The curse of the Cleveland Browns has engulfed the career of another young, rising NFL football mind, as the struggling franchise relieved 41-year-old Sashi Brown of his position as the Executive Vice President of football operations/de facto general manager. Brown served in the Cleveland front office in various leadership capacities from 2013 until his firing on Thursday.
Brown was in Cleveland since 2013
Brown was named the team’s top executive by owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam as part of an outside-the-box and ambitious overhaul following the 2015 season. Cleveland, a franchise who has been stuck in a muck of losing seasons, shaky talent evaluations and a merry-go-round of coaches, decided to totally go against the grain when they hired Brown, a former lawyer for the Jacksonville Jaguars with no prior football experience of any kind. They also hired Hue Jackson as head coach, giving them the only all-black GM and HC combination in the NFL.
In Brown, they had an Ivy League guy in the mold of a Brian Cashman with the Yankees or Theo Epstein with the Red Sox. He lacked direct knowledge and experience about football, but was a master negotiator, businessman and would bring fresh analytics, a trailer load of draft picks and some stability to the Cleveland Browns.
It was a long shot that didnt get much time to materialize or grow. Neither did Cleveland’s analytics-driven game plan. Less than 12 hours after announcing Brown’s firing, they hired John Dorsey as his replacement. Dorsey is a former player with a background in scouting. He spent the last four years as general manager of the Chiefs and worked in the Packers front office before that.
After Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson didn’t work out together, Jimmy Haslam now realizes that coaching and scouting must be aligned https://t.co/nnpkx00faI
The NFL is quick hook central, especially for brothers in positions of leadership and after failing to produce more than one win over two seasons, Cleveland ownership, who are quicker on the firing draw than any team in the league, decided to fire Brown. Head coach Hue Jackson will remain in his position despite a 1-27 record. Since 2013, Browns owner Haslam has hired and fired head coaches Rob Chudzinski and Mike Pettine, as well as executives Mike Lombardi, Joe Banner and Ray Farmer.
Welcome to the NFL; the land of rising stars, broken dreams and humble pie.
Before this brief gig as executive VP with Cleveland, Brown was a guy who never failed. He attended the prestigious HBCU Hampton University and then he went to Harvard Law school before becoming an attorney with Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr, a private law firm based in Washington, D.C.
As a member of the firms corporate law practice group, he advised companies in a variety of business transactions. He broke into the NFL front offices as the lead legal counsel for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2005 to 2012. Then he joined the Browns as a young prodigy.
The start of the 2017-18 season boasted an all-time high of six minority general managers; Rick Smith in Houston, Jerry Reese in New York, Ozzie Newsome in Baltimore, Brown in Cleveland, Reggie McKenzie in Oakland and Doug Whaley in Buffalo. With Reeses recent firing after 11 seasons and two Super Bowls and Browns ouster in Cleveland, that number has quickly dwindled to four.
If Cleveland truly believed in Brown and wasnt just desperately grabbing at straws in the first place by hiring him, then they should have stuck with their boy wonder longer. However, despite accumulating a bunch of draft picks, Cleveland fans were never even able to see a glimmer of the hope that ownership promised. At 0-12, the franchise keeps redefining the term “the abyss.”
Brown was never tested as a talent evaluator at the pro level and his glaring mistake – one that he will have nightmares about for years to come – was passing on DeShaun Watson in the NFL Draft and taking Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett instead. Cleveland felt that drafting DeShone Kizer later in the draft, would do the trick. They whiffed on Watson like a bunch of other teams. The analytics failed them.
How good was Deshaun Watson this season? This good.
Even LeBron James knew that.
I think DeShaun Watson should have been a Brown, James recently told reporters. It doesnt mean that Myles Garrett is not gonna be a great football player, but DeShaun Watson should have been our starting quarterback.
And if he was, maybe Sashi Brown would still be leading the Browns today. Careers are made and broken based on franchise quarterback selections. Cleveland has had many busts at quarterback and many chances to find a great one.
The curse of the Browns continues and in retrospect, Brown, a brother with a bright future, who will eventually get another chance to lead in some capacity once the stench of the Browns is off of him, is actually being done a favor.
In the meantime, he can learn from this experience and be better equipped to make his career-defining choice correctly next time.