It was a long, twisting road that led Ed McGuire from the ball fields of Riverhead High School to a high position as a National Football League executive. That really should not come as a surprise, though. As McGuire pointed out, there really is no blueprint for the career path he has taken.
McGuire, who was born and raised in Riverhead, has risen through the ranks of various football offices and is currently the assistant general manager and executive vice president of football operations for the San Diego Chargers. This is McGuire’s 13th year with the Chargers. In 2007 he was promoted to executive vice president of football operations, and in 2008 he became assistant general manager.
His position entails great responsibility. McGuire oversees player contract negotiations as well as the day-to-day business and administrative operations of the scouting department, coaching department, equipment and video departments, training staff and strength and conditioning staff.
Probably his most visible work is in the area of player contract negotiations, which McGuire said is more art than science. In what was at the time the largest contract ever signed by a running back in NFL history, McGuire negotiated an eight-year contract extension for 2006 league Most Valuable Player and two-time NFL rushing champion LaDainian Tomlinson in 2004. In 2009, McGuire worked out the largest player contract in team history, a six-year, $92 million contract extension for quarterback Philip Rivers.
“Every day is a new adventure,” McGuire told The Riverhead News-Review in a recent interview. “You get to live and die with the team.”
When McGuire was a youngster, he knew he wanted to be involved in sports. At Riverhead High School, he was a wide receiver for the football team and a middle infielder for the baseball team before graduating in 1980.
McGuire’s desire to be involved in sports brought him to St. John’s University, where he graduated with a degree in athletic administration.
While at St. John’s, McGuire worked as a marketing intern for the United States Football League. After the USFL folded, McGuire followed his boss, Peter Ruocco, into the NFL office, working in the player personnel department in 1987. Following several years in the NFL office, McGuire tried his fortune at selling life insurance and mutual funds. But McGuire found he couldn’t shake the football bug and became involved in NFL Europe. Following one season of that, he was back in the NFL office.
With a new collective bargaining agreement in 1993, NFL teams had to operate within the confines of salary caps. “Every team realized that they needed a person to know the salary cap inside and out,” said McGuire, who was ideally positioned to learn the new system. He became a leading expert, a so-called capologist.
While the salary cap sounds like complicated stuff, McGuire said, “Once you know it, like anything else, you know it.”
Since the NFL player lockout ended, things have undoubtedly gotten busier for McGuire, but he wouldn’t complain. He said he is fortunate to do work that he enjoys.
“I never go to a job,” he said. “I go to do something that I love to do.”