The Cleveland Browns are turning to baseball to fix its football problems.
Days after firing its head coach and general manager, the Browns have hired Paul DePodesta of the New York Mets as the team’s new chief strategy officer.
DePodesta, who is famous for being represented by Jonah Hill in the popular movie “Moneyball,” helped the Mets return to the World Series last year. He will now report directly to Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam, placing him above recently-hired executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown.
“We are fortunate to bring in Paul, an extremely talented, highly respected sports executive who will add a critical dimension to our front office,” Haslam said. “His approach and ambition to find the best pathways for organizational success transcend one specific sport and his experience as a high-level sports executive make him a terrific addition to the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns hope DePodesta can help the team’s player development efforts, as well as the sports-science, high-performance and analytics departments to rebound from the dismal 3-13 performance of the recently-completed season. He will also have a seat at the table regarding personnel discussions, which includes the NFL Draft and likely the discussion of what will happen with problematic quarterback and former first-round pick Johnny Manziel.
“Paul has invaluable experience in management and leadership with a number of highly successful sports teams,” Brown said. “His ability to create better processes and systems throughout organizations, his use of data as a tool to produce better outcomes, and his relentless focus on looking for innovative ways to create more success will be a strong asset as we look to be as comprehensive as possible in our decision-making.”
While DePodesta is famous for his work with the Oakland A’s and Mets, his roots come from playing football at Harvard and he has been rumored to express a desire to return to the sport.
“Cleveland and football have always held a special place in my heart,” DePodesta said. “It was 20 years ago this month, after pursing my first love of football and looking at every possible job in the NFL, that I got the biggest break I could imagine — a job offer from the American League champion Cleveland Indians. As excited as I was then, I am even more excited now to return to Cleveland and to try to help the Browns.”