The View From Pluto: The Browns Complete Their Ivy League Front Office Trifecta

Feb 5, 2020

The Cleveland Browns Wednesday will introduce their new general manager. Andrew Berry, 32, becomes the youngest GM in NFL history, and the league’s second current African-American to hold the position. WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says the Browns’ front office now has three Ivy League graduates.

An Ivy League front office
This is a reunion for Berry and the Browns. He spent 2016-2018 as vice president of player personnel under then-Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown. For the last year, Berry was been vice president of football operations with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Berry, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta and new coach Kevin Stefanski are all expected to report to Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam as equals. Berry (Harvard), DePodesta (Harvard) and Stefanski (Penn) are all Ivy League alums.

“He also was a football player at Harvard and tried out with the Washington Redskins in the NFL,” Pluto said. “He got his start as a scout with the Indianapolis Colts. In other words, he wasn’t in an office in front of a computer all the time.”

'My hope for the Browns is Andrew Berry has actually had a foot in both worlds.'

A football tribal warfare
Pluto says what Berry brings is a combination of a football and business background.

“In football, there’s almost a stone age mentality or tribal warfare,” Pluto said. “The two tribes are, the old-line football guys with the stopwatches and the film room and the scouts. Then there’s the new age. The analytics computer guys. My view is, why can’t you have both? And my hope for the Browns is Andrew Berry has actually had a foot in both worlds.”

Finding alignment
And Pluto says a downfall for the Browns is that they have always leaned toward extremes.

“Ray Farmer, the first minority GM that Haslam hired, was total football,” Pluto said. “He was a former linebacker, and he didn’t like the numbers. Then in true Browns fashion, they go in totally the other way in Sashi Brown, the former salary cap expert who brought in the analytics. And they, frankly, go I think too far in that direction. Then they fired Sashi Brown and brought in John Dorsey, who was more football.”

Pluto says he believes new coach Kevin Stefanski will fit in well with this blueprint.

“Stefanski grew up with that kind of background and he’s very comfortable with numbers. And he played football at Penn.”

Pluto, who has been critical of owner Jimmy Haslam’s hiring-and-firing patterns, applauds this new approach.

“Haslam has been willing to look at things differently. His weakness has been when you try to upend something and go in a totally different direction, you just need more patience. And he’s never been able to show that. No GM for him has lasted more than 25 months and if they only give Andrew Berry 25 months, he’s probably not going to give you the big turnaround that you want."