After just one weekend of training camp, Browns Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Sashi Brown, has called a 7:00 AM meeting with his top brass to address roster issues. In a late rambling text Sunday night text, he has made it clear that depth is a concern of both himself and Head Coach Hue Jackson, as well as the team’s owners, Jimmy and Dee Haslem. We join the sole occupant of the team offices at 5:45 AM as he frustratingly prepares for the emergency scouting review session.
Paul DePodesta: [pounding top of copy machine] PC Load Letter? What the fuck does that even mean? [stares at the unit before kicking it and walking back to his desk where he scribbles on a notepad.] A Cannon 4100, you’ve got to be kidding me. There is, literally, nothing in this organization that does not need an overhaul.
DePodesta begins typing at his computer and his frustration is visibly lifted. He thumbs through scouting reports pulled from his desk’s inbox, skimming relevant data, and inputting it into a multi-tabbed spreadsheet on his computer. After about 10 minutes of silent data entry, he whips his finger on the Enter key and leans back in his chair. Seeping a bag of tea in his New York Metropolitans coffee cup, he passively eyes the computer as the compiling program flashes open and closes the data and report windows, running hundreds of thousands of complex calculations as a progress bar drags across the top of the screen.
DePodesta: Jeeze, Hue, you scared me there. I didn’t know anyone else was in the building.
Jackson: Seems like you don’t know much if it’s not on your little computer there.
DePodesta: Christ, Hue, it’s too early to have this conversation. We’ve got a meeting in a couple hours and, like it not, I’ve got 70 percent of the input, your boys have 30. You can run it by Sashi if you want but you knew when you took this job that you weren’t in Raider Country where —
Jackson: Nation. Raider Nation.
DePodesta: Whatever state of the Raider franchise, where emotions and gut instinct rule decision-making.
Jackson: [steps in the office and pulls himself a seat] Relax Paulie. I’m just here to coach the guys we have. Who they are is up to you. But, judging by Sashi’s text, I hope you got some more guys in that little box of yours.
DePodesta: [peers at computer screen, grinning] Hue, not only does this baby generate the next man up; it finds them and schedules them to arrive at the earliest possible convenience. And [presses a button on his desk and a buzz is heard down the hall in the vacant facility] this morning, that time is now.
Jackson: [cautiously impressed] So who is it? Walter Thurmond? Dwight Freeney? Leon Hall? Oh wait, let me guess, the numbers say we should bring in Greg Hardy on a veterans minimum and —
DePodesta: [holds up finger and shushes Jackson as he stares at the screen, occasionally clicking or scrolling his mouse] I don’t actually have that much familiarity with this talent. I guess, well, hmmm….you know, this is why we trust the process.
Jackson: What the hell does that mean? Where did he play before?
DePodesta: Ummmm, well. Definitely a small school performer. A little on the older side maybe but —
Jackson: That’s not bad. We got a lot of youth and some veteran leadership could be advantageous for our locker room chemistry.
DePodesta: I, uh….no, this is all correct. I thought it might be on the back end but all the algorithms and analytics devices are operational without fault so….
Jackson: So…..? What exactly?
— [Door Flies Open] —
Hillary Clinton: Good morning gentlemen. I hear you asked to see me before you have an early morning staff meeting. Mondays, am I right?
Jackson: Actually, I thrive on the 24/7 work environment that the NFL season provides. Every moment is an opportunity to get better over the next five or six months. Clinton: I agree! It’s like I always say, Mondays are for fresh starts!
DePodesta: Thank you for coming in on such short notice. As I mentioned in our email, we are among the teams looking to shore up our defensive talents over the next month and, oh, I see you just came from Philadelphia. What did you think of the operation Roseman and Pederson have set up over there?
Clinton: Well, I’ve met leaders around the globe and across all industry. What they are doing there is definitely something that needs to be supported in order to improve the lives OF THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA!
