Matthew Capogrosso lived for this time of year. April is NFL Draft month as hope springs eternal for the Jets and teams across the league. Capogrosso, the Jets' director of football systems, had been a titan behind the scenes for 15 years.
"Matthew was an intricate part of our organization," said Jets CEO Woody Johnson. "He was a brilliant programmer but an even better person who loved the Jets and played an essential role in our draft operations every year. A key member of our best-in-class IT department, Matthew embodied everything you want in a teammate and a friend."
While "Cappy" won't be at One Jets Drive on draft weekend, his valued work and his passionate spirit will continue to help the Jets take another step. On Friday afternoon, Capogrosso died after a two-year battle with cancer.
"April was his month, all the work that he does," said team president Hymie Elhai. "The draft room runs on Titan software. Like you walk in there and everything that is open is his handiwork."
A Jet since 2008, Capogrosso first served as a lead software developer for 13 years before transitioning to director of football systems.
"He was an amazing person and an amazing developer," said Tom Murphy, the team's vice president of information technology. "We both would arrive early at the office, and we'd have so many different conversations about the Jets, his family and life. He was a wonderful talent who will be missed."
GM Joe Douglas added: "The system he created allows us to work seamlessly across our scouting operations. He was a programmer that understood football and could anticipate what made sense for the next iteration of the system before a football person could ask."
Managing all football systems and data, Capogrosso created and maintained the Jets' scouting system that supports all aspects of player evaluations.
"Back in the beginning, Titan was two separate systems — college and pro — and they really didn't talk," said Chris Miller, an application manager who served as Capogrosso's mentee. "Cappy was able to merge them into one, so it was a constant thing. You want to look at this guy, I can easily get his pro and his college numbers and reports. Whatever you needed, it was there."
Capogrosso was responsible for the unification of analytic data from various sources into visual representations. During his tenure, he worked for five different head coaches and four different general managers.
"They would show him stuff and he'd be like let's try this," Miller said. "That is even better than what I had before, and he was able to keep growing with each GM almost. He'd have to break it down and rewrite the entire scouting application that we had, but each time it was better and better."
In the spring of 2021, Capogrosso was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had surgery and then made sure he worked the draft before a first round of another sort — chemotherapy treatments. After almost a full year of working at home, Capogrosso returned to One Jets Drive for the 2022 Draft that saw the team land a class headlined by CB Sauce Gardner, the Defensive Rookie of the Year, WR Garrett Wilson, the Offensive Rookie of the Year, and another gamechanger in RB Breece Hall. But in January, his health took a turn for the worse. Even after a liver cancer diagnosis, Capogrosso was texting colleagues about what needed to be done.
"Through February meetings, he was making the changes that were being requested," said Paul Marsh, the team's senior director of application development. "Those meetings obviously helped set the stage for the draft."
Capogrosso, a native of Netcong, NJ, played football at Lenape Valley High School. After receiving a bachelor of science at Muhlenberg College, he added a master's degree in computer science from Penn State.
"He was reserved until you got to know him," Marsh said. "You talk to his mom, and she'll say it's always one-word answers with him. Reserved but full of love for family, goofy in his own way. When you got to know him, random Cappy kind of jokes."
Miller added: "Quiet ... unless you knew him. I would get random text messages and team messages from him all the time about different sports, everything. He loved a good bracket, like March Madness, Wimbledon. We'd be like, all right, what's the bracket? We'd be doing Division III football. We beat you this week, he'd say, we're now ranked 10 and you dropped to 21. He was great, he'd talk to you about everything."
Capogrosso loved football and he loved the Jets, but there was nothing he was more passionate about than his family. He married his wife, Courtney, in 2009, and they had twins, Leighton and Jude, shortly thereafter.
"He adored them," said Steven Piazza, the team's senior director of network services. "He'd always make time for them. Anything for them, he would do. No questions asked, whatever to help his wife, to help the kids. He coached his son in football and loved the dancing his daughter was doing and would show videos of that. He was a great father to them and a great husband."
Capogrosso was steady personally and professionally. Douglas was on the job for a few months before firing off a text to Elhai that read, "Whatever we pay Cappy probably isn't enough. He is awesome. Guy gets (crap) done."
The Jets currently own six selections in the 2023 NFL Draft, starting with the 13th pick in Round 1 and a pair of second-rounders (Nos. 42 and 43). And as they work on improving what has become one of the best young rosters in football, they'll again be aided by Capogrosso's craftsmanship.
His seat in the IT room will remain vacant as his impact on the Jets lives on.