High finance wasn’t for Jeff Scott. But the Eagles’ new vice president of football operations is all business.

by | Jul 5, 2024 | ALLFFP, Fredericksburg, Sports

Eric Schaffer needed an intern.

As vice president of football operations for the Washington NFL franchise in 2012, Schaffer was seeking someone who could assist the team’s shorthanded front office with salary cap issues. 

So Schaffer turned to friend Allen Hermeling, a professor at Georgetown University teaching sports management to graduate students. Hermeling immediately thought of Fredericksburg native Jeff Scott, a former James Monroe High School standout quarterback and Davidson University defensive back who previously worked in finance at Bank of America after graduating college. 

“I said, ‘I need someone really sharp, really smart, to be an intern,” Schaffer recalled. “I said, ‘Do you have anybody?’ and he thought of Jeff. He definitely exceeded my expectations because he’s really smart and he’s got a great business mind.” 

Two of Scott’s closest friends and mentors who worked with him in Washington — Schaffer and Indianapolis Colts chief personnel executive Morocco Brown — said Scott’s football and business acumen gives him a rare combination of skills that will help him quickly ascend the ranks of an NFL front office. 

After nine years in Washington and the past three in Philadelphia, Scott was promoted to the Eagles’ vice president of football operations last month. Schaffer said he is not astounded by Scott’s success, and that the only surprise is that he’s not yet a general manager. 

“He really has a unique combination,” said Schaffer, who is now the executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Joe Gibbs Racing. “Typically, in sports you’re one or the other — you’ve got that scouting background or you’ve got that analytical business mind. He’s got them both.” 

Molded by pioneers

Schaffer and Brown also said Scott has a gregarious personality that makes him immediately likable and endears him to NFL executives, agents and others affiliated with the league. 

Scott credits his leadership traits to his upbringing in Fredericksburg. His father was Judge John W. Scott Jr., the first Black judge in the Fredericksburg area and a civil rights pioneer who died in 2008 at age 59.  

His mother, Alda White, was Stafford County’s first female county attorney and the first Black full-time county attorney in Virginia, serving 20 years in the role. 

“I was in those [leadership] spaces and I was in those spaces young,” Scott said. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say I learned that at home … I had a leadership model for me every day. There was nothing else to see.” 

Jeff Scott (second from left) started at quarterback for James Monroe High School for three and a half years. Scott is now the vice president of football operations for the Philadelphia Eagles (photo courtesy of Jeff Scott).

Scott said he consciously picked up traits from his mother and his father.  However, he was determined to chart his own career path. He said the greatest lesson from his parents was, “Don’t ever take your eye off the goal.” 

“It’s never about individual accomplishments,” Scott said. “It’s always about ‘What is the final goal?’” 

That mindset came in handy when Scott was called up from the James Monroe junior varsity midway through his freshman year and tapped to become the starting quarterback. 

The Yellow Jackets were struggling through a winless season when Scott stepped in. No victories were produced but Scott gained valuable experience as he helped lead JM to 24 wins in the next three seasons — including an undefeated regular season his senior year. 

Head coach Rich Serbay said he knew from Scott’s first start that he would develop into a special player and leader.  In 2011, Scott returned to JM to work under Serbay as an assistant coach.

“He had absolutely great work habits,” Serbay said. “He was a master of the details. He studied his plays, and he was a heck of a quarterback … We were rebuilding and we took our lumps the first two years, but he absolutely helped us through it. He did a heck of a job for us.” 

Jeff Scott (middle) worked as an assistant coach at his alma mater, James Monroe, in 2011. Scott is now the vice president of football operations for the Philadelphia Eagles (photo courtesy of Jeff Scott).

Scott went on to Davidson University in North Carolina, where his time playing quarterback was short-lived. Instead, he switched to defensive back and led the Pioneer League in forced fumbles as a sophomore in 2005. 

Scott said a back injury later in his career forced him to sit and become even more of a student of the game. He worked closely with defensive coordinator Meade Clendaniel while he was sidelined. 

“My football knowledge, I really owe to my time there,” Scott said. “It was truly that time of learning how to look at the game as a coach and how to break things down differently that was the impetus to push me in the direction I am now.” 

‘The ultimate administrator’

Corporate America had its own unique playbook. Scott entered the financial field in 2008 at the start of a recession and housing crisis in the nation.  

“It taught me so many lessons — the harsh realities of the working world, how to have tough conversations, how to manage certain situations,” Scott said. “But ultimately it wasn’t for me.” 

Scott knew he wanted to work in sports, so he enrolled in the sports management master’s program at Georgetown, where he also met his future wife. 

After Professor Hermeling recommended Scott to Schaffer, his tenure at Washington began. He worked relentlessly as a salary cap intern, but always made sure he trekked down the hallways of the team headquarters in Ashburn to make his face known within the organization. 

It was on such a tour that he came across Brown, Washington’s director of pro personnel at the time. Brown said although Scott was hired as a salary cap intern in 2012, opportunities abounded. 

“We were in a position where we were understaffed, and everybody had to be multiple in the job that they were doing,” Brown said. “As an intern, you start out doing some of the lower-level stuff, but very quickly we saw that he could handle a lot. He has a gift for problem solving and versatility. He can do a lot at an extremely high level, which I think is rare.” 

Brown said he picked up quickly that Scott’s football background helped him become an “expert” in scouting and finding players. He was also capable of being a video director in addition to his expertise with the salary cap and other skills. 

“Jeff is a strategic thinker,” Brown said. “There is not much he can’t do.” 

In Scott’s original role, he assisted with cap analysis and contracts before he became a scouting intern. He worked as a player personnel assistant in 2013, and then became a pro scout the following year, working in that role until 2017. He assisted Schaffer with contract negotiations, strategic planning, management council compliance and salary cap management. He also directed research and strategic efforts and provided analysis on special projects for the player personnel department and coaching staff. 

“He was learning the salary cap and negotiations and all those kinds of things, which really fit him well,” Schaffer said. “He was a huge value to me even as an intern.” 

Scott was promoted to director of football strategy/scout in 2018, preparing weekly analysis for the advanced scouting of opponents. He also evaluated players for free agency and the draft. He was hired as Washington’s assistant director of pro scouting/advance coordinator in 2020, overseeing the weekly advance scouting of opponents. He was also responsible for evaluating and writing player reports on free agents and other professional leagues and evaluating potential trade scenarios during the draft. 

Brown noted that during the pandemic in 2020, Scott visited staff members’ homes with a draft board he helped develop. 

“Usually, you don’t find someone who is as great of a scout as he is and knows the analytics like the back of his hand, understands the salary cap, and the player development stuff,” Brown said. “I think with the Eagles, he is just kind of like the ultimate administrator. You could see that early on, and I think that’s going to propel him to the top of the ladder.” 

‘He’s a unifier’

Scott was hired by the Eagles in 2021 as a senior pro scout. Philadelphia reached the postseason all three years Scott has been on the staff, including a run to the Super Bowl, where they fell to the Kansas City Chiefs to end the 2022 season.  

Scott said his time in Washington was beneficial to his career, noting that the coaching staff from the same timeframe produced several future head coaches and other front-office personnel who are still excelling in the league. 

“There were a lot of good people in that building, and I think that’s evidenced by the success that’s happening now in the NFL,” Scott said. “There were a lot of tempos that were set and knowledge that was gained there. It just didn’t translate on the field, but there were a lot of good people in that organization.” 

Scott quickly earned a promotion in Philadelphia. He went from senior pro scout to director of football operations during the 2022 offseason before being elevated to his current role.  

First and foremost as the vice president of football operations, Scott serves as a talent evaluator. He assesses the Eagles’ roster when it is time to make cuts and also examines potential free agents and draft targets. He said he is a strategist and advisor who assists with roster management, planning, personnel protocols and player development.

“I try to focus on things with a big-picture view,” he said. 

Scott said Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman gives him the flexibility to work in several different areas, and that allows him insight into many facets of the organization. Scott also works closely with Head of Football Development Connor Barwin to structure a player-development program. 

“It is an awesome program in which we truly try to improve our players and develop them,” Scott said. “Too many times there are situations where players are lost in NFL buildings, and we try to ensure that never happens.” 

Scott, who lives in south Philadelphia with his wife of nine years, Rachel, and 6-year-old daughter, Alivia, puts in long hours. He said he eats all three meals a day at work eight months out of the year. He said it helps to have support from his wife, a former University of Maryland volleyball player who recently started a volleyball program at Episcopal Academy outside of Philadelphia. 

A heavier workload could be on deck for Scott if he continues his rise. He said his long-term goal is to become a general manager, but he is focused on continuing to grow in his new role and helping the Eagles win a championship because “you can’t get to the next level without being good where you are.” 

Brown said Scott’s character and ability to bring people together in difficult situations will serve him well throughout his career. 

“I think what will walk him into that space of being a general manager is a skill that I don’t know how you develop it, but he has it, and that’s being likable,” Brown said. “I think he understands people. He knows how to connect with people. He’s a unifier and I think that’s the No. 1 trait a leader must have.” 

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