Clark: I Didn't Feel Good About My Role

David Carducci looks at some of the reasons behind Dwight Clark's exit and what the future might hold for the Browns' departed General Manager. Clark offers some of the reasons for his unsurprising departure, and offers a glimpse of what was happening behind the scenes.

CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Browns continue to evolve and streamline their front office into what they hope will be a championship caliber organization in the very near future.

It started after their expansion season of 1999 when then-coach Chris Palmer dismissed assistants like defensive coordinator Bob Slowik - coaches who didn't fit the mold of what Palmer wanted in his coaching staff, but who were simply the best available when new the new Browns were given just a few months to assemble a franchise from scratch.

It continued a year later when president Carmen Policy fired Palmer - a scapegoat coach who was not the Browns' first choice, and who never quite fit the mold Policy wanted to coach his team.

Now its Dwight Clark who is out as the Browns director of football operations, and it is an organizational change that everyone from the fans, to the coaches, to the team's front-office personnel saw coming for quite some time.

If you believe Clark and Policy, second-year coach Butch Davis really wanted Clark to stay on. That might be true, but like Slowik was to Palmer and like Palmer was to Policy, Clark never quite fit what Davis wanted in his director of football operations. The reason - Clark already had a right-hand man.

When Davis left the University of Miami to come to Cleveland, he brought Pete Garcia with him to serve as his chief advisor - a role that in the Browns' organizational structure should have been filled by Clark. Garcia's presence made Clark feel unimportant.

Clark admitted that Garcia's role and influence in the new organizational structure was a major reason for Monday's announcement that he was leaving the Browns.

"I didn't feel good about my role with the team," said Clark. "I'm not mad at anybody ... The way our system was set up, you want your football operations department and director to (advise) the head coach, get him anything he needs, advise, give educated information and guesses as to what we think will happen (with player procurement). Do we like a player or not?"

When Davis was hired as coach, he took a more prominent role in player evaluation than Palmer had taken. When he needed to call on an adviser or when he had an important task to assign, Davis rarely called on Clark.

"Butch kind of brought in his own guy to do that," said Clark

That caused some friction in the halls of the Browns' Berea complex.

"There were things going on in the building that got past me and got past Carmen," said Clark. "Things were showing up in the paper with Carmen not knowing anything about them. We rectified that situation so that Carmen was aware of anything that happened, but still Butch had his right-hand man who had been with him for seven years (in Miami) and who he trusted. That doesn't mean he doesn't trust me or want me. He just already had his right-hand man, and I understand that. It doesn't work for me to be here when Butch already has his right-hand man."

Clark was told he the organization would further change the structure of its personnel  department in 2002. "That would have diminished my role for sure," he said.

While it may not have been the final straw, the dumping of chief pro scout Keith Kidd added to Clark's disillusionment with the Browns.

Clark said he is excited about the idea of taking on a new challenge. Unfortunately, he has no idea what the next challenge might be. His agent, Marvin Demoff, will soon start inquiring around the NFL to see if there are any teams interested in adding Clark to their front office. One potential new home is Atlanta, where the Falcons find themselves without a general manager.

Another option for Clark is the broadcast booth.

"For now I'm going to sit back for a few days and let the dust settle, let Marvin start making calls and see what happens after that," said Clark.

The OBR Top Stories