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Hall of Famer Gil Brandt assesses Baker Mayfield, two former Browns QBs

Hall of Famer Gil Brandt assesses Baker Mayfield, two former Browns QBs

06/04/2019
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Courtesy of IndeOnline

Gil Brandt’s membership in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019 certifies him as one of the brightest player pickers the sport has known.

In a swing through the Hall on Monday, Brandt shared some fun observations about a few QBs picked by the Cleveland Browns over the years.

First, Brandt touched on Baker Mayfield.

“I’ve know him since he was a high school kid in Austin,” said Brandt, who was a main architect of the Dallas Cowboys when they were ‘America’s Team.’ “I know his brother was a good baseball player. I know Baker started out at Texas Tech and then left after a year.”

During Mayfield’s search for a team to replace Tech, Oklahoma’s then-head coach, Bob Stoops, called Brandt for an opinion.

“Stoops said, ‘Gil, what’s wrong with this guy? I can’t believe he’s on the market,’” Brandt said.

Brandt said Mayfield at that point already had a trait that persuaded Browns GM John Dorsey to spend a No. 1 overall pick on him in 2018.

“Mayfield has a great ability to get the best out of the other 10 people on the field,” Brandt said.

Brandt’s heyday in a 39-year career as the Cowboys’ top personnel man lasted into the 1980s, when Dallas reached NFC title games three straight years (1980-82). He stocked rosters for four Cowboys teams that reached Super Bowls in the 1970s.

His last five years before Jerry Jones bought the team and fired him roughly coincided with the years when Bernie Kosar quarterbacked the Browns to three AFC titles within four years.

The Browns concocted a way to Kosar in the 1985 supplemental draft. He had become a hot item by leading the Miami Hurricanes to a national title.

Kosar played high school ball 60 miles from Cleveland, at Boardman. The head coaches of this region’s college powers, Earle Bruce (Ohio State) and Bo Schembechler (Michigan), knew Brandt and heard from him.

“Kosar’s an Ohio guy,” Brandt said. “I called Earle Bruce. I called Bo Schembechler. I said, ‘How in the heck did you guys let this guy get away?’ They said he was slower than molasses. They said he had poor feet. But he was so smart.”

Brandt admits picking quarterbacks is tricky business.

“Scouting them is really hard,” he said. “So much of it is finding that good one who is willing to put in the work. Peyton Manning was not the greatest quarterback if you just based it on physical traits, but he had an unbelievable work ethic that carried him throughout his career.”

The conversation turned to GOATs. If Brandt could draft any quarterback from any era, who would he pick? He hesitated. He knows everybody who’s anybody in football. He has plenty of good friends who are quarterbacks he wishes not to rile. But he answered the question.

“I guess you’ve got to take (Tom) Brady,” Brandt said. “But Otto Graham was pretty good.”

Brandt is among the few who would know partly from having watched Graham play. Graham led the Browns to league championship games every year from 1946 through 1955, when Brandt was 22 years old.

At the time, Brandt was getting his feet wet as a baby photographer. It’s a long story how he developed a career in football. That story will be told later this summer.

Brandt was sitting in a nice room inside the Hall of Fame when Saleem Choudhry, an executive at the museum, made some small talk.

“Is your speech coming along, Gil?” said Choudhry, alluding to this summer’s enshrinement.

Brandt was in town to drop off some artifacts and study the lay of the land. He kept a lot of people entertained, making sure it was a fun day.

He smiled and answered the question:

“I have to give a speech?”

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