According to a 16th century English proverb, good things come to those who wait.
Patience is a virtue for George Paton.
The 51-year-old Paton has waited patiently since this month in 2012 for what he believes to be the most desirable, available general manager job in the NFL.
By George, what took so long?
“Yes, we’ve had that conversation many times over the years,’’ Paton’s agent, Bryan Harlan, told me Wednesday afternoon from his base in Chicago. “There were a number of different reasons before that it (GM position) didn’t work out, but he’s found the right place now.’’
Paton was announced officially Wednesday morning as the Broncos’ 13th GM in the franchise’s 61-year history.
Bizarrely, Paton could have been a general manager nine years ago for a man named Stan Kroenke.
Insert your laughter here.
Kroenke owns Denver teams — the Nuggets, the Avalanche and the Rapids. He also owns the Los Angeles Rams, who were in St. Louis at the time Paton was negotiating with Kroenke, who had fired his coach and his general manager and offensive coordinator (Josh McDaniels). Paton probably would have gotten the executive post, but felt that newly hired coach Jeff Fisher was provided with full authority on major personnel and draft decisions.
Patient Paton paused and postponed his opportunity.
In 2013 he passed on a chance to become the Jets’ GM. A year later Paton turned down the Jets (again), the Bears (who he had worked for in his first job in the league) and the Dolphins (the second franchise he was employed by).
Then, from 2016-2021 the assistant general manager of the Vikings has been on the short list or as a finalist with, get this, the Titans, the Colts, the 49ers, the Browns, the Panthers, the Packers (Minnesota denied a request from Green Bay to interview Paton), the relentless Jets a third time and the Lions in the current GM search process.
And the Broncos.
That’s a dirty dozen different pro teams who were intrigued with a guy who was a walk-on in college and played pro football only in Austria and Italy.
Paton was close to agreeing on GM jobs with San Francisco in 2017 and Cleveland in 2020, but John Lynch was brought in late and chosen by 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan. Paton was fearful of owners’ interference and the layering of executives in the Browns’ organization, so he backed off.
As it is, the Denver Broncos turned out to be George’s long-awaited dream job.
He obviously has the patience of the Bible’s Job.
Harlan — whose father Bob is a former CEO of the Packers and his brother Kevin is a renowned NFL and NBA network play-by-play broadcaster — has been friends with, then representative for, Paton since they worked together when they were young with the Bears.
Harlan and Broncos’ CEO Joe Ellis settled all the details on Paton’s six-year contract. “Six years is the going number in the NFL for (new) general managers now.’’ He didn’t discuss the total amount, but NFL sources told me the deal would be in the $25 million range.
Paton will be protected financially in case of a change of ownership, although Harlan said that possibility wasn’t a protracted aspect of the discussions. Paton did ask for a meeting with potential owner-in-training Brittany Bowlen, toured the facilities at Dove Valley and was introduced to Broncos executives and employees, and saw his new office.
Paton hasn’t spoken publicly yet, but did issued a rather succinct statement, calling the Broncos “a sleeping giant.’’
The team certainly has been sleeping since the victory in Super Bowl 50. The Broncos’ collapse since is no secret. Paton is somewhat familiar with Colorado because a brother lived here, but the Vikings only played @Mile High in 2015 (a Minnesota loss). He remembers when Tim Tebow won in Minneapolis in one of his remarkable comebacks.
“George knows that the Broncos have the resources behind the team, a lot of special young talent, a great tradition and one of the best fan bases in the NFL,’’ Harlan said.
Even though Harland didn’t acknowledge it, Paton indeed will possess the power as GM on personnel decisions, the draft, free agency, salary cap and, yes, the quarterback.
Paton considers Elway’s presence a positive, not a concern, and the situation for a rebuild in Denver is ideal and achievable, "although,’’ Harlan said, "he realizes the Broncos play in a very tough division and have four games a year against Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.
“It won’t be easy, but nobody will outwork George. He is a workaholic, a grinder and a great evaluator of talent. He has an incredible work ethic.
“He’ll be a hybrid general manager. He’s from the old school of scouting like (Hall of Famers) Ron Wolf (former general manager of the Packers) and George Young (a five-time GM of the year with the Giants), but, at 51, he is absorbed in the analytical approach to football. The Vikings are in the top three in the league in analytics. He’s as smart as can be and broke down the salary cap for the Vikings.’’
Harlan said Paton prefers to accentuate adding outstanding players through the draft more so than with veteran free agency, and “he’s not afraid to make strong, bold moves. Fans in Denver will like his willingness to make difficult decisions.’’
Paton is not ready to address the Drew Lock Matter, but the Vikings have been undaunted in changing quarterbacks — from Brett Favre to Teddy Bridgewater to Sam Bradford to Case Keenum to Kirk Cousins.
The Broncos are accustomed to changing quarterbacks.
Abraham Lincoln said: “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.’’
George Paton must become more impatient, considering the mood in Colorado, and hustle in order to have good things come to the Broncos.