Paul DePodesta Says Officials from Other NFL Teams 'Talking Trash' on Browns

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2016

** FILE **Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta listens to a reporter in the media work room before a game against the Baltimore Orioles in Vero Beach, Fla., in this March 16, 2005 file photo. On Saturday, Oct. 29, 2005, Dodgers' owner Frank McCourt announced DePodesta's firing. McCourt cited the team's lack of success as the reason DePodesta was let go.
LM OTERO/Associated Press

The Cleveland Browns have been on the receiving end of plenty of criticism in recent years due to their on-field struggles, and new chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta has already heard some of it firsthand.

According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, the 43-year-old executive overheard fellow NFL front office people badmouthing him and the Browns at the NFL Scouting Combine: "I was standing right in front of them in line, and I could hear them in back of me, and they were talking trash about me and the Cleveland Browns. I said, 'All right, this is like 17 years ago in Oakland all over again.' That's part of the fun."

DePodesta spent nearly 20 years in Major League Baseball, and he famously served as the assistant to Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane from 1999 to 2004. He and Beane helped popularize the sabermetric team-building strategy known as Moneyball, which was later turned into a hit movie starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.

Many eyebrows were raised when the Browns hired DePodesta despite his lack of NFL experience, and the organization has seemingly had a nightmarish offseason on the surface, having lost center Alex Mack, offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz, wide receiver Travis Benjamin and safety Tashaun Gipson in free agency.

During his time with the A's, though, DePodesta made a living off signing and drafting gems that other teams didn't see value in. 

That allowed them to make the playoffs four straight years from 2000 to 2003, despite having a much smaller payroll than most other teams in the league.

The Browns haven't made the playoffs since 2002, and while they conceivably have money to spend due to the presence of deep-pocketed owner Jimmy Haslam, a new approach was undoubtedly needed.

It isn't unfair to say the Browns are the NFL's current laughingstock, but DePodesta is no stranger to these types of situations.

Cleveland owns the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft and essentially has a clean slate to work with, so DePodesta has a chance to turn the leaguewide chuckles into praise provided his statistical approach carries over from MLB to the NFL.


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