Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort and Arizona Wildcats football head coach Jedd Fisch go back over 20 years.
The duo first met ahead of the Houston Texans’ inaugural season in 2002 when Ossenfort was a pro personnel intern and Fisch was a defensive quality control coach.
And even though they would go in different career paths within football, the two remained in contact both as friends and football minds.
“He would always reach out, we would see each other at the Senior Bowl, we’d spend time together at the combine,” Fisch told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Tuesday. “If I was coaching college football, I would be able to share with him anything I knew about the athletes that we had on our team. Just always remained very, very close, good friends, really always rooted for him.
“When I saw that he was hired in Arizona, I thought that was just an awesome way to once again reconnect, open up our doors in Tucson to him and let him know that, ‘Hey, you have a home away from home, you want a Pac-12 school to hang out at, hang out here. You want games to go to, come here,’” he added. “And we want to make sure that we’re open with everybody there at the Cardinals organization.”
Both Ossenfort and Fisch also spent time in the New England Patriots organization, with the former spending a total of 15 years working his way up from personnel assistant to director of college scouting while the latter was a quarterbacks coach in 2020.
Ossenfort’s 15 years in New England came out in his introductory press conference last week when he announced that the Cardinals would be taking a we-not-me approach.
“We’re going to turn over every stone to find the right players for this team,” Ossenfort said Jan. 17. “We are not just collecting talent. We’re going to build a team. We’re going to look for the right type of players. Ego will not be tolerated in this organization. We are going to look for focused, driven … people who are going to put team first every step of the way.
“There’s one goal here: to win,” the GM added. “There’s no putting personal interests in front of the team. I was told once that the definition of mental toughness is putting the team in front of something that maybe would have been personally better for me. That to me, that’s the type of players we’re looking for.”
Monti Ossenfort on his vision for the #AZCardinals:
“We’re going to look for the right type of players. Ego will not be tolerated in this organization.”
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) January 17, 2023
Sound familiar to what we’ve heard Bill Belichick say for the last two decades-plus?
And after Fisch spent his lone year with the future Hall of Fame head coach, he instilled his own version in Tucson of “be a pro.”
“Be a professional in how you act, be a professional in what you do, be a pro in how you speak to others, be a pro in if this is your responsibility, do it,” Fisch said.
“And I think that’s what fit for us. But clearly, I’m sure Monti is going to bring in an unbelievable attention to detail on how to build a roster and really he’s gonna do a fantastic job in Arizona.”