After nearly two decades, the Ravens will have a new team president.
Dick Cass will retire after 18 years with the organization and will be succeeded by former Cleveland Browns and Washington Wizards executive Sashi Brown, the team announced Friday.
Brown, 45, is expected to join the Ravens in March and officially take over for Cass on April 1, when he’ll join the Washington Commanders’ Jason Wright as the NFL’s only Black team presidents. Brown will assume the same responsibilities held by Cass, overseeing all business areas of the organization, including finances, budgeting, non-football personnel, corporate sales, operations, communications and business ventures. He is expected to join the Ravens in March.
Here’s what you need to know about the Ravens’ new team president:
He got his first NFL job with help from Cass.
After graduating from Hampton and then Harvard Law School, Brown started his career as an attorney in 2002 at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr in Washington, a firm run by Cass. While there, Brown represented clients in a variety of matters, including sports-related transactions, venture capital and private-equity deals, and mergers and acquisitions.
According to a 2016 NFL.com story, Cass recommended Brown for a job with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005. He spent eight years there as senior vice president and general counsel, working on both the football and business side of the franchise’s operations.
“He’s always had good judgement,” Cass told NFL.com when Brown was promoted to vice president of football operations in Cleveland. “He’s easy to get along with and he’s a consensus builder. Good temperament. Doesn’t fly off the handle. He’s well-suited for the Browns’ job, I think — all of those qualities will serve him well.”
Brown was originally hired by Cleveland in 2013 as executive vice president and general counsel, where he also served the franchise in both football and business capacities. He was responsible for overseeing the roster and salary cap and directing the team’s football administration functions, including negotiation of players contracts. On the business side, his duties included insurance and risk management, licensing and intellectual-property issues and litigation management.
His Cleveland tenure produced few wins, but big changes.
After Brown was promoted to executive vice president of football operations in 2016, Cleveland went 1-27 before he was fired in December 2017.
While the team struggled on the field, finishing with only the second 0-16 season in NFL history in 2017, Brown played a big role in helping reshape the team’s personnel. The Browns stