The most popular guy on a football team is the backup quarterback. The most popular guy in Green Bay might be director of football operations, Eliot Wolf.
Wolf will reportedly interview for the San Francisco 49ers’ general-manager job sometime in the near future. This much we know for sure. Beyond that, it’s hard to say anything specific about Wolf, his track record, or his unwieldy title.
I don’t know if Wolf is going to be the general manager for the 49ers next year or take over for Ted Thompson sometime in the future, but it does get frustrating to see hand-wringing over a guy who’s completely anonymous for about 350 days a year.
So here, in a brief history, is an attempt to encapsulate some of what we know about Mr. Wolf, who could be the next general manager of the 49ers, the Packers, or about 25 other NFL teams.
Wolf, of course, is the son of Ron Wolf, the esteemed former general manager of the Packers who brought Mike Holmgren, Brett Favre, and Reggie White to Green Bay. The elder Wolf needs no further discussion, other than to note that he introduced his son to the player personnel game when he was just ten years old. Eliot Wolf was in attendance for the Packers’ 1993 draft, popping into the war room just before the team selected George Teague.
Wolf wrote out a career plan when he was in fifth grade, saying he wanted to be an NFL scout. Not long after that, he turned in his first scouting report. He identified defensive back Chad Scott as a potential first-round pick. Pittsburgh drafted Scott with the 24th overall pick.
Not quite a decade later, Wolf joined the Packers as a personnel intern. He was 22. Since then, it’s been a steady climb up the ranks, climbing from pro personnel assistant to assistant director of pro personnel to assistant director of player personnel to director of pro personnel to finally being named director of player personnel in 2015.
Amidst his rise, Wolf was credited with identifying a few gems for the Packers, both through the draft and as free agents. He spotted Erik Walden toiling away for the Dolphins and helped Green Bay snatch him up when they needed linebacker help. Walden was never spectacular, but played a key role for the Packers during their run to Super Bowl XLV.
Wolf also helped the Packers track down Tramon Williams, an integral part of the Packers’ 2010 Super Bowl run.
During his climb up the Packers org chart, interview requests began to roll in. In 2011, the Philadelphia Eagles expressed interest in Wolf, but a promotion kept him in Green Bay. The next offseason, when Reggie McKenzie jumped to Oakland, Wolf was thought to be a candidate to come along, but that, too, went by the wayside.
The most serious suitor for Wolf appears to have been the Detroit Lions last year. Wolf was denied permission to interview for the job, which was later said to be his job to lose. That Wolf could not even interview for the job may have rubbed him (or someone close to him) the wrong way, but a promotion to Director - Football Operations kept him rising up the ladder.
Now, though, Wolf is likely as high as he can go. Unless Ted Thompson retires, there will not be a second Wolf running the show for the Packers for some time. Enter the 49ers, who were first rumored to be interested in Wolf in mid-December.
That’s where we stand as of today. Wolf appears to be a talented personnel evaluator from all accounts, but as fans, there’s little to go on beyond what other people have said. Losing him to the 49ers would, of course, not be ideal, but I also think it’s a bit misguided to set Wolf up as some sort of potential better alternative to Ted Thompson. We just don’t know enough about him.
I do know this, though: he got married last year, and some of the stuff on his registry still hasn’t been purchased. Buy the happy couple a vacuum already.