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Veteran NFL executive Bill Tobin, GM for Bears and Colts, dies at 83

Former NFL executive Bill Tobin has died at the age of 83. The news was announced on Friday by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Tobin has worked for the Bengals since 2003 as a scouting consultant for the player personnel department, which is currently led by his son Duke.

“With Bill, I respected everything he said,” Bengals president Mike Brown said on the team’s website. “I just took it as a given. He had an eye for players and what they would develop into. If he said the guy was a good player, then he was a good player; that’s all I would need to know. We will miss him.”

Before working for the Bengals, Tobin had a critically acclaimed career as a general manager for the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts. He also served as director of player personnel for the Detroit Lions. During his career, he drafted eight Hall of Famers, including Marshall Faulk and Marvin Harrison with the Colts.

Among NFL Draft followers, Tobin is perhaps best known for his criticism of ESPN analyst Mel Kiper during the 1994 draft. The Colts selected Faulk with the No. 2 pick, but then drafted linebacker Trev Alberts when many observers thought it was team needed a quarterback, specifically Trent Dilfer.

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ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen interviewed Tobin shortly afterwards and brought up the issue of not drafting a quarterback. The general manager responded by going after his most outspoken critic, the person who ripped Tobin on air, creating a memorable sports television moment.

“Who Is Mel Kiper Anyway?” Tobin asked, delivering a line that has become infamous in NFL Draft history. “I mean, here’s a guy who criticizes everyone, no matter who they take. He has the answers on who to take and who not to take.”

“As far as I know him, he’s never put on a jockstrap,” Tobin continued, as ESPN had Kiper listening on camera.

“He’s never been a coach, he’s never been a scout, he’s never been an administrator and all of a sudden he’s an expert,” Tobin added. “He’s in our papers two days ago, telling us who to take with us. We don’t have to take anyone that Mel Kiper tells us to take. Mel Kiper doesn’t have any more credentials to do what he does than my neighbor, and my neighbor is a mailman and he doesn’t even have season tickets for the NFL.”

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Kiper was among those who expressed condolences for Tobin on social media.

Despite many believing the Colts needed to upgrade with a younger QB over Jim Harbaugh, Tobin looked smart for sticking with his veteran as Indianapolis advanced to the AFC championship game as a wild card. Harbaugh played two more seasons for the Colts as the organization’s bridge to Peyton Manning (drafted by Bill Polian, who replaced Tobin).

Meanwhile, Dilfer had a modest NFL career, although he did win a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens. Alberts played 29 games in three seasons with the Colts.

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