An Interview with Charley Casserly

Posted: January 23, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

Charley Casserly
Charley Casserly

Charley Casserly, a 24-year executive in the National Football League with the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans, is among Mason’s newest adjunct faculty members.

This spring, Casserly and Bob Baker, associate professor of recreation, health and tourism, will teach a weekly course called Sports Management Professional Seminar (SM475).

Throughout his career, Casserly was considered by many as one of the most respected general managers in the NFL. His most recent appointment as GM and senior vice president of football operations was with the expansion franchise Houston Texans from 2000 to 2006.

These days, Casserly is still a “GM,” but in a different capacity. He joined CBS Sports, where he reports breaking news on the network’s pre-game show, “The NFL Today.” He also provides weekly analysis on CBS SportsLine’s NFL highlight shows and covers the annual NFL draft.

The Mason Gazette caught up with Casserly to ask him a few questions.

What brought you to Mason?

It’s always been a goal of mine that once I wrapped things up in the NFL I would do two things: television and teaching. So about a year ago, I contacted Mason’s athletic director, Tom O’Connor. Tom then introduced me to Bob Baker in the Sports Management program, and he and I talked about doing some work together this upcoming year.

One aspect with my career in the NFL was spending a lot of time with interns. I restarted the intern program with the Redskins in ’83 and also started one in Houston. I saw a lot of young people come through, and I took an active interest in how they performed and began their careers.

So coming to a university with a Sports Management program like Mason seems like a natural fit after being involved with the intern and education process for more than 25 years. I think Mason is a terrific school, and we’re all very excited about the upcoming semester.

What teaching have you done in the past?

When I came out of college I was a high school teacher and coach. This past fall I was an adjunct professor at Georgetown [University] in the business school and taught a course on sports leadership to MBA students.

But my first job was at Cathedral High School in Springfield, Mass., where I was a counselor, coach and athletic director. At the same time I was coaching part time at Springfield College. From there I coached at a few more high schools and taught biology.

As someone who started off as an intern, what aspects from your experiences will you want to emphasize to the students?

What characteristics employers look for in applications will be a big area of focus for us. And probably the single most important thing we’ll discuss in this course will be what employers want to see out of their employees once they get on the job.

As a general manager in the NFL, could your success in selecting many promising young stars in the later rounds of the draft be attributed more to old-fashioned scouting and research, or just plain luck?

Well honestly, it requires a little bit of both. There’s an element of scouting and discovering talent. And there’s an element of luck in that they’ll be there when you pick them.

What was the single most difficult decision you had to make as a GM?

Well it was probably the last one I ever made — taking Mario Williams as the number one overall pick in Houston in the 2006 draft. It came down to three names: Vince Young, Reggie Bush and Mario Williams. The popular pick was Vince Young. The second popular pick was Reggie Bush. And nobody wanted us to take Mario Williams. But we thought it was the right decision. We did it. And I think now, after Mario’s successful season, people are starting to see why we made that decision.

Were you ever an athlete yourself?

I was a big football fan all growing up, and I played through my freshman year at Springfield College. I just wasn’t any good. So my career as a player ended rather quickly. It’s that simple. So I started coaching my sophomore year in college, and I just kept coaching from there while working toward my master’s degree in counseling from Springfield College.

When not working at CBS Sports, what do you like to do?

Go to the movies with the family. I also like to jog, and love to read. But at this point there won’t be much time to read until the end of the football season.

What are your plans for the offseason?

A family trip to Williamsburg; we always do that. We usually take a trip to Disney World in the summer. But from May 15 to June 15, I travel with various NFL teams to visit the spring practices for CBS. And then it’s back to work in August, scouting NFL training camp.

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