DePodesta: Just curious. Howie and I go back to our early days as lawyers actually. I kind of think of the guy as a prick but, you know, time has passed since we argued against each other and people are different outside the courtroom so I’m sure he’s a great guy but I was just curious about your impression there.
Clinton: Well, [leans in and cups a hand to shield the side of her mouth exposed to Jackson] let’s just say that, if funding to Israel somehow got cut, I’m not taking Roseman’s calls about the issue [leans back, drops hand, and winks].
Jackson: Wait, this is who your computer program came up with? Ma’am, have you even played football before?
Clinton: Sir, I have been a fighter and a fan of football my entire life. I have either attended in person or watched in the company of our troops overseas in battle zones, all 64 Super Bowl match ups. Now, granted, I am not a natural athlete but anyone who battles with me in the trenches knows that I am always focused on incremental gains and gaining the first down, not just hitting the home run ball on the first kickoff of the game.
Jackson: Paul, you can’t be serious.
DePodesta: [clicking around the computer program] Everything is right. Look, we knew things were going to have to go a new direction here and there would be some moments of shock or second-guessing. We just need to be wise to not act on those moments of insecurity.
Clinton: Man, don’t even get me started on security.
DePodesta: How is your health? I see here you had an off field accident where you fell? Is that correct. I think this note says it was on an airplane?
Clinton: Sniper fire. It was misreported. Smear campaign trying to lower to my value. But, you know what, it’s not about money with me. It’s about the people of Ohio. I want to bring them pride and make them FEEL GOOD ABOUT LIVING HERE AGAIN!
Jackson: Well, the college team is an elite program and the Bengals have made the playoffs for six of the last seven years. There is no shortage of good football for the people of Ohio, not to mention the Cavaliers just won the NBA championship. It sounds crass to say but, for the Browns, we need to be playing for ourselves.
Clinton: That’s what I like to hear. Who’s got the big bucks to spend? This Haslem cat? Then that’s who I’m playing for. He owns those truck stops? How about this then; if I earn my opening day roster bonus of $15,000, I think Mr Haslem will see 1,400 miles of new interstate construction over the next decade in which he’ll have options on all premium off-ramp refueling sites.
DePodesta: Well, actually, I think Coach Jackson meant playing for the other men in the locker room. Comradery and brotherhood will need to inspire this team where youth and a lack of culture are sorely missing.
Clinton: I will be the first woman to ever be a part of NFL football.
Jackson: There are some lady members of coaching staffs and a woman referee who, actually, didn’t do a bad job last season in her first year.
Clinton: Of course not. We chicks need to stand together. Bet you never see Sarah Thomas throw a flag on me.
DePodesta: We can cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, head on down to the player facilities and get in touch with the equipment manager to get your helmet.
Clinton: I graciously accept your invitation to pander to — err — play for THE PEOPLE OF OHIO. See you guys at practice. [walks towards doorway and peers back into the room before exiting] Try not to cut your feet on all the broken glass from that ceiling I just shattered.
Jackson: Those are from Robert’s knee. You’ll be fine. Just wear shoes and wrap your hands before drills.
DePodesta: Hey Hue. Before you leave, I wanted to ask you about another player we have at the top of our boards.
Jackson: A real player?
DePodesta: Yes, a former Brown in fact. Johnny Manziel. It says here that you had him released in January. What’s that about?
Jackson: Are you serious? You were a part of that!
DePodesta: I don’t see it in the player profile. I’m concerned that you and Sashi are making unauthorized personnel moves. And, if that’s the case, I’ll need to talk to Mr Haslem about it. In the mean time, I’m going to start tracking this Manziel guy down. Looks like he has a ton of potential.
Telephonic Voice: Da, Comrade Trump. We have infiltrated Mr DePodesta’s private program and delivered the lamb to the factory…..Da….Da……Da, da. After the next hack we will install code to bring in and, ahhh, as you say, unleash the kraken?…Da, and then, da, yes, then you will be only a futon away from the race being only yours.