It took a while, but the Cleveland Browns have finally got themselves a general manager. They have been the slowest of the teams creating vacancies atop their football hierarchies this offseason, having also been the last team to agree to a contract wit ha new head coach. They ultimately made the decision to hire Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski.
Reportedly, the Browns’ intention this offseason, in a search headed by Paul DePodesta, was to make sure that they get a head coach and general manager pairing that will work well together. That was why their top candidate for the general manager job was also from the Vikings, but he pulled his name from the race.
Their focus then turned to Andrew Berry, who had been with the team from 2016 through 2018 before taking a promotion with the Philadelphia Eagles. He had been a part of the head coach search that landed them on Freddie Kitchens last year, however, and he and Stefanski (who was also interviewed last year but was passed over) had a good relationship.
Stefanski was the guy DePodesta wanted. He got him, and now he has a general manager who already worked under him and knows how the Browns want to do things. This is, I think, his group more than it is anything else. Which means that the next head to roll, if one must roll, will be his.
On Berry, he becomes just the second general manager currently in the NFL to be a minority. Much has been made about the stark lack of diversity among NFL head coaches, but the disparity is even more dramatic in key front office positions, which is why it’s been talked about to expand the Rooney Rule into that domain even further.
At 32, he is also the youngest general manager in NFL history, as far as is known. He is widely respected around the league, and his name has been on the shortlist for promotions for a while now, but he has risen as quickly as anybody else has before.
“I’m honored and blessed to lead the Football Operations of the Cleveland Browns“, Berry said via the team’s website. “I’m appreciative of the Haslam family for entrusting me to be a steward of a franchise that is so rich in tradition and history. The passion for football courses through the veins of Northeast Ohio in a manner that is unique to that of any other region”.
“I am excited to partner with Kevin Stefanski—a coach I know our city will embrace because of his leadership skills, work ethic, humility and character—to work tirelessly and with immediate urgency toward building a winning organization that will make the people of Cleveland proud”, he went on.