FLORHAM PARK–“Low man on the totem pole.” That’s how Aaron Glenn describes his new role as an assistant pro scout with the New York Jets. There are a few noticeable gray hairs now, but otherwise Glenn looks much the same as he did when he first joined the team in 1994 as the 12th overall pick out of Texas A&M in the NFL Draft. Over the next eight years, the 5’ 9” Glenn became a linchpin of the Jets defense, recognized as one of the NFL’s shutdown corners, earning three Pro Bowl selections along the way.
By 2001, the Jets were ready to move on and Glenn went back to his hometown of Houston, to play for the NFL’s newest addition, the Texans. He subsequently spent time with the Dallas Cowboys, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New Orleans Saints, before deciding it was time to retire in 2008.
Retirement was fun at first. After 15 years of football, which consumed the lion’s share of his time, Glenn enjoyed being home with his wife and their three children – now ages 17, 12 and 10. But, having nothing to do wasn’t exactly in his make-up.
“I missed so much time with my family I said ‘I’m going to sit back and relax and enjoy my family,’” Glenn said. But, he started getting antsy and although his wife liked having him around more, there was one little downside.
“She said I messed her routine up,” Glenn said laughing.
There was a downside for Glenn too. Football had always been his all-consuming passion and although he had retired from playing, that passion hadn’t dissipated; if anything it was stronger than ever.
Throughout the years Glenn has remained close with former head coach Bill Parcells whom he calls one of his closest friends and with whom he speaks twice a week. It was Parcells who first gave him the idea to become a scout. So, after thinking about it Glenn knew who he should speak to. After discussing it with his wife and children, who game him their blessing, he picked up the phone and called Jets general manger Mike Tannenbaum. Tannenbaum was immediately intrigued by the idea.
“It made a lot of sense,” Tannenbaum said. “In my mind he was the consummate pro, always prepared.”
Glenn subsequently flew himself to the 2012 NFL Combine where he met with Tannenbaum in person. Four months later, Glenn was back in Jets green.
Throughout his playing career Glenn was a huge proponent of film study and that encompassed more than just learning his own weekly responsibilities. “I focused on ball playing and when you focus on ball playing you focus on everything,” he said. “I knew defense like the back of my hand. I had good knowledge about quarterbacks because I studied them.”
A self-described “rookie again,” as a pro scout, Glenn spends his days evaluating players and writing reports. In his usual overachieving ways, he has churned out those reports at quadruple the pace requested and expected by assistant general manager Scott Cohen.
However, there are some areas that still need work.
“There’s understanding the tendencies,” Tannenbaum said of Glenn’s learning curve in his new role. “Defensive backs, receivers those will be very natural to him. We’ve already talked about offensive linemen. That’s something that will work out over a long time.”
Making the transition from player to scout isn’t an easy one and is still relatively uncommon. However Glenn has watched as a handful of others have done it, including Martin Mayhew. Mayhew, who played in the NFL from 1989-1996 became the general manager of the Detroit Lions in 2008.
While focused on the current task at hand, Glenn has similar aspirations for himself.
“I think everybody in the scouting department ultimately wants to become a head of player personnel or a GM and that’s definitely my aspiration,” he said.
And what is Tannenbaum’s reaction to that? “Knowing [Glenn] the way I do, when he says he’s going to do something, I’d never bet against him.”