Friday, January 29, 2016

Harvard Browns?

Got to hand it to the Browns as they continue their effort to have the smartest front office in the entire National Football League.

First, there was Sashi Brown, the Harvard-educated lawyer now resting at the top of the organizational chart right below owner Jimmy Haslam III. Then along came chief strategic officer Paul DePodesta, another Harvard graduate.

And now we have Andrew Berry, who arrives in Cleveland from Indianapolis as the new vice president/player personnel, a fancy title that actually means he’s as close to being the team’s general manager without actually being the team’s general manager. And yes, another Harvard grad.

76 Lou Groza Blvd. in Berea has slowly turned into the Harvard University of the Midwest at the front-office level.

Upon his arrival, Berry quickly picked up a nice endorsement from former Colts President Bill Polian, one of the most respected front-office executives in the last generation and a half.

"Andrew Berry is one of the brightest young men we ever had the pleasure of with,” Polian wrote in a statement released by the Browns. “. . . I am not surprised the Browns hired him for this very important position. I assure you he has both the capacity and the will to do an outstanding job. The Browns have made, in my humble opinion, a great hire.”

That should satisfy the sycophants. Blind faith can do that. Now all Berry has to do is back up those words.

There seems to be a fine line between the three Harvard graduates from a flow chart standpoint. Ultimately, it appears as though Brown is in the kitchen and closest to the frying pan since he is Berry’s boss.

He still has final call on the Browns’ 53-man roster, but most likely will bow more often than not to Berry’s much greater knowledge of personnel. After all, that’s why he was hired.

Berry, an NFL baby at just 28 years old, ran the Colts’ pro scouting department the last four years – he was with them for seven seasons in various capacities – and will basically work with Brown and head coach Hue Jackson to form the roster.

All well and good. So who receives the praise/blame for wise/stupid personnel decisions? Brown, Jackson or Berry? Certainly not DePodesta, who has more important things about which to worry.

In naming his new personnel chief, Brown uttered all the right words. “Andrew understands what it takes to build a winning team and the individual traits that are essential in looking at each player that make up a team,” he said.

“(His) strategic and relentless approach to improving his craft and this team will positively impact our short- and long-term opportunities.”

But when you stop and think about those words, don’t they apply to just about every new hire for an important position on an NFL team? Words of praise are a stock companion. What lies ahead for Brown and Berry, however, is a path strewn with all kinds of debris.

There will be plenty of arguing and gnashing of teeth between the relatively inexperienced Brown and Berry and a coaching staff dominated by veteran coaches who,, in some cases, have been around nearly as long as those two have been on this mortal coil.

Simply put, new school vs. old school. A lot of fires will erupt with the veteran coaches rolling their eyes a lot wondering just what the hell they’ve gotten into.

It will be interesting to watch how often Brown and Berry yield to the greater knowledge of the veteran coaches with regard to the player personnel and that includes Jackson.

Who will carry the most clout? Berry, a relatively wet-behind-the-ears young man given his first shot at putting together a team, or a coaching staff that has been down these roads many more times.

Brown presumably will be the man to douse any fires that erupt between the two factions. He’ll be busy.

Now if all those brains translate into victories on the football field, well done Mr. Haslam. If not, it will be back to the drawing board again and this time, football experience will be the main focus rather than potential.

The Browns have tried everything in the last 17 seasons to craft a winning team. Experience with such luminaries as Mike Holmgren Tom Heckert, Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi failed miserably.

So why not trying something different? And that’s exactly what Haslam has done. Right now, the young bucks are in charge. With two of the first 32 selections in April’s college draft, they had better get it right.


  1. It would seem that Haslam is willing to try something new everywhere but with Manziel. After two years of embarrassment, lies and questionable behavior, he still claims that the situation is "repairable"(Johnny has just proved him wrong, once again) but the point is, I feel that this is nothing more than a huge ego problem for Haslam. God forbid he should ever admit he made a mistake drafting Manziel.

  2. He has to say that in order to get other teams to remain even remotely interested in Manziel. But he's fooling only himself if he thinks he can get something for the kid. It's not a matter of ego. And he has admitted the team has made drafting mistakes the last couple of years.