Earlier this month, the Cleveland Browns made waves in the NFL by hiring longtime baseball executive Paul DePodesta, a hero of the game’s “Moneyball” revolution, as the club’s chief strategy officer.
On Wednesday, the Browns made their first “Moneyball” move by naming 28-year-old Andrew Berry as vice president of player personnel. Together with executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown, all three of thew new hires that will lead the umpteenth reimagining of Cleveland Browns football are Harvard graduates. (Figures it’d take three Harvard grads to fix the Browns, right?)
But this is no gimmick. In fact, there are no gimmicks — this side of the Cowboys, at least — in NFL front offices. There’s simply too much at stake. The Browns turned to Berry because, by all accounts, he appears to be football’s version of Theo Epstein.
“Andrew understands what it takes to build a winning team and the individual traits that are essential in looking at each player that make up that team,” Brown said in a statement, via the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “Andrew’s strategic and relentless approach to improving his craft and this team will positively impact our short and long-term opportunities. We are excited to welcome him to Cleveland.”
Together with a host of academic accolades — he won the FCS Athletic Director Association Scholar-Athlete of the Year and earned finalist nods for the John Wooden Citizen Cup and the William V. Campbell Trophy while graduating cum laude in economics and earned a master’s in computer science in four years at Harvard — Berry was a standout on the gridiron as a cornerback.
After a tryout with the Washington Redskins fizzled out, Berry chose an entry level job as a scouting assistant with the Indianapolis Colts over a job offer at Goldman Sachs. From there Berry rose to pro scout and then pro scouting coordinator in 2012 before landing in Cleveland.
“Andrew Berry is one of the brightest young men we ever had the pleasure of working with,” said former Colts executive and Hall of Famer Bill Polian. “He came to us very early in his career and very soon we realized he was on a fast track. I am not surprised the Browns hired him for this very important position. I assure you he has both the capacity and the will to do an outstanding job. The Browns have made, in my humble opinion, a great hire.”