NEW ORLEANS — Gil Brandt has been evaluating talent and shaping the NFL game for about a half-century.
The former vice president and personnel chief of the Dallas Cowboys (1960-1988), one of the men most responsible for the Cowboys' becoming one of the game's most glamorous franchises, turns 80 in March.
Brandt still provides his insight as a regular on the Sirius Radio Network, and he still is a go-to guy for insight and expertise on everything from strategy to, yes, talent level.
By the way, he loves 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and that fondness is not because both are Wisconsin natives.
"He's such an amazing story," Brandt said.
Like many around the NFL, Brandt does not see the current influx of runners/passers at quarterback as a fad. He points to the game's roots, football's base levels, for proof.
"You have better athletes who are bigger and faster and they work on their passing," he said. "It is a great thing for the NFL.
"In the playoffs this season, we had teams that scored 28 points and did not win. The quarterbacks coming into the game are more polished in their passing skills. Those 7-on-7 passing leagues in high school have become such a big thing in developing quarterbacks."
For further evidence of football's fundamental change, Brandt referred to the Oklahoma Sooners, who threw the ball about once a month decades ago.
"Oklahoma attempted 619 passes this year," he said. "It's all been turned around. Quarterbacks are coached better. All those quarterback camps also have played a role."