Buffalo and Kansas City will meet on Sunday to see who advances in the AFC playoffs in one of the most anticipated matchups of the postseason.
Two of their top architects are squaring off in New Jersey this week ahead of that on-field battle to see who may become the next general manager of the Giants.
Joe Schoen, assistant general manager of the Bills, was the first candidate for the job to receive a second interview. He met with Giants ownership on Tuesday at the team facility for an in-person conversation that lasted most of the day. The Giants will also hold a second interview with Kansas City’s executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles. That meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.
There may be some significance to Schoen being the first candidate the Giants met with last week when the position opened upon the retirement of Dave Gettleman as well as the first one in the door for this in-person portion of the process. Schoen, 42, is considered by many in league circles to be a polished, well-rounded executive with a background from three organizations who is ready to lead a franchise. He is also a candidate for the Bears general manager spot.
"Joe’s that guy who wants to have all the answers to the test before he goes and sits down," Bills general manager Brandon Beane said in a 2019 profile of Schoen in The Athletic. "Very few people are like that. There are so many people in this business that are just trying to get into that head coach seat, that GM seat, and maybe they’re not ready for it. I have no doubt he’s going to be ready for it. He’s a great communicator. He understands people. You’re not going to outwork him."
Schoen’s background is in personnel and scouting – he received his big break from Bill Parcells as a member of the Dolphins’ front office, a stamp of approval that will undoubtedly carry weight with the Giants – but in his current role with the Bills he also works in the analytics department, football operations and with communications. Co-owner John Mara said last week the Giants are looking for a general manager to oversee all aspects of the organization.
Poles, 36, is the youngest of the Giants’ candidates for the job. He oversees college scouting for Kansas City and works in pro personnel while assisting general manager Brett Veach with the coordination of the NFL Draft and overseeing the team's out-of-town area scouts. He has been with Kansas City since 2009.
So far they are the only known candidates to receive a callback and an in-person interview from the Giants, who held the first round of meetings with nine potential general managers virtually. Others may follow Schoen and Poles, but their participation in the process is significant in that it satisfies league rules requiring at least one minority candidate be granted a face-to-face interview. Poles is Black, so the Giants will be able to offer their job to anyone upon the completion of his interview.
By the time Buffalo and Kansas City kick off on Sunday evening, therefore, Schoen or Poles – or someone else entirely - may already be general manager of the Giants and plotting a course to have his new team playing in late-January games instead of conducting late-January interviews.