Football alum keeps focus on field

Michael Aronson | Sports Reporter

Bill Stover | WUSTL Photos

Jonathan Howard (17) breaks down for a tackle on special teams against Rhodes College in 2011. Howard is now working as a Scouting Assistant for the New England Patriots.

Former Washington University football player Jonathan Howard hasn’t missed watching a National Football League draft since he was 10 years old. More than a decade later, he realized his dream of working in professional sports when the New England Patriots hired him as a scouting assistant for the team.

Howard graduated from the Olin Business School as an Economics and Strategy major in 2012, and he was one of the founding members of the Olin Sports Management Organization along with several other members of his class. After graduating from Wash. U., Howard pursued his passion for sports management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he completed his master’s in sports management while also working with the UMass Amherst football team on recruiting.

Howard chose UMass Amherst partly because of the number of alumni who have been successful in the NFL and other areas of sports management. After forming relationships with other members of his program at UMass Amherst, a classmate of his referred him to the Patriots to become a scouting assistant.

Toward the end of his senior year at Wash. U., “I realized that I didn’t really want to pursue banking or marketing even though those were the fields that I had experience in,” Howard said. “I basically realized that I liked to be challenged mentally. I liked thinking and having to think of things big-picture, but I wanted to stay around football. That took me to the University of Massachusetts, where I got my master’s degree in sports management.”

Once Howard starting working for the Patriots, he was surprised at how different being at the team’s training camp was than seeing it on TV.

“I had no idea that there would be so many fans at training camp,” Howard said. “We walked out there for the first open practice, and there were like 3,000 people out there. There were more people than there are normally at a high school game just to watch the team practice. They were cheering while the guys were stretching and doing basic drills, which was a little different for me.”

Though Howard is unable to detail much of his work with Patriots due to confidentiality, he noted that his work involves watching extensive amounts of film and helping out with general personnel operations.

“At the end of the day, you have to be well-versed on your team and everyone else,” Howard said. “My job is about acquiring information and then putting it in a way where some of our older guys in the organization, some of our scouts who have been doing this for as long as I have been alive, can interpret that information and evaluate it as best as possible.”

Howard relates his experience with the Patriots to his experiences at Wash. U. because both places are very goal-oriented. He attributes much of his success and involvement with the Patriots to forming lasting relationships with people in the industry.

“One of my good buddies from our graduate program is working for an MLB organization doing the same things that I’m doing with the Patriots,” Howard said. “When I had a little bit of time over the summer, I visited him and got to learn from some of the guys who he is working with for like three days. That gave me a perspective that I was never going to forget. Even when I’m 40 or 50 years old, I’ll have that understanding of how they do things in the MLB because I’m close with that guy and know him on a personal level. It is the same way when you’re scouting. Sources are important.”

As for his future with the Patriots’ organization, Howard hopes to continue learning from other established members in the sports management industry to expand his knowledge of scouting in the NFL.

“In five to 10 years, my goal is to still be evaluating guys and influencing the organization in a positive way,” Howard said. “This place is a pretty nice place to be, so I’m thankful for the opportunity here. I’d love to be here forever if I can.”