Young African American to key Browns new leadership team
Last December, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam met with the Call & Post to discuss the newspaper centennial celebration among other items. During that meeting, Haslam provided hints to the Browns’ future.
When I praised Haslam for his hiring of African-American General Manager Ray Farmer, he was quick to interject the name of his executive vice president/general counsel Sashi Brown.
Perhaps that was the hint of what was to come. This week the Browns relieved both head coach Mike Pettine and General Manager Ray Farmer of their duties after the team’s final game of the season.
Haslam then made the announcement that Brown would be promoted from his prestigious post to that of the powerful position of executive VP of football operations, responsible for the entire 53-man roster.
“My focus in heading up our football operations will be building the best department possible and incorporating extensive resources so that we can maximize our ability to make the best decisions for the Cleveland Browns,” said Brown. “We must capitalize on every opportunity to develop our players to the fullest. Having spent 11 years in the league, working as a football executive, I have a deep respect for the critical role of talent evaluation, and we will look to find an individual who excels in that area and is a good leader for the scouts and personnel. My family and I have quickly embraced living in Northeast Ohio and want nothing more than to be a part of a successful turnaround for the Browns.”
Anyone thinking Brown, who was named to the Sports Business Journal's "Forty Under 40" list in 2015, is in over his head better think again.
The Boston native started his career at the Washington, D.C., law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr Wilmer in 2002. The firm’s sports work included Jerry Jones’ purchase of the Dallas Cowboys, the sale of the Washington Redskins to Dan Snyder, and Steve Bisciotti’s purchase of the Ravens.
Brown did some work on Bisciotti’s buyout of Art Modell to complete his purchase of the team, as well as on the sale of a minority interest in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and on some sponsorship contracts for the Dallas Cowboys.
The graduate of Hampton University (B.A., communications) attended Harvard Law School, he is married to Paige and the couple has two sons, Robeson and Ellison.
He represents the new evolution of sports and business – young, brilliant and capable of mastering multiple tasks. Most importantly he’s one in whom Haslam has complete trust and confidence.
Brown was hired as the by the Browns in January 2013. This season marked Brown's 11th in the NFL. Brown will have "ultimate say over the roster," according to Haslam.
He has overseen the team's salary cap, negotiations of player contracts and worked closely with Farmer.
“Sashi's leadership, strategic thinking and appreciation for the importance of alignment between coaching and football operations will be tremendous assets for our football team in his new role,” said Haslam. We need to be more comprehensive in our approach to personnel, and Sashi's ability to pull information together from many different sources to enhance the efforts of our personnel department will ideally help us have more success in our football decisions. In addition, Sashi understands how critical it is to focus on the short and long-term process of team building, and that will positively impact our organization.”
Brown's role with the team on the business end prior to his promotion included contract negotiation, government affairs, and employment matters, insurance and risk management, licensing and intellectual property issues and litigation management.
How did Brown get into football in the first place?
“I wish I could tell you there was some well-thought-out sophisticated plan, but there really wasn’t,” Brown said. “I was doing traditional corporate work. Venture capital and private equity. I got an opportunity to start working on some sports transactions,” he said in a previous interview.
“I started peeking under the hood of what clubs deal with day-to-day, what makes some good or bad, and at some league issues,” Brown said. “It was all interesting to learn about.”
Now he is charged with arguably the greatest challenge of his young career, transforming the doormat Browns from cellar dwellers to consistent winners.
It is a chore that many before him have failed at, much to the dismay of the Browns’ loyal and passionate fan base.
Prior to joining the Browns, he served as senior vice president and general counsel for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He played a role in negotiating the naming rights deal for EverBank Field.
So, now the Cleveland fans will discover what Sashi Brown can do for their beloved football team.