By Matthew Tabeek
"Probably as a Falcon, one of the most fascinating and privileged ones to be a part of was the discussion of leadership and the type of leader that we needed at the quarterback position when Thomas Dimitroff came here, leading up to the drafting of Matt Ryan."
When listening to Phil Emery speak – whether it be about coaching, traveling, teaching or anything, really – it’s very easy to picture him standing in front of a classroom wearing a tweed jacket lecturing students on a college campus somewhere. He was, after all, a professor once.
Emery, who says he had a “desire” to get into coaching, is a cerebral guy with a wealth of experience and no shortage of great stories. “It started post-college, I really wanted to get into coaching,” said Emery, who graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit.
And that he did, beginning with some early career stops that included Wayne State, Central Michigan and Western New Mexico. Emery did it all, holding and performing all sorts of positions and tasks – from assistant coach, equipment manager and strength coach to recruiting and even painting the fields when necessary.
Painting fields and setting up classrooms might not seem career-enhancing, but Emery begs to differ. He said a lot of those jobs at the lower levels helped him later on. “In terms of all those organizational tasks, they really built skills that helped administratively,” he said.
Thirty-six years later, including 19 in the NFL as a scout and general manager, Emery is currently a national scout for the Atlanta Falcons. It’s actually Emery’s second stint with the Falcons, after serving as the team’s director of scouting from 2004 to 2008.
In 2009, Emery was named the director of college scouting for the Kansas City Chiefs. From 2012 to 2014, Emery was the general manager of the Chicago Bears. After a “one-year sabbatical” as Emery puts it, he returned to Atlanta as a national scout in 2016.