It was Bill Parcells in the late-90s, relaying a message from a friend, who first coined the phrase that has become synonymous with coaches wanting more personnel power.
You remember the line.
"If they want you to cook the dinner," Parcells said, "at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries."
It turns out, Doug Pederson is just fine being head chef at the NovaCare Complex.
Just about a day before he and his team flew to Minnesota for the week of practices and obligations leading up to Super Bowl LII, Pederson was asked in a small media session if he'd ever want to gain more personnel control. Pederson thought about the question pretty briefly.
"Right now, I kind of like the way it's going," he answered. "It's going to take you away from football. If you do more personnel, you can't coach football."
If there was ever a time for Pederson to ask for more power, it's now, fresh off a brilliant season that ended with the franchise's first-ever Super Bowl title. But there's something so simple about Pederson that just seems to work for him. He'll let Howie Roseman and the front office handle that other stuff. He's a football coach and he wants to coach football.
Anything else would just get in the way of that.
The Eagles, of course, have a history of muddling these waters. During Andy Reid's 14-year run in Philadelphia, he gained more and more personnel control. He basically became head coach and GM, which isn't all that uncommon in the NFL. Just look up a little North toward New England, where Bill Belichick runs the entire operation. But even Reid grew tired of all that power and when he went to Kansas City, he told his new owner he was looking forward to getting back to simply coaching.
And then there was the Chip Kelly fiasco. Eagles owner Jeff Lurie has basically said that he gave Kelly personnel control because he thought it was the only way to maximize Kelly and it was the only way to place all the blame at his feet when it blew up. Of course, we're paraphrasing a little here, but that's basically what happened. And did it ever blow up. Kelly the personnel man was largely to blame for Kelly the coach getting fired.
Which brings us to Pederson. It would have been laughable if a couple years ago Pederson had walked into the NovaCare Complex and told them he wanted any personnel control. Back then, he was a head coaching candidate whom the Eagles liked, but wasn't thought of very highly around the league. He had a thin resume and there had to be plenty of skeptics inside and outside of the building about his coaching ability. But now, those questions have been answered and it would no longer be laughable if Pederson marched up to Lurie and said he wanted to play a bigger role in the front office.
It just doesn't seem like he wants that.
"I wanted to coach football," Pederson said. "We hire professionals to do personnel, with our input, as coaches. I get that. The personnel department and Howie can make the final decision, and I get that, but not without having extensive conversations with us first."
Those conversations are key. Because as much as Pederson doesn't have the power, he's still involved with the power. Roseman's personnel department has done a good job of keeping Pederson and his coaching staff (specifically Jim Schwartz) involved. The word "collaboration" is a favorite of Lurie's and for good reason. It really wouldn't make much sense for a front office to go out and get players the coaching staff didn't agree with. To keep Parcells' analogy going, the guy who buys the groceries better know what his chef's specialties are. If he's an Italian cook, maybe keep the soy sauce on the shelf.
The working relationship between the front office, coaching staff and scouting staff is incredibly important for the future of the franchise. All three parts need to be on the same page and when they're not, they need to be able to dialogue about it.
"Our communication is extremely good," Pederson said. "If he has something, he comes right down to my office, or vice-versa and I go down to his. It goes back to the players, if you're not communicating even with your personnel staff and staying abreast of everything, that's when things can kind of put a little chink in your armor, but it's been great so far."
Pederson is just entering Year 3 as the Eagles' head coach and that's enough for him right now. Will it be in another five years? There's not really a way to tell. Some of his mentors — Reid, Don Shula and Mike Holmgren — all ended up wading into the waters of personnel control. But for now, that doesn't seem to be Pederson's plan.
He's happy just cooking the dinner. And he's pretty good at it too.