Colts don’t hire Alouettes’ GM Jim Popp, but his stay in Montreal isn’t certain

Montreal fans can exhale for the moment, as general manager Jim Popp was not selected for the Indianapolis Colts' GM job (which went to former CFL offensive lineman and current Philadelphia Eagles' director of player personnel Ryan Grigson, interestingly enough) despite being publicly short-listed by Colts' owner Jim Irsay. However, while not being selected as the Colts' GM definitely improves the chances that Popp will still be in Montreal both this season and through his contract's expiration in 2014, it doesn't make that a sure thing. Although Popp wasn't chosen for the Colts' GM job, merely being short-listed may increase his profile south of the border and raise the number of teams willing to consider him.

Of course, CFL GM to NFL GM isn't a typical career path. Most NFL general managers are hired from the ranks of candidates like Grigson who have been assistant general managers, directors of player personnel or something similar. Picking a guy who's spent most of his professional career in the CFL would be an unconventional leap, despite the tremendous success Popp has had. Even an 213-110-1 regular-season record over 18 seasons, plus a record of never missing the playoffs and claiming eight divisional titles and four Grey Cups isn't necessarily enough to get a CFL general manager a job running an NFL team.

Some executives have made the jump in the past, most notably Bud Grant (who went from coaching the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to coaching the Minnesota Vikings in the 1960s), Bob Ackles (who went from being the B.C. Lions' general manager in the 1980s to key player personnel roles with the Dallas Cowboys, Phoenix Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins), Bill Polian (Grigson's predecessor in Indianapolis, who ran the Bombers and Alouettes for a while in the 1980s), Marv Levy (who coached the Alouettes in the 1970s before heading to the NFL as a head coach in Kansas City and Buffalo) and Thomas Dimitroff (who went from a scouting role with Saskatchewan in 1991 to several NFL scouting and personnel jobs before taking his current role as the general manager of the Atlanta Falcons), but the list of those who have gone from the CFL to the NFL is far slimmer on the coach and executive side than it is with players. The NFL may be picking up more and more Canadian players and more and more Americans who played in the CFL, but that hasn't translated to the management ranks yet.

However, Popp's tremendous record of talent evaluation and finding obscure players who can become stars certainly speaks well for him, and he may not be overlooked forever. Landing an NFL GM's job straight from the CFL is still reasonably unlikely, but it's easy to envision one or more NFL teams offering him an assistant GM or player personnel job over the next few years. Whether Popp would be willing to give up running a team to be an assistant is a worthwhile question, but when you consider that the money's likely at least similar and that an NFL assistant's gig could eventually translate into a NFL GM gig, he'd probably at least give an NFL offer serious consideration. Alouettes' fans can breathe a sigh of relief that their team's architect wasn't chosen for the Colts' job, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be in Montreal forever.