Cardinals’ Monti Ossenfort, Michael Bidwill explain hiring process for Jonathan Gannon

Feb 16, 2023, 1:12 PM
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort interviewed for GM jobs last offseason to no avail.

When asked about potential head coach candidates during the process, he gave his list but realized he did not know many of the coaches personally. So he reached out to those on his radar, which began his relationship with then-Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.

The Cardinals interviewed Gannon on Monday, hours after the Eagles dropped Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on Sunday, and named him head coach on Tuesday.

“It was a great learning experience for me, and one that helped me as I embarked on this process over the last five weeks,” Ossenfort said during Gannon’s introductory press conference on Thursday. “Ultimately, our process led us to Jonathan.

“Jonathan’s energy when he entered our room was nonstop from the beginning, all the more impressive coming off a Super Bowl just hours before. Jonathan’s vision for our organization matched up well … It was apparent Jonathan shared a lot of the same values that I value and Michael (Bidwill) values.”

The Cardinals announced the firing of Kliff Kingsbury on Jan. 9, hired Ossenfort to replace Steve Keim on Jan. 16 and spent the past month interviewing coaching candidates.

Ossenfort talked with Gannon about football and hypotheticals if they worked together in an organization during their conversations last year.

He brought up Gannon as an option early in Arizona’s coaching search, and the organization put together 10 names it eventually talked to.

Multiple prospects interviewed multiple times, including Bengals DC Lou Anarumo and Giants OC Mike Kafka, but Arizona jumped on the opportunity to hire Gannon less than 48 hours after the Super Bowl.

Gannon previously interviewed for the Houston Texans’ head coaching job after the regular season, but he told Fox 29 Philadelphia following the NFC Championship Game that he would return to the Eagles in 2023.

The head coach did not know he would even interview with the Cardinals until Sunday.

“I believe in being where your feet are … I live in the present, so compartmentalizing on Monday morning to get up and talk to Michael and Monti, that’s what I did,” Gannon said. “I obviously had prepped for that opportunity for a long time.

“I did not have a book, I didn’t have a piece of paper, I had one note card. I showed Michael my call sheet from the Super Bowl and said ‘This is how I do things. I write it by hand.’ Ultimately, we talked about what was in my brain and what was in my heart, and that led me this seat right now.”

Gannon said he was engaged with the Eagles’ playoff run before Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman told him postgame Sunday that he would not fly back with the team because Arizona wanted to speak to him.

He spoke with colleagues and did research about Arizona’s players ahead of discussions with Bidwill and Ossenfort.

“Throughout the process, because of where we were in the hiring process … what we didn’t want to do is be a distraction to some of the coaches whom as they were eliminated, we put in permission request forms,” Bidwill said. “We didn’t want to be a distraction to any one of the coaches, including Jonathan and the biggest game that there is.”

“We had to jump through some hoops for the timing to talk to not just Jonathan but other candidates, as well,” Ossenfort added.

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