There was an NFL general manager at the 2019 USports East-West Bowl.
But just days after Mike Maccagnan was relieved of his duties by the New York Jets.
The Hightstown, New Jersey native spent four seasons as the GM for the Jets. It was the first stint Maccagnan earned overseeing an NFL franchise after rising as a scout, which included one season each with the Ottawa Rough Riders (1993) and Saskatchewan Roughriders (1994). That time period is when Maccagnan met his Canadian wife Betty, who was born and raised in the Greater Toronto Area (Vaughn).
Maccagnan had just worked out Canadian offensive linemen Jesse Gibbon and Drew Desjarlais on Tuesday, May 14, one day before he was fired. After the 2018 NFL draft, Maccagnan signed offensive lineman Dakoda Shepley to an undrafted free agent contract. Current Ottawa Redblacks O-lineman Mark Korte accepted a rookie mini-camp invite the same year. Once training camps were completed in 2017, Maccagnan added towering lineman Geoff Gray to the Jets’ practice roster where he spent the majority of the season.
Defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd was selected in the third round, 72nd overall by Maccagnan in the 2018 NFL draft and contributed 15 tackles, one tackle for loss and five hits on quarterbacks in 16 games, five starts as a rookie. Speedy defensive back Tevaugh Campbell was signed in January. Two Canadian players currently on the Jets roster brought in by Maccagnan.
It’s clear Maccagnan felt Canadian talent could compete at the highest level of football, part of the reason he took time to take in the USports East-West Bowl – quietly – at Carleton and other appearances in recent years.
The football lifer had put a potential franchise quarterback in place by selecting Sam Darnold No. 3 overall in 2018 and appeared to have the Jets turning in a winning direction. But owner Christopher Johnson felt differently and moved on from Maccagnan.
The 2015 NFL Executive of the Year remains well-respected by CFL personnel men. Maccagnan always treated the Canadian scouts attending Jets practices respectfully.
Odds are Maccagnan earns another NFL job with his lengthy resume, but should those opportunities fail to materialize in a role that fits, the CFL background could perhaps entice the husband of a Canadian to come north of the border.