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Heckert agrees to join Browns

By Marla Ridenour Published: January 10, 2010

The son of a former Browns scout will join a former Browns ball boy on the second floor of the team's Berea headquarters.

Philadelphia Eagles general manager Tom Heckert agreed to become the Browns' general manager Sunday, the Associated Press reported, citing a source familiar with the hiring.

Details of Heckert's contract have not been finalized, according to the AP.
Heckert will assume a position vacant since George Kokinis was relieved of his duties on Nov. 2.

Heckert, 42, will handle day-to-day operations, but new president Mike Holmgren will have final say ''on everything,'' as Holmgren disclosed on Dec. 28.

Coach Eric Mangini, who started out as a Browns' ball boy in 1994, could report to both Holmgren and Heckert, or to Heckert, although Holmgren said all will contribute in matters such as draft-day decisions.

Heckert's father Tom, a Youngstown native who received his masters from Kent State, was a scout for the Browns from 1982-86 while his son was attending high school in Adrian, Mich. Heckert Sr. spent 20 years in the NFL in player personnel and Heckert Jr. started out watching tape in his father's office.

Holmgren did not know the younger Heckert before he interviewed Wednesday, but Heckert came highly recommended by Eagles coach Andy Reid, who worked under Holmgren in Green Bay from 1992-98.

Reid said earlier this season that Heckert deserved a chance to be a general manager with another team. Reid holds the title of executive vice president of football operations and has final say over Philadelphia's 53-man roster. Heckert was in the final year of his contract, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Browns could not hire Heckert until the Eagles were eliminated from the playoffs. According to the Inquirer, Heckert did not attend Saturday night's 34-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. Howie Roseman, vice president of player personnel, is expected to assume Heckert's duties in Philadelphia.

Promoted to general manager in 2006, Heckert was a candidate for the Browns' GM job last year, but pulled his name out of consideration after Mangini was hired on Jan. 8.

Heckert has also interviewed for GM positions in Atlanta and Minnesota. He lost out to Thomas Dimitroff with the Falcons in 2008 and declined a job with the Vikings in 2006 after Brad Childress was chosen as coach.

Heckert was scheduled to interview for a top football position in Seattle, but withdrew from the Seahawks' search last week.

The Browns also interviewed Seattle's director of pro personnel Will Lewis, who could still come to Cleveland if he becomes a casualty of the Seahawks' shakeup in football operations, which includes the expected hiring of USC coach Pete Carroll.

Heckert has 18 years of NFL experience, including 10 in the Miami Dolphins personnel department. During his time in the league, Heckert's teams have had just one losing season, have won eight division titles and made the playoffs 13 times.

When he joined the Eagles in 2001, Heckert came highly recommended by former Dolphins coaches Don Shula and Jimmy Johnson.

"I had long talks with Don Shula and Jimmy Johnson about Tom," Reid told the Washington Post in 2001. "They're impressive guys, and they couldn't say enough good things about Tom Heckert."

According to the Eagles media guide, Johnson said when Heckert was hired, ''I told coach Reid if I were to come back as a head coach, Tom would be one of the first guys I'd try to hire.''

The Eagles won four NFC East titles, went to four NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl during Heckert's tenure in Philadelphia. Before he became general manager, his first draft in 2002 brought in future Pro Bowlers Brian Westbrook, Lito Sheppard, and Michael Lewis and cornerback Sheldon Brown.

According to the Inquirer, 14 of the Eagles' 22 starters against the Cowboys Saturday night were drafted since Heckert arrived and three others who were undrafted free agents were signed. Among the rookie free agents he discovered were safety Quintin MIkell, center Jamaal Jackson, defensive tackle Sam Rayburn, receiver Greg Lewis and linebacker Akeem Jordan.

Since 2003, Heckert has been part of the NFL's 12-person College Advisory Committee, which evaluates college juniors' draft status. In 2008, Heckert was appointed to the General Managers' Advisory Committee, which studied issues involving player development, scouting and technology.

Heckert played defensive back at Hillsdale College (Mich.) and spent two years there as an assistant coach before being hired by the Dolphins.

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