Morocco Brown ’99 says the key to being a great player is to believe that you’re the world’s best. If you don’t, he says, you won’t be any good. And in the mid-1990s, Brown was one of the Wolfpack’s best linebackers, leading the team in tackles his sophomore and junior seasons. So naturally, he thought he’d take his greatness to the NFL.
But it would be a journey that would take place off the field.
After Brown’s senior season in 1998, he tried out with the Pittsburgh Steelers and even spent some time trying to make it in the Canadian Football League. When things didn’t work out, he returned to Raleigh to finish up his degree in parks, recreation and tourism management. He knew he wanted to work around football, so he accepted an internship as a scout with the Indianapolis Colts in 2000. That led him to a tenure with the Chicago Bears as the assistant director of pro personnel from 2001-07.
And now Brown is in his fifth season as the director of pro personnel for the Washington Redskins. He coordinates the advance scouting of opponents, participates in pre-draft meetings and evaluates free agents and trade prospects. It’s a job, he says, that holds a little more security than an NFL player. But he says it brings just as much pressure.
“I think you have the possibility of a longer shelf life with each team because your evaluation is over a longer period of time,” he says. “With that being said, there’s so much to be done during a day, you have to try to master the day. You’re also competing against the other teams trying to win. If somebody gets injured, it’s bang-bang. You have to know who the next guy up is.”
Brown’s number-one job is to know his own team. At the end of each season, he does an extensive scouting report on the Redskins. That helps him evaluate how the team and its needs have changed. He’s got to know all of the free agents that will be available in the offseason. That means knowing everything there is to know about the more than 550 free agents who can be signed in February 2013. It’s the cases he makes for those free agents he believes the Redskins should sign that brought the biggest adjustment from a player on the field to the front office.
“It takes some time, some years.” he says. “You have to get to the point where you master what you say and make it visible to the person you’re saying it to. Writing a report is like creating a new language. It’s not like you’re trying to win your case in the courtroom, but you do have to present your case. If you don’t believe it, no one else can.”
The annual April NFL draft is another event Brown has to prepare for, but he loves that part of his job. He likes that it’s all about projecting a new player who has not been tainted by contract talks and the desire to just sign for money. The players a team drafts, he says, are the ones who stay loyal to an organization.
Though the job takes away from time with his family — he and his wife, Kendra, have two sons and a daughter, who was born in June — it keeps him close to football. And like when he was a player for the Wolfpack, the job keeps him focused on the wins.
“At the core of who I am, I’m football,” he says. “It’s something I’m good at. It’s fulfilling to help out a team. And that comes down to ‘Ws.’ It’s a funny business. From week to week, your emotions just go up and down from wins to losses.”
Brown’s Redskins take on the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday in Week 6 of NFL action.