GREEN BAY - In the summer of 2005, the year after he graduated from Green Bay East High School, Cassidy Kaminski worked at a gas station that happened to be strategically located between John Dorsey’s house and the golf course Dorsey frequented, Ledgeview in De Pere.
Dorsey then was the director of college scouting for the Green Bay Packers. Kaminski was a 19-year-old kid with a photographic memory who’d been fascinated with scouting for as long as he could remember.
“For my 10th birthday, I got a Packers medallion, a Reggie White plaque and a scouting combine video,” Kaminski said as he worked on a platter of cheese curds at Kroll’s, just across the street from Lambeau Field. “I was always the kid who was talking about players’ 40 times or how big they were.”
One day, Kaminski worked up the nerve to talk to Dorsey.
“I said, ‘I know who you are, I know what you do, and I’d do anything to do what you do,’” Kaminski said.
Dorsey could have said, “Sure, kid,” paid for his gas and been on his way. But Kaminski’s ambition struck a chord. Every time he stopped in to pay for gas on his way to or from the golf course, Dorsey spent a few minutes talking football with Kaminski.
Their unlikely friendship wound up putting Kaminski on a path to his career goal: working as a scout for an NFL team and, ultimately, running one.
“I’ve always wanted to put together a team as much as I wanted to play on one,” said Kaminski, who did play high school football at East. “It’s just the way I’m wired, I guess.”
There would be dues to pay, and Kaminski has paid them:
Two years at St. Norbert College, where he was in charge of offensive quality control and coached wide receivers. Six years as a special assistant to the support staff at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he has timed players in the 40-yard dash and run informal interviews with coordinators and position coaches. Four years as a volunteer at the East-West Shrine Game, where he has had coaching responsibilities and has done player research and scouting.
And now this: On July 31, the 30-year-old Kaminski leaves for Australia, where he has taken a position with the Wollongong Devils in the National Gridiron League, an eight-team league that plays American-rules football — seven games over a 14-week season from October to January.
He is the Devils’ wide receivers coach, video coordinator and director of player personnel. The head coach is Nate Slutzky, a former assistant at Fordham, but it was Kaminski who put together most of the 40-player roster.
“I got to basically pick my wide receivers and tight ends,” said Kaminski, who signed, among others, former Oklahoma State stars Josh Stewart and Blake Jackson.
It’s a long way, literally and figuratively, from Wollongong to the NFL. But just as Kaminski told Dorsey a decade ago, he’ll do whatever it takes to get there.
“I’m up for anything,” said Kaminski, who is single.
How does he know he has what it takes to be a scout in the NFL? How can he — or anyone, for that matter — discern the differences between two superbly talented and conditioned athletes of similar size who play the same position?
“I wish I could explain that,” Kaminski said. “I grew up watching Packers practices. I’ve been watching these guys up close. I played pickup basketball at the ‘Y’ with Donald Driver when I was 12. I’ve always been around the athleticism.
“When you see it, you see it. When you see somebody bend like Clay (Matthews) and get around the edge, it clicks.”
Kaminski said it was important to be decisive and direct. This isn’t a business for wishy-washy people. The late Al Davis was known to browbeat a scout over a player evaluation and then, after the scout changed his mind, yell at him for not sticking to his guns.
After the 2006 NFL draft, Kaminski, then 20 and still working at the gas station, challenged Dorsey about a particular pick, asking why the Packers had taken Greg Jennings, a wide receiver from Western Michigan, in the second round.
“He looked at me and said, ‘Boy, Greg Jennings is the best receiver in the draft,’” Kaminski recalled.
Dorsey, now the Kansas City Chiefs’ general manager, liked the kid’s moxie. He told Kaminski to get his college degree, and then they’d talk. After Kaminski graduated from UW-Eau Claire, he sent Dorsey his résumé.
That led to an eight-hour interview for a scouting job with the Packers. Kaminski was fresh out of college and had no experience. He wasn’t going to get hired. But Dorsey was impressed enough to recom
mend Kaminski for a position with the NFL Scouting Combine.
“I owe him the world,” Kaminski said.
One thing led to another, and the kid who grew up in the shadows of Lambeau Field is headed to Australia to chase his dream on the other side of the world.
It’s a tough business and there are no guarantees. But something tells you Cassidy Kaminski is going to stick.