Mike Mestieri works in the family business. The hours are long, the pay isn’t great, but he loves every minute of it.
“I knew football was what I wanted to get into,” Mestieri, 29, said.
A 2002 graduate of Lawrence High School and 2007 grad of Springfield College, Mestieri is a scouting assistant with the New York Giants, the professional football team he’s loved for as long as he could cheer in joy and yell in despair. When the season starts in September, Mestieri will work seven days a week, breaking down film on the Giants’ opponents.
“Last year I was breaking down a lot of special teams,” Mestieri said. “I was looking at personnel packages and writing reports on every player on the other team.”
Mestieri has been around football his entire life. His father, Ed Mestieri, was a longtime assistant and head coach at Colby College and is now an assistant coach at the University of Maine. Mestieri grew up surrounded by football and knew at a young age he wanted the game to be a big part of his life.
“My goal was to get a job in the NFL,” Mestieri, who also had an internship with the St. Louis Rams in 2009, said.
Mestieri was an offensive lineman at Springfield. With Mestieri the starting center in 2006, the Pride went 10-2. Mestieri was working as an assistant football coach at his alma mater last summer while pursuing a master’s degree when his NFL opportunity called.
Mark Azevedo, a Colby graduate who played tight end for Mestieri’s father and is now a scout for the Baltimore Ravens, called. He knew the Giants had an entry level opening, if Mestieri was interested.
Mestieri got the job and started last July 23. It’s the thankless grunt work that goes into every team’s week-by-week prep for the next game, and once the season begins, days off are a rumor.
It starts shortly after Sunday’s game ends. Mestieri and the other assistants start dissecting game film of the next opponent. They look at every player in every situation. On a typical Monday during the season, Mestieri will arrive the Giants headquarters at 5:15 a.m. He’ll work until 8:30 p.m. Each subsequent day is a little shorter, until Saturday is a relatively normal, eight hour shift.
When the Giants have a home game at MetLife Stadium, Mestieri will be in the press box, studying the play of potential free agents on the opposing team. When the Giants are on the road, the Jets are usually home, and Mestieri will sit in the press box at their games, too, evaluating more players.
Mestieri will put together what are called story tapes on players. He’ll watch a player’s effort in five or six games and put together a comprehensive reel of their performance.
“It’s not just a highlight tape. You’re putting good plays on there, but you put bad plays on, too. You want to see the full range of their abilities,” Mestieri said.
In the offseason, Mestieri evaluates potential free agent signings. One of those players was Cullen Jenkins, a defensive tackle the Giants signed from rival Philadelphia who is expected to see significant playing time in the upcoming season.
“This year, I spent a lot of time looking at defensive tackles and defensive linemen, because that was one of our greatest needs,” Mestieri said.
The Giants fan in Mestieri walks into the office every morning and becomes giddy at the sight of the four Lombardi Trophies. The employee in Mestieri knows he has to bear down and get to work if the Giants want to win a fifth.
Right now, Mestieri is home in Maine enjoying rare down time. Soon he’ll prepare to go to Giants training camp in New Jersey. If everything goes well, this job is Mestieri’s stepping stone.
“I want to work my way up and be a full-time scout. I’d like to be a director of scouting,” Mestieri said.
For now, he’ll continue to study each opponent each week, writing reports on every player the Giants will encounter.
“Just being around football is great,” Mestieri said. “The fact that it happened with the Giants is special.”
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242