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Broncos shake up front office

By Lindsay H. Jones and Mike Klis
The Denver Post
Posted: 02/13/2009 12:30:00 AM MST Updated: 02/13/2009 12:56:11 AM MST
Brian Xanders (The Denver Post)

Pat Bowlen again has made a major change atop the Broncos organization.

Less than two months after Bowlen fired coach Mike Shanahan and hired Josh McDaniels, the team owner on Thursday appointed Brian Xanders as the team's sole general manager and fired Jim Goodman and Jeff Goodman.

The decision effectively disbands the three-man team that had been running the team's personnel department for the past year.

Jim Goodman had been the vice president of football operations and was in charge of player evaluation. Jeff Goodman, who is Jim's son, had shared the title of assistant general manager with Xanders for a year.

"Really, what I was interested in doing was resetting the way we do business around here," Bowlen said Thursday in a telephone interview. "Brian Xanders was what I considered a true general manager."

Xanders, 37, will be in charge of player personnel issues, including scouting and contract negotiations, though McDaniels will likely have the final say in selecting the roster. Bowlen said Xanders and McDaniels will independently report to him.

"We've really changed the complexion of this organization," Bowlen said. "I think it's going to help big-time."

Still, Thursday's moves were a surprise considering comments Bowlen and McDaniels made after the new coach was hired Jan. 12. At that time, Bowlen reiterated statements he made after Shanahan's firing that he didn't anticipate any changes in the personnel department, while McDaniels had said Jim Goodman would have the final say in personnel decisions.

Bowlen's decision surprised the Goodmans, who up until early Thursday afternoon were at work, evaluating players for free agency and the upcoming draft. Both father and son had represented the Broncos at the Senior Bowl in Alabama last month.

"I thank Mr. Bowlen for the opportunity he gave me," Jeff Goodman said Thursday evening. "I wish Brian and Josh the best of luck going forward. It's a class organization that will continue to have success in the future. I'm proud of what we've accomplished in the short period of time that I was here, made a lot of good relationships and look forward to seeing the Broncos have success in the future."

Bowlen said he knew the decision to streamline the personnel department, with Xanders at the top, would leave Jeff Goodman "disenfranchised."

Bowlen acknowledged some "anxiety" between Jeff Goodman and Xanders as they shared duties, and though Bowlen said there was no friction in their relationship, it was inevitable that the one not picked to be GM would have to leave.

"My decision was to pick Brian as the general manager, and once I did that I don't think Jeff felt - he didn't come out and say this - but he felt he should have moved on," Bowlen said. "I think he should move on to a different organization and become a general manager."

By going with Xanders, that also meant proceeding without Jim Goodman, who had been with the Broncos for 11 years. Bowlen said he didn't think Jim would be comfortable staying without Jeff.

"I don't think it would have worked," Bowlen said. "Knowing Jim for a long time, I have a great deal of respect for him. Jim is a top-notch guy who could run anybody's scouting department. And I felt he should be given that opportunity."

Xanders was hired last May as an assistant GM after spending 14 years with the Atlanta Falcons. His expertise is in the business side of personnel matters, especially in dealing with the salary cap and contract negotiations. Though Xanders does have experience in player evaluation, Bowlen said he expects to hire someone else - likely someone with prior connections to either Xanders or McDaniels - to be in charge of scouting.

"I am humbled by this opportunity and accept it as a great challenge on behalf of our fans, our community, Mr. Bowlen and the organization. I am excited to work together with Coach McDaniels and put our collective resources into winning football games," Xanders said in a statement released by the team.

This is the second overhaul of the Broncos' front office in less than a year after Shanahan fired former general manager Ted Sundquist on March 12.

Lindsay H. Jones: 303-954-1262 or ljones@denverpost.com Mike Klis: 303-954-1055 or mklis@denverpost.com

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