Former Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta takes top role with Cleveland Browns

When Frank McCourt bought the Dodgers in 2004, his first major hire was the general manager, a 31-year-old whiz kid named Paul DePodesta.

McCourt fired him after two seasons, and DePodesta has not run another team since then. 

He left baseball entirely on Tuesday, when the NFL's Cleveland Browns hired him as chief strategy officer. His mandate, directly from owner Jimmy Haslam: Help the team make "optimal decisions," according to Haslam, with an emphasis on analytical evaluation.

DePodesta, who played football and baseball at Harvard, was not hired to run day-to-day football operations for the Browns. However, DePodesta will answer only to the team president and owner, the New York Post reported.

"His approach and ambition to find the best pathways for organizational success transcend one specific sport," Haslam said in a statement, "and his experience as a high level sports executive make him a terrific addition to the Cleveland Browns."

DePodesta had worked for the New York Mets since 2008, most recently as vice president of player development and amateur scouting. As the Mets played in the World Series in October, DePodesta told The Times he had been approached for about "half a dozen" general manager vacancies since leaving the Dodgers but agreed to an interview only once, then withdrew from consideration.

"It has never been about the title, especially after having it," DePodesta said then. "At some point, I aspired to that. I got there. Maybe it wasn't all I expected it to be.

"I took a step back and said, I wanted to do what I really enjoy. What I have here has been great. It satisfies what I'm looking for."

The Browns have not made the NFL playoffs since 2002, and they are widely viewed as one of the more dysfunctional franchises in American sports. That should not scare DePodesta, who was evaluated from afar by a Russian-born psychic -- at ownership's request -- during his time with the Dodgers.

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