity to do some things from a league standpoint that maybe other people in the GM role didn’t get the opportunity to contribute. Because we are a true start-up and were doing things a little bit differently.
“(League co-founder) Bill Polian has been great at soliciting advice on our weekly conference calls with the eight GMs that have been a part of the league. He’s been very open to our suggestions, and I think the collaborative effort has been very important. I think that we have put some good things in place.
“The cool thing about this is that the Alliance is a single-owner entity. So if we think that there’s something should be changed, it gets changed at the Alliance level. And then all the franchises adjust to that.”
Case in point: After suggestions from GMs, the league last week increased its active roster on Game Day by two players – with the idea that it could provide depth in the event of injuries at one position, and, in turn, improve the quality of play.
But that’s not all. Johnston had to like what happened to the Commanders Sunday night, too. They hung the season’s first defeat on the Birmingham Iron, 12-11, to even their record at 2-2.
So that’s good. But what’s not?
“Overall,” said Johnston, “the hardest thing through this whole process is saying goodbye. I’m still not comfortable with it. It’s as emotional for me as it is for the player because I know this one is different.
“In the NFL when you have your cutdowns and things didn’t work out for whatever reason – timing, circumstance – there’s probably going to be another opportunity. For the guys with us down here, a lot of times that’s it.
“They’ve tried it enough times where we were able to convince them … or people around them were able to convince the player … that ‘hey, give it one more shot.’ I think sometimes when we’re having those conversations, I have that realization that this is that one last shot … and it didn’t work out.
“Those have been really hard conversations, and I’m still searching for the right way to do it. I don’t think I’m ever going to find that, and that’s something that I’m going to have to come to terms with.”
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