Prior to Sunday's news conference announcing the firings of Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine and General Manager Ray Farmer, few people had heard of the name Sashi Brown.
But when it comes to whatever shape this team takes with its 53-man roster, "the ultimate say will be Sashi's," said owner Jimmy Haslam.
Brown, 39, graduated from Harvard Law School in 2002 and went to work for a Washington, D.C. law firm that did work with several NFL teams which provided the Boston native with his introduction to the league. Two years later he joined the Jacksonville Jaguars as their general counsel, coming to Cleveland in the same role in 2013.
On Sunday Haslam elevated Brown to the position of executive vice president of football operations. "He is smart, very organized, good at systems and processes and an outstanding team player," Haslam said.
Brown will be on the team that selects the new head coach, who will answer to Haslam. Then they will hire a general manager, who will answer to Brown, whose primary job will be talent acquisition. But when it comes to determining the roster Brown will have the final word.
As Browns players cleaned out their lockers for the season Monday, most spoke highly of Brown, though they had few dealings with him in his role as counsel.
"He's coming from Harvard so there shouldn't be any doubt in him," said Defensive Lineman Danny Shelton.
"I don't really know what his background is per se or anything like that. I just know the things I've dealt with him with he's been very intelligent, very straightforward," said Offensive Lineman Joel Bitonio.
"It's Jimmy's call and you know he wouldn't put Sashi in a position unless he knew that he could make some things happen," he said.
Haslam said he's studied other winning organizations in the NFL. "I don't think structure is quite as important as right people in the right place and everybody understanding their roles and working well together," he said.
Offensive Lineman Joe Thomas said, "I do think the more Mr. Haslam's around as an owner the more he'll learn. He's obviously a bright, extremely bright person who wants to get it right.
"He's been doing a lot of studying of other organizations that have had success and try to figure out what's going to work for the Cleveland Browns," Thomas said.
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