Ed Hervey was named general manager of the Edmonton Eskimos on Dec. 10. In four brief months, he’s made numerous changes to the roster and has tried to instil a different attitude within the organization.
I sat down with Hervey on Saturday to get his thoughts about his job with the Canadian Football League team.
Gregor: Has there been any surprises for you since taking over as Eskimos GM?
Hervey: It has been everything I expected it to be, except there are a bit more administrative tasks to deal with than I anticipated. Everyone’s budget essentially passes through my desk, but we have a great staff that has helped ease the transition.
Gregor: Have you received calls from former teammates and contacts looking for a job with the Eskimos?
Hervey: There have been a handful of guys who have called, but I’ve always told them there is not going to be anything this year. We might revisit it at the end of the season, but for now everything is good. There is one guy I have talked to and potentially we are going look at something in the future. However, this first year I wanted to keep everything status quo.
We’ve had a lot of people just come out of nowhere the last few years. For this season, I wanted our football operations and our football team to see the same people every day. I didn’t want new people coming into the fold right away.
Gregor: What have you learned so far regarding how other GMs work when discussing trades?
Hervey: Everyone is different. Their styles are different and everyone values their commodities and players different than you would value them. You have to find that balance between not over-valuing what you are offering and under-valuing what you are asking for. When I go through the process I’m a straight shooter. I say this is what I want, and I’m not here to negotiate on different players.
For instance, when it came to Hamilton I wanted Carson Rockhill and Nathan Kanya. They (Tiger-Cats) wanted Greg Wojt and there were a couple other guys on the table that they wanted. We settled on Simoni Lawrence and Jeromiah Masoli, and I think both sides got what they wanted.
In the case of Wally (B.C. Lions GM Buono), it was just a simple case of picking up the phone and asking him for permission to talk to Mike Reilly. I said name the price and we will go from there. I thought about it for a day and realized it was worth it to swap spots in the draft.
Then I threw out the second-round pick on the condition that Reilly’s rights weren’t going to be shopped and we could make a deal right then when we were on the phone. Wally has been around the business a long time, and he’s an honourable GM and he agreed to the deal and then we were able to talk to Reilly.
We knew going into this season that we needed to address the quarterback position. We were going to pursue Reilly, so why should we have to wait until free agency to do something that we already planned to do. I felt it would be best to be proactive rather than wait until free agency when others could be involved and make it a bidding war.
Gregor: How do you plan on honing your craft as GM?
Hervey: You make sure you stay sharp. You make sure that you are well-rounded and understand that as the head of a department you have to respect the people you work with, be open-minded and be a good communicator.
When I was a scout, you were on the road doing your thing. You send your report in and then come back and you do an analysis of the player. Everyone and everything around you is on the periphery.
As a GM, everything is essentially part of the responsibility of ensuring everything flows well on a day-to-day basis. The other thing you have to do is making sure you are tracking and understanding the talent of the other teams.
You have to dole out responsibilities and trust the people that surround you with the information that they give you. Some people will call it delegating, but I see it as a shared responsibility that the overall dynamics of our football operations is running smoothly.
Gregor: Have you found the balance between which responsibilities to share/delegate with others to which jobs you focus on?
Hervey: Here is where the balance starts and ends. Regardless of who is recommending the players, I still plan on seeing every player on tape. Paul Jones (executive director of player personnel) has been around a long time and I trust Paul, but I still want to see the players and have an opportunity to see them, even though I know Paul has supplied us with many all-pros and great players over the years.
In the case of Rob Ralph (Canadian scout), he has done an excellent job. He’s a young scout and he’s going to be really good, but I monitor him a bit more. For me, in this business you have to trust his game slowly and it is based on production. His resume isn’t quite as extensive as Paul’s, but the work he has done thus far has shown me he is on the right path.
Gregor: With your new schedule and responsibilities, do you still find time to go mall walking?
Hervey: I was mall walking today in fact, (laughs). I walk around (West Edmonton Mall) for about 45 minutes and it is usually the same path. I stop in the Guess store or Buffalo and I price out jeans. Usually, I price check from one mall to the other and it takes me about a month to buy jeans because I’m always looking for the best deal. (he laughs again).
Gregor: Is mall walking your time to get away from football, so you aren’t thinking football 24 hours a day?
Hervey: I have my head set on and generally there will be some Beatles playing and that allows me to flow through the mall without any interruptions. I don’t mind having my mind on football all the time.
I don’t believe I’m going to burn out because I love the game so much, and because there is so much work to be done with the Eskimos. We need to re-establish what we are doing on the field, but also our culture. I took this responsibility with the intent to put every bit of energy that I have into it.
My opinion is that people burn out when they don’t truly love what they are doing. I love football, I love the game and I love the challenge that is ahead of us. I don’t sleep a lot anyways, because I’m always reading bios, charts and things.
I want fans to be proud of what this organization is about and we need to give them something to cheer about. If I’m taking four or five hours out of the day to not think about football, then I’m not doing what I was hired to do.
You can listen to Gregor weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on the TEAM 1260, read him at oilersnation.com and follow him @jasongregor on twitter.
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