Ex-Tom Brady Teammate a Prime Candidate for Vikings GM: Report

Tom Brady

Getty Tom Brady's ex-college teammate and Buccaneers executive John Spytek could serve elsewhere next season.

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

The Minnesota Vikings “requested permission to interview” Spytek for its vacant general manager position according to a source via ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Spytek serves as the vice president of player personnel.

Spytek has been with the Bucs since 2016 after being a scout for the Denver Broncos during its Super Bowl runs in the 2010s. He notably played one season of college football with Bucs quarterback Tom Brady at 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 onto new jobs after the season. Assistant coaches Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles remain head coaching candidates for other teams.

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

Both assistants came up as head coaching candidates last year, too.


Spytek Aided Bucs’ Pursuit of Brady

Spytek, who works closely with Bucs general manager Jason Licht on personnel moves, knows how to code name roster move plans.

“Operation Shoeless Joe Jackson” became the code name — thanks to Spytek — for the Bucs’ 2020 pursuit of Brady in free agency 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 will come,” Spytek told Licht per O’Connor. “Go the distance.”

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

“We felt we had 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 mind, why wouldn’t Tom pick Tampa? It always made sense in my mind. It made sense that if we built it, he would come.”

Indeed, Brady did.


Spytek’s Inspiration Outside of Football: His Late Daughter

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

“When it gets hard, you realize how hard her life was. And that was her forever,” Spytek told ESPN’s Jenna Laine in 2021. “Every moment she spent here was hard. And this for me, is very temporary.”

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

He recently ran in 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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