Canadian Football League

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Life on the road for former Canadian Football League assistant general manager.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Dan Rambo, the Broncos' Ottawa-based scout who canvasses the Northeast, spends 150 days per year on the road assessing and evaluating talent.
Sounds like a lot of time away from the family, right? Perhaps, if you view the proverbial glass as half-empty. Rambo, a full-time scout for the Broncos since 1998, refuses to view it that way.
"One-hundred fifty days, and that's light. I know (fellow Broncos scout) Greg Miller spends more time than that and a lot of guys spend more than that," Rambo said. "But the other side of it is that I'm home 200 days a year -- and I'm at home. I'm not in an office."
There was a time that he was. Rambo spent over a decade in the Canadian Football League, spending most of those years with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in different capacities, including director of scouting, director of player personnel and assistant general manager.
Rambo's career in the administrative side of football began in 1983, following several years in which he tried out with eight different teams in three professional leagues. While Rambo's career didn't happen by design, it wasn't by accident, either.
"Timing was everything," Rambo said.
If you ask Rambo about the best player he's seen, he can't answer that. "Finding" a player isn't a matter of individual discovery; it's the product of joint evaluation, a system of checks and cross-checks that allows every player to be evaluated four, even five times by Broncos officials.
"I'm in such the mode of team effort in discovering players," Rambo said. "That is not something that's in my mind. I see that as a little self-appreciating."
"I knew a guy in my last tryout with the Raiders who ended up in Canada. In 1983, four years had gone by (since the tryout in Oakland) and he ended up as general manager in Saskatchewan.
"I wasn't even thinking about (working in football), to be honest with you," Rambo continued. "I think once I went up there to look over the facilities, he promised to help me along with the things I didn't know -- which was just about everything."
A decade of work in the CFL -- including one year as the Ottawa Rough Riders' general manager -- led to his first crack with the Broncos in 1993.
"I came down to do part-time work for the Broncos," Rambo said. "(General Manager) Ted (Sundquist) was here then."
After that year, Rambo returned to Saskatchewan for four years. Then, the Broncos came calling again in 1998 -- with a different administration and something more permanent.
"I think everybody had pretty much moved on except Ted and I think I was kind of looking at other things too in the CFL again," Rambo said. "I really liked it up there, but it was timing. You kind of get an itch every once in a while."
Working for the Broncos scratched it. Within one year he collected a Super Bowl ring as the Broncos won Super Bowl XXXIII.
This year marks Rambo's 23rd in professional-football personnel work. But his growth continues.
"You're always learning in this business," Rambo said. "The more people you get around, the more that you realize you don't know and have more to learn. I think when you stop learning it's time to get out."
One thing Rambo did learn was how much easier he has it than his scouting brethren in basketball, baseball and hockey.
"Football is a finite business; there's only so many places (that you can find players)," Rambo said. "It's not like hockey where you're looking at every corner of the world and looking at them when they're 15 (years old) ... it's a much more finite business than the other sports.
It's a rough life on the road for the Broncos' scouts. But it's essential to building a competitive football team, as the team's scouting staff are the club's eyes and ears in breaking down personnel from coast to coast -- and beyond. Over the next few weeks, we'll spotlight different members of the Broncos' scouting staff, as their year-round work takes center stage in the weeks leading up to the 2005 NFL Draft.
"It usually can be quantified and i think over the years I've come to respect other people's opinions -- other scouts."
And over the years, he's learned how to function away from home -- and under unusual circumstances. Once last fall, that meant watching tape at Akron University in the morning, driving 354 miles to Blacksburg, Va. and watching tape of Virginia Tech's prospects in the late afternoon and early evening.
Then, the next day, he was northbound, 103 miles up Interstate 81 and 32 across Interstate 64 to the University of Virginia. And every such trip means getting to the schools at the right times to watch practices and game tape.
"It gets convoluted sometimes," Rambo admits. "But the best thing is -- the more you do this, the more people you know who can help you out."
And never did he learn that more than on a visit to Boston College. He awoke in his hotel room to the news that his car had been broken into overnight. As police filed their report, Rambo flagged down a taxicab and rode to the campus in suburban Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Rambo watched tape. BC officials helped him find a shop that could repair the broken glass in his car. By the end of the day, the car was repaired and he'd taken care of everything he needed to accomplish in his scout's duties.
"It was just a normal day," he continued. "You just get the job done. It may not be the way you wanted it, but you just go with the flow."
Such is life for Rambo, be it on the road or at home.


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