Garcia plays big role

When the final seconds ticked off on the Browns' 23-14 win over Jacksonville last Sunday, there was a moment of male bonding on the sideline at Alltel Stadium that couldn't help but be noticed.

There was Butch Davis, taking off his headsets (a coach's equivalent to a quarterback kneeling in the victory position) and a wide smile creasing his face. As he turned to his right, Pete Garcia embraced him with a bear hug.

If you didn't know it then, you knew after watching the warm embrace that those two men are running the show for the Browns.

McCartney had Lennon. Garfunkel had Simon. Davis has Garcia.

When Davis sat before the assembled media last Jan. 30 to be introduced as the Browns' coach, not far to his left sat Garcia, who served as director of football operation for Davis at the University of Miami. It was obvious that when Carmen Policy and Al Lerner pried Davis away from Miami, they got a package deal.

One part of the deal is Davis, the man who makes the key personnel decisions and runs the show on the field. The other part is Garcia, who works behind the scenes to uncover talent and make Davis' job easier.

From his days at Miami, Garcia has packed a ton of information in his head about the college game. It was Garcia who tracked the post-high school career of running back Ben Gay. While Gay slipped off the radar screen of many scouts, Garcia kept him within his sights.

Garcia's official title is assistant coach/football development, which doesn't accurately describe his role within the organization. He is Davis' closest confidante. He will be as important to the team's future as anyone, with the exception of Davis.

Evidence of Garcia's increasing role can be seen on the practice field. With each passing week, Garcia seems to make his presence known more and more as the players go through their preparations for the next game.

When defensive tackle Gerard Warren walked off the field after Thursday's practice to answer questions from the media about his $35,000 fine for leveling Mark Brunell, Garcia was with him stride for stride. No one knew what Garcia was saying to Warren, but you had the feeling he was advising the rookie on how to answer the few questions the Browns allowed reporters to ask.

For Garcia to play a prominent role in what was the big story of the week spoke volumes. It also makes you wonder where football operations director Dwight Clark fits into the big picture.

Clark wielded quite a bit of power in the first two years, although Policy said that former coach Chris Palmer was the final voice in most decisions. It now seems as if Clark's power has been reduced by the presence of Davis and Garcia.

Clark was asked earlier this year if he had any concerns about his job security. Always honest in his responses, he said, "Everybody knows I'm Carmen's guy."

With that in mind, it would seem that Clark has a spot in the organization as long as he wants it. If anything, Davis and Garcia serve as buffers from fan criticism for Clark. If the team struggles, he won't be looked at as the culprit.

But is that the way Clark wants to go about his job? Probably not. He admits that he still has some of the player in him, which means he's competitive to the bone. You can be sure that he'd like to be the one making the final calls; he'd like to be the one Davis turns to each time he needs an answer.

I'm not sure that's the case with Garcia on the premises in Berea.

The OBR Top Stories