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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Paul DePodesta says he heard other NFL officials ‘talking trash’ about him, Browns


The Cleveland Browns decided to try something very new in an attempt to turn their misfortunes around when they hired Paul DePodesta, a baseball guy who was a head scout with the New York Mets and played a big part in the “Moneyball” approach the Oakland A’s made famous. Not surprisingly, other teams don’t believe it will work.

While he was leaving the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month, DePodesta says he overheard other NFL officials “talking trash” about him and his new team.

“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,” DePodesta said last week, per Zac Jackson of Pro Football Talk. “I said, ‘All right, this is like 17 years ago in Oakland all over again.’ That’s part of the fun.”

Fans have already been grumbling that the Browns are trying to institute an analytics-driven approach, as they have let four key players — center Alex Mack, offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz, receiver Travis Benjamin, and safety Tashaun Gipson — leave in free agency. DePodesta said it is important to trust the plan.

“A lot of (baseball) owners would say, ‘Hey, we want ‘Moneyball,’ we want this disciplined approach to what we’re doing,'” he said. “But then when it comes time to make that hard decision, they say, ‘I don’t want any part of this.’

“I said, ‘I need someone who’s going to want to get on the roller coaster with me knowing that it’s not always going to be fun. There are going to be parts of the roller coaster that are going to be scary, that are going to be uncomfortable, but hopefully at the end of the ride when we get off, you’re going to want to say, let’s do that again.’”

The Browns have won five or less games in all but one season (they won seven once) since 2007. They have whiffed on draft pick after draft pick, so it’s not as if DePodesta and an analytical mindset can make things much worse. But if the team is just as bad in 2016 as it was last season, you can expect more reactions like this from fans.

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