Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Ex-Tom Brady teammate a frontrunner for Vikings GM: report

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could see more than two assistant coaches depart this offseason amid leadership-hungry NFL teams that aren’t in the playoffs.

According to a source through ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Minnesota Vikings have asked Spytek for permission to conduct an interview for his vacant position as general manager. Spytek serves as the vice president of player personnel.

Spytek has been with the Bucs since 2016, having scouted for the Denver Broncos during their Super Bowl runs in the 2010s. He notably played one college football season with Bucs quarterback Tom Brady in Michigan in 1999 before playing another three seasons for the Wolverines.

Spytek on the Vikings’ radar makes three leaders in the Bucs organization who could move to new jobs after the season. Assistant coaches Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles remain head coaching candidates for other teams.

Jacksonville requested interviews with Bowles and Leftwich in late December 2021. Chicago then asked to interview Bowles and Leftwich this week, according to Schefter.

Both assistants also appeared as head coach candidates last year.

Spytek, who works closely with Bucs general manager Jason Licht on staff relocations, knows how to encrypt plans for changing rosters.

“Operation Shoeless Joe Jackson” became – thanks to Spytek – the codename for the Bucs’ freehand pursuit of Brady in 2020, according to ESPN’s Ian O’Connor. Spytek came up with the name of the character in the movie “Field of Dreams”.

“If we build it, he’ll come,” Spytek told Light, per O’Connor. “Walk the route.”

Spytek did its part to support the build before Brady. The Bucs signed defensive end Ndaumkong Suh and linebackers Shaquil Barrett in 2019 and linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul in 2018. According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Spytek played a key role in all three signings.

“We felt like we built a good team down here, especially on offense,” Spytek told O’Connor in 2020. “If you’re a quarterback who wants to play with good players and for a coach with a great offensive spirit, why wouldn’t Tom choose Tampa? It always made sense to me. It made sense that if we built it, he would come.”

In fact, Brady did.

Spytek and his wife Kristen lost their daughter Evelyn to congenital cytomegalovirus in 2014 at the age of 21 months. The couple established the National CMV Foundation in her memory.

“When things get tough, you realize how tough her life has been. And she was forever,” Spytek told ESPN’s Jenna Laine in 2021. “Every moment she was here was tough. And that is very temporary for me.”

“You have to keep going,” added Spytek. “I remember being mad at people after we lost them, like, ‘How can you get your life back? How can you go on?’ But then we realized it’s really the only choice you have. You have to make that first conscious decision.”

He recently ran the 2021 New York City Marathon to raise awareness and funds for the foundation when the Bucs had a bye week.

He recently ran the 2021 New York City Marathon to raise awareness and funds for the foundation when the Bucs had a bye week.

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