Who Is Scott Pioli? And Is He THE (NEXT) ONE To Create “Real” Hope in Cleveland?

Can Scott Pioli Create New Hope in Cleveland?

(Photo Art by Midwest Sports Fans)

Who is Scott Pioli?

This is the question being bandied about today in cities like Cleveland and Detroit — where offseason housecleaning has already begun. In Cleveland, both GM Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel were fired, yesterday and earlier today, respectively. And as Waiting For Next Year points out, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski could be (or should be) next. In Detroit, head coach Rod Marinelli was canned after leading the Lions to the first 0-16 season in NFL history.

Scott Pioli Bio - Pioli to Interview with BrownsEnter Candidate #1 who will get the chance to lead the quest for a turnaround in both of these cities, and probably many others: Scott Pioli.

Before today, I did not even know what Scott Pioli looked like, although I have obviously heard his name quite often. As Vice President of Player Personnel with the New England Patriots, Pioli has been Bill Belichick’s right hand man in creating the Patriots dynasty of the 2000s. As you can tell from the picture above (and the original source photo to the right), I am obviously familiar with what Scott Pioli looks like now.

But again, I ask, who is Scott Pioli? Most football fans, like me I would presume, know the peripherals about Scott Pioli, but not a whole lot else. They know that he is a well respected front office decision maker, and that he has been a major part of the Patriots success, and that has name is this year’s IT name to be interviewed and eventually chosen to turn around some sad-sack, moribund franchise. Many fans are probably clamoring for their team to hire Scott Pioli based on name reputation and recognition alone. When I heard that the Cleveland Browns were interviewing Scott Pioli, I know that it got my heart racing a bit (and in a good way, not in the Derek-Anderson-dropping-back-to-pass-in-the-red-zone-OH-NO kind of way).

So, I decided to find out a little bit more about Scott Pioli. Who is this exalted genius that men like Randy Lerner are running to and begging to turn their franchises around?

(FYI…most of my information comes from Scott Pioli’s Wikipedia Page and the Scott Pioli Bio on the Patriots website.)

Pre-NFL Background

Scott Pioli was born in March of 1965, which makes him 43 years old as of this posting. He is a 1987 graduate of Central Connecticut State University, where he was a three-time Division II All-New England selection as a defensive tackle and graduated with a degree in communications. Pioli was inducted into the Central Connecticut State Hall of Fame in 2005.

Pioli got a Master’s degree at Syracuse University, where he also served as a graduate assistant on the football team. Following his stint at Syracuse, Pioli moved onto Murray State, where he was an offensive line coach and then a defensive line coach.

He is married to the former Dallas Parcells…yes, the daughter of one Mr. Bill Parcells, which means that Scott Pioli is the Big Tuna’s son-in-law. Scott Pioli and his wife Dallas have a daughter named Mia Costa. He also is active in a variety of non-profit organizations, including the College for Every Student Foundation, and he established the Rose Pioli Scholarship in the name of his grandmother to benefit children of educators, firefighters, policeman, and other emergency medical service providers.

Scott Pioli is also credited with the Creation of Man and served as a model for Michelangelo’s Sistene Chapel. Just kidding.

NFL Experience

Scott Pioli got his first NFL job in 1992, when Bill Belichick hired him to be a pro personnel assistant for the Cleveland Browns. This was, obviously, before Art Modell ripped out the soul of the city of Cleveland and moved the Browns to Balitmore. Interestingly, Belichick put Pioli in charge of college player evaluation and handling some player contracts, despite the fact that Pioli had no prior NFL experience. Belichick was fired by the franchise after moving to Baltimore, but Scott Pioli stayed on with the Ravens as Director of Pro Personnel.

In 1997, a year later, Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick were reunited in New York with the Jets. The move allowed Pioli to be closer to his hometown of Washingtonville, New York and also allowed him to work with Bill Parcells. At the time, BeScott Pioli and Bill Belichick Worked Together Beginning in Cleveland and in New England Since 2000lichick was an assistant to the Big Tuna. Pioli was the Director of Pro Personnel in New York, and then followed Belichick again in 2000 when Belichick was named head coach by the New England Patriots. Initially, Pioli was only the Assistant Director of Player Personnel in New England. He was soon thereafter promoted to Director of Player Personnel, and then promoted again in 2002 to his current position of Vice President of Player Personnel.

During their time together in New England, Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick have won three Super Bowl, titles, five AFC East championships, and been famously accused of taping opponents signals. Bill Belichick has taken most of the heat for that scandal, but it is safe to say that everyone who has worked closely with Belichick during the Patriots’ run at least has a little bit of the SpyGate stench attached to them.

Honors

Scott Pioli has to be one of the most decorated executives in the NFL. A quick rundown of the awards he has won during his time in New England:

  • 2001 NFL Executive of the Year by the Dallas Morning News
  • 2003 NFL Executive of the Year by Pro Football Weekly
  • 2003 George Young NFL Executive of the Year by The Sporting News
  • 2003 NFL Executive of the Year by Sports Illustrated
  • 2004 Executive Achievement Award by the NFL Players Association
  • 2004 Executive of the Year Award by the San Francisco Chronicle
  • 2004 George Young NFL Executive of the Year by The Sporting News
  • 2004 NFL Executive of the Year by Sports Illustrated
  • 2004 NFL Executive of the Year by USA Today
  • 2007 NFL Executive of the Year by the Dallas Morning News
  • 2007 NFL Executive of the Year by Pro Football Weekly
  • 2007 Executive of the Year Award by the San Francisco Chronicle

So apparently Scott Pioli is pretty damn good at his job. We all know about how Tom Brady was famously unearthed by the Patriots in the 6th round of the draft, but he is only one of a large handful of successful draft picks made by the Pioli-Belicheck combo. Others include Dan Koppen (5th round), Matt Light (2nd round), and Asante Samuel (4th round). Additionally, Pioli and Belichick have made good use of free agent signings by plucking Patriot stalwarts like Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel, and Larry Izzo. And, of course, they have made some pretty successful trades, including the deals that brought Randy Moss and Wes Welker to New England.

What does it all mean? Well, it certainly appears that the hype machine behind Scott Pioli has a hell of a lot of substance. Of course, until he has success apart from Bill Belichick, questions will remain. The hype machine around Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, and Eric Mangini was pretty intense too — and only Charlie Weis still has the job that he left New England to take, and very tenuously at that. The difference is that Scott Pioli is an executive, not a coach. And as we have seen through the amazing ability of the Patriots to maintain success through coaching and player departures, the strength of the organization is just that: the organization. There are a lot of people who wonder who good Bill Belichick would be without Scott Pioli.

The truth is that the two of them have proven to be a perfect fit, and deserve shared credit for the success of the New England Patriots. And this year is not the first year that Scott Pioli’s name has come up for other executive jobs around the NFL. The difference is that this seems to be the first year that a) the Patriots are not making a deep playoff run and b) that Pioli seems willing to interview for other jobs.Browns Owner Randy Lerner Will Interview Scott Pioli After Being Rebuffed by Bill Cowher

So can Scott Pioli be the next person charged with creating new hope in Cleveland? Obviously before that can be answered, he would have to accept the job first. But it appears quite certain that he will have an opportunity to ply his trade in Cleveland if he wants to. Randy Lerner had hoped to lure Bill Cowher out of retirement, but Lerner’s overtured were rebuffed by The Chin this weekend. That leaves Scott Pioli as one of the two A-list candidates that Randy Lerner hopes to have in Berea next season. And as reported on the Plain-Dealer earlier today, the Patriots have granted Scott Pioli permission to interview with Lerner for the opening with the Browns.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that if Scott Pioli is the choice as the next executive decision-maker for the Browns, that he would want to bring offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels with him. I read in the Plain-Dealer that Randy Lerner was intrigued by the possibility of Eric Mangini, but as Mike Florio at PFT pointed out earlier today, Mangini likely burned any bridges with Scott Pioli when Mangini turned in Belichick for cheating — the beginning of SpyGate last year.

Before we start talking about coaches though, we will have to see if Randy Lerner can convince Scott Pioli to leave what he has helped build with Bill Belichick in New England for the chance to build something on his own in Cleveland. Lerner will no doubt open up his check book and allow Pioli to name his price, but Lerner will also likely have to explain to Pioli why he should take control of a franchise that seems to have been cursed upon being reinstated into the NFL. The Patriots have build one of the most successful winning machines in the history of the NFL, and during a time when the rules make it harder and harder to consistently dominate. In Cleveland, Scott Pioli would be charged with overturning a decade of futility since the team’s return, and bringing winning back to a city that is always expecting the worst — and always seeming to be on the look out for “next year.”

One thing is for sure: a new era of Cleveland Browns football is nigh. The tandem of Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel were given four years to prove that they could turn things around in Cleveland. Despite the unexpected excitement of 2007 and the promise of 2008, the Savage-Crennel combo was never able to get the Browns over the hump; and in fact, they presided over a precipitous tumble in both record and reputation during this 2008 Season of Disappointment.

Cleveland Browns fans, as usual, are thirsting for legitimate hope and for leadership that can restore the franchise to its Jim Brown-era glory. Hell, any Cleveland fan would take the oh-so-close frustration of the 1980s over the putrBrowns Fans Are Hoping Scott Pioli Can Create Renewed Hope in Clevelandidity that has defined the current decade. The cupboard is not bare either. The Browns have talent in their organization, but they lack a winning attitude and a consistent roadmap for success.

If Scott Pioli can come in and continue to upgrade the roster, hire a coach who can instill a winning attitude and a winning gameplan, and chart a course the franchise can follow for year-in, year-out success, he will become a legend in a city that lives and dies with its football team.

First, though, he has to take the job. So before we start talking about how Scott Pioli can be successful, Browns fans must hope that Randy Lerner can be successful in persuading Scott Pioli to come to Cleveland. If Randy Lerner can convince Scott Pioli to do so, then perhaps Pioli can be the one to restore hope and glory to the city of Cleveland.

An impatient nation of Browns Backers awaits his decision.

Do you believe that Scott Pioli can make the Cleveland Browns a consistent winner again?

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About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.

Comments

  1. As a quick addendum to this story, Mary Cay Cabot reported in the Plain-Dealer that Pioli could be talking with the Browns as soon as today. Also, he has twice had permission granted in the past by the Patriots for other jobs. The Seahawks offered him 5 years, $15 mil in 2005 without even interviewing him, but Pioli turned it down.

    Go get him Lerner, and let the healing begin in Cleveland…

  2. Pretty short sighted of you to write this post and put Belichick’s ex-coaches (Weis/Crennel) but not put their personell guys in there. The guy that is running the Falcons football ops now Tom Dimitroff is an ex-Pioli guy.

    • @Bob futon,

      GREAT call. I was actually discussing that with someone last night and meant to add it. Tom Dimitroff has done an outstanding job in Atlanta, which certainly is a positive sign for Pioli’s potential.

  3. Midnight Writer says:

    Jrod,

    I am also excited about the possibility of Pioli — but like you hinted at, the dynamic duo of Belichick and Pioli as worked well in New England.

    But what if it is Pioli who is good because of Belichick. The Browns thought Crennel would be good because of the Belichick tree. And what about Charlie Weis, has he fallen far from the Belichick tree at Notre Dame.

    There are critics who argue that without Belichick these men’s achievements are diminished.

    I mean Romeo Crennel was the Patriots defensive coordinator. Yet, the Browns ended the 2008 season with one of the poorest rated defenses in the NFL.

    Plus, Piolo is likely to coose Josh McDaniel as his head coach. I like the idea especially because of McDaniel’s success with quarterbacks (can you spell Brady Quinn?)

    But if this took place, once again the Browns would have a first-time general manager and a first-time head coach together.

    I, myself, don’t have a problem with it, but other local sports talk show hosts say two newbies will have a learning curve ahead of them, so to speak.

    But no one can deny that Pioli has better people skills than Phil Savage (Ya’ think?)

    And look what Baltimore has done for its rookie coach, John Harbaugh.

    The problem is Browns fans want a Super Bowl win by 2010 — and I don’t even know if God Almighty and the Great Browns now in Heaven could pull it off that soon.

    • @Midnight Writer,

      Obviously, I was initially concerned that Pioli may be a product of the Patriots system. But as Bob pointed out above, Tom Dimitroff left New England before this season for Altanta…and he’s done pretty well.

      So perhaps the post-Belichick struggles are just for coaches. We won’t know until Pioli gets out there on his own and Dimitroff proves he can build a consistent winner in Atlanta. But I’d have to say that the early returns are good.

  4. Nice post, Jerod. Pioli’s looks to be about as solid as we could hope for, but what makes us think we can get him to Cleveland given how firmly rooted he seems to be in on the East Coast?

    • @Cleveland Frowns, thanks for the comment.

      I think it’s all about opportunity. You don’t become as successful as Pioli has been in New England without some ego and pride fueling your fire. And as long as Pioli is in NE, he can rack up as many Exec of the Year awards as he wants, but Belichick will get most of the credit for their success.

      The two have had a great run together, but at some point you have to think that Pioli would want to run his own show and put his personal stamp on an organization. Can you imagine if he comes to Cleveland and can turn the franchise around? As fervent as the Browns fans are, and as starved as they are for winner, Pioli would be viewed like some sort of deity. That opportunity has to be enticing, not to mention the boatload of cash he will get.

      Obviously I don’t know what makes Scott Pioli tick, but I would think that if Randy Lerner can make an effective appeal to ego/pride, and open up the checkbook bigtime, he can break Pioli’s East Coast bonds. Plus, in NE, when will Pioli have a chance to pick a head coach? In Cleveland he would be able to do so immediately and give someone like Kirk Ferentz or Josh McDaniels a huge break, just like Belichick helped him before. That could be another appeal.

      If I were Scott Pioli, it would be hard to leave New England. But for the chance to me “the man” and have final decision-making power, I think it’s an opportunity that might be too great to pass up.

      I sure as hell hope so at least.

  5. Midnight Writer says:

    Dear Cleveland Frowns,

    Good moniker for you!

    Greater Cleveland is one of the nicest places to work and raise a family.

    Perhaps the most affordable housing, little traffic compared to the east coast and lots of things to do in winter as well as summer. The music scene ain’t bad, either.

    Plus, Randy Lerner will open up his checkbook to the new general manager and coach.

    The latest hot coach candidate out there is Mike Shanahan, who unbelievably, was fired by the Denver Broncos organization.

    I like a Pioli/Shanahan match up the best so far: Pioli for his personnel expertise and Shanahan, a motivator, a no-nonsense guy, also with Super Bowl experience.

    The only thing is, who will introduce the Cleveland Browns new general manager and coach?

    With Randy Lerner shunning any interviews with modern media equipment (video or audio), reporters and sports talk hosts have had access to Lerner by invitation only and armed with notebook and pens, only. All recording devices and cameras have been banned.

    So fans read about the Lerner interview from Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer, or heard about it on sports radio shows.

    The current spokesmen for the Browns happen to be none other than Brady Quinn and Joe Thomas.

    These two players, albeit key players in the Browns organization, took questions from the media on the firing of both Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel, and speculated on the new candidates. (Their answers were very P.R.)

    It would be absurd to consider Brett Favre the spokesman of the New York Jets regarding the firing of Eric Mangini.

    If Lerner refuses to go before the cameras, how will the Cleveland Browns new hires be introduced?

    Will Quinn and Thomas introduce them to the media? Will they hold their own press conferences and announce the hiring of each other? (“Here is Mike. Well, thank you Scott”).

    My advice to Randy Lerner is: If you do not like to face the cameras and address the public, get over it.

    This time the Browns need to get it right. Let’s start out on the right foot. Why not make a New Year’s resolution to overcome whatever fear you have of speaking in public.

    And may the year 2009 rally be the Season of Hope for the Cleveland Browns.

    • @Midnight Writer,

      Good points about Randy Lerner. I know he likes to stay in the background, which can have its benefits (right Jerry Jones?) if he hires the right people. But right now, with now coach and GM, it would be nice for him to say hi to the Browns fans and articulate some sort of plan. Maybe that’s just not him — but maybe it needs to be, considering he owns the team and all.

      I sure hope 2009 can be legitimately called a Season of Hope. If we hire Pioli, I will be excited. If Mangini is part of the package though, while I’d be happy to eat crow about it later, I would have a real hard time being hopeful about next year.

      Have I mentioned yet that I don’t like Mangini?

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