There is a lot less gray hair in NFL scouting departments today than there was 10 years ago, and it's not because the league added Just For Men to its endless list of official sponsors.
The NFL has become like every other business in this country. Old is out; young is in. If you are an NFL scout over 50 these days, you might want to watch your back.
The Eagles' personnel department is a perfect example of a leaguewide trend. Kids, kids and more kids. General manager Howie Roseman is 36. College scouting director Anthony Patch is 34. Their six college scouts range in age from 25 to 35. Everything they learned about Watergate came from their junior high history books.
That doesn't mean there still isn't a place for geezers, though. Especially geezers who can judge football flesh as well as Tom Donahoe.
Donahoe, 65, a former front-office chief with both the Steelers and the Bills, was hired this week by the Eagles as a senior football adviser. He will replace Phil Savage, who left to become executive director of the Senior Bowl.
"It's exciting to be in a position where maybe I can help some young scouts," Donahoe said. "I know they have a lot of young scouts in their personnel department. It might give me an opportunity to contribute to their growth and development. Maybe they can benefit from all of the stupid things I've done."
Donahoe was the Steelers' director of football operations from 1991 to 1999 before losing a power struggle with then-head coach Bill Cowher. During his time in that job, the Steelers drafted 12 players who went to 31 Pro Bowls. They won five division titles and made one Super Bowl appearance.
Things didn't go nearly as well for Donahoe in Buffalo. The Bills had only one winning season during his five seasons (2001-05).
Since then, he has worked for ESPN and has been an unpaid consultant and speaker for the National Collegiate Scouting Association, which helps high school athletes and their parents with the recruiting process.
"I've been doing a bunch of things, but I really wanted to spend more time with my family," he said. "Because I found out when I was in this that it's 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your family situation really suffers. I wanted time when my kids were still growing up to be more actively involved in what they're doing."
Donahoe has a son, Matthew, who just graduated from Allegheny College, and a daughter, Kaitlin, who will be a senior at Bowdoin. "They're both just about done," said Donahoe, who lives just outside Pittsburgh. "I'm tired of watching the Pirates strike out. Time to get back to work.
"I've always enjoyed scouting. I enjoy the process of evaluating players. It's going to be fun getting back to doing that. Hopefully, I can contribute and help make the Eagles better."
Roseman said he had talked to Donahoe for the last 6 months or so. After Savage left, he called Donahoe and asked whether he'd be interested in joining the organization.
"When Phil left, we thought it was a natural position for him," Roseman said.
"A good fit, right time," Roseman said. "Tom really wanted to be part of a team environment again."
Donahoe said he's not sure yet what exactly he'll be doing for the team.
"We've just talked in generalities," he said. "I'm sure in the next couple of months, Howie and I will spend some more time together and figure it out. But I told him that I'm really comfortable doing whatever he and coach [Andy] Reid feel I can do to help. I'm willing to do anything."
Donahoe said the Eagles organization reminds him a lot of the Steelers'.
"They're a well-run organization," he said. "They have a plan, and they're very good at implementing that plan. You've seen a good example of that this offseason. They had some challenging things to do, and had a plan to get them done and executed that plan. It looks, at least on paper, that they had a very good draft. They addressed some areas that needed to be addressed."
Vick: To run or not to run
The Eagles don't want Michael Vick to get hurt this season, but they also aren't inclined to forbid him from taking off and running when an opportunity presents itself.
"It's tough," quarterbacks coach Doug Pederson said. "He gets so many positive yards for us [running]. We're not going to take that away from him. You don't really want to take away that natural ability he has to run."
Donovan McNabb used to cringe anytime somebody referred to him as a running quarterback. Vick, on the other hand, embraces the term. He's proud of his make-you-miss elusiveness, proud of the fact he's rushed for more yards (5,219) than any quarterback in history.
The trouble with having the kind of getaway speed that Vick has, though, is you often rely on it too much, taking off before you go through all of your progressions, taking off even when your protection still is good. You saw that a lot from Vick last season, particularly before he developed trust in his offensive line.
"It's hard, because he knows he's faster than pretty much everybody on the field," Pederson said. "It's a fine line. You don't ever want to take away a guy's God-given talent, his ability to run. Can we channel it in areas and ways so that he doesn't have to do that all of the time? Yeah, you can. And you can teach that.
"A lot of that comes with [Vick] understanding our system and understanding his progressions. As he grows in our offense and knows where guys are on the field and knows where our tight ends and running backs are, that will help. That's also part of his ability to run and keep his eyes downfield. He's done a great job out of the pocket throwing the football."
It should be noted that Vick had only 11 rushing attempts in his last four starts last season, compared with 65 in his first nine. His 5.8 carries-per-game average in 2011 was his lowest since his rookie season.
From the Lip
* "My feelings weren't hurt. I saw the road changing during the season last year. I kind of started seeing that, maybe this can't go on for too long. So when the move came, I was OK with it." - Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans on his trade from Houston
* "There probably will be a lot of fines in 2013. A lot of guys won't wear [them]. I don't get hit, so I don't need to worry about pads. Offensive players should wear them, because we hit them. But I don't think it should be mandatory. You play this game because you want to play this game. And the risks you take are the risks you take. If you don't want to wear hip pads, knee pads or thigh pads, you shouldn't have to." - Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer
* "The CEO of Nike recently told me when they introduced the new uniforms that NBA players were wearing more pads from the hips down than NFL players. There is something wrong with that." - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the league's decision to make the use of knee and thigh pads mandatory starting in 2013
* "I haven't done anything, really. Right now, I'm a bust, so I'm going to deal with that. I'm a bust, and I'm going to keep being a bust even when I make plays. I'm going to act like a bust, you know what I'm saying?" - Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham
* "I think the kid is a good working back, and if you've got everything else around him, he can play his role. But when it comes to outstanding, I don't see anything outstanding about him."
- Former Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown on his old team's first-round pick, Alabama running back Trent Richardson
BY THE NUMBERS
* Age clearly is only a number for placekickers. The Lions' Jason Hanson will turn 42 next month. The 49ers' David Akers is 37. Yet, last season these two old geezers combined to make 12 of 16 field goal attempts from 50-plus yards. Akers was 7-for-9, Hanson 5-for-7.
* In the first five games last season, the Eagles were gashed for 11 touchdowns in 14 opponent red-zone chances (78.6 percent). In the next 11 games, they gave up only 17 TDs in 33 challenges (51.5).
* Tight end Brent Celek had 35 receptions for first downs last season. That was only four fewer than DeSean Jackson.
* According to statistics collected by Pro Football Focus, LeSean McCoy had 49 missed tackles on his 273 rushing attempts last season. Only two running backs slipped more tackles - the Falcons' Michael Turner with 62 and the Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch with 52.