“A True Pioneer”

September 1st, 2023

BILL CURRIE FORD IS OPEN DAILY! Shop now online and don’t forget to request the Ira Kaufman Discount. Nationwide lifetime warranty on new vehicles.


If NFL scouting is an art form, Gil Brandt was Picasso and Rembrandt rolled into one.

Brandt passed away Thursday at the age of 91, leaving behind a trail of current league executives he mentored, Along with Tom Landry and Tex Schramm, he built the Dallas dynasty that included a startling run of 20 consecutive winning seasons.

More than 20 years ago, he took a liking to a young New England scout and showed him the personnel ropes. Introduced by Bill Belichick, Brandt and Jason Licht developed a strong bond.

Bucs GM Jason Licht weighs in on the passing of his legendary friend and colleague.

“Since I heard the news about Gil, I’ve had a heavy heart,” Licht said. “From the use of computers, scouting reports and the way you grade, he was a true pioneer. All teams are doing things the way they’re doing them because of Gil Brandt.”

Brandt started out as a photographer, specializing in new-born babies. Once he joined the Cowboys in their inaugural 1960 season, he excelled at crafting portraits of college prospects. As VP of personnel, he remembered everything he was ever told about potential draft picks.

Unlike his peers, Brandt’s focus extended far beyond mere physical measurements.

“He’s a legend in so many ways,” Licht said. “He truly, truly loved the game. There’s a reason he’s in the Cowboys Ring of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He had the most unbelievable photographic memory. He could recall every small detail about everybody he ever met.”

For 29 years, Brandt helped America’s Team acquire talent. The Cowboys knew no boundaries — scouting small schools and international talent as Brandt broke down barriers in search of difference-makers.

His tenure in Dallas ended when Jerry Jones purchased the franchise in 1989 and promptly fired Landry, Schramm and Brandt, who wasn’t even offered the courtesy of a farewell handshake.

Gil Brandt seen on his former SiriusXM NFL Radio show.

But Brandt couldn’t abandon his passion, offering his insight while working for the league and SIRIUS Radio. He was an annual fixture at the NFL Combine, where coaches, scouts and executives would pay homage to a scouting guru who was never too busy to share his wisdom.

“Of course, he wanted to know a prospect’s strength, speed and quickness,” Licht says, “but he was ahead of his time in terms of the mental makeup of the player. He was one of the first to use psychological testing … he went beyond their physical traits.”

As Licht approaches his 10th season as Bucs GM, he refers often to lessons he learned from Brandt.

When a player drafted by the Bucs fails to live up to expectations, Licht says the problems invariably stem from the neck up. For Licht, those players generally don’t love football enough to succeed at the pro level.

Those sentiments come directly from the Book of Brandt.

When the 2020 Bucs won the Super Bowl, Brandt sent Licht notes and texts of congratulation. Until recently, it was not unusual for Licht to receive a message or a phone call from Brandt heading into the draft, requesting information on a particular prospect.

“Whether you are a friend or not of Gil’s, you have to have respect for a guy who has done so much for the game, especially in the world of scouting,” Licht says. “He and I became very close.”

The next time Licht meets with his regional scouts, they’ll have a preliminary discussion about which prospects deserve to be at the top of Tampa Bay’s 2024 draft board. At some point, a glass will be raised in honor of Gil Brandt, the scouting pioneer who showed aspiring executives like Jason Licht how it’s done.

5 Responses to ““A True Pioneer””

  1. EternalSon Says:

    Rip Mr. Brandt.

    Thanks for the nice homage, Ira!

  2. August 1976 Buc Says:

    Thanks Ira, I wish this was a little longer post to read. He was a good guy who you always learned from when listening to him.

    RIP Gil

  3. Rob in Land O Lakes Says:

    Absolute legend.

  4. Cleanhouse Says:

    Very nice tribute Ira! RIP GB

  5. garro Says:

    A true legend Ira.

    His amazing memory is what astounded me. I would hear him on Serius. Talking about tidbits on guys from 50 years earliier that no one else in the NFL knew. And not just about guys that played in Dallas, but the whole league down to equipment managers.

    Go Bucs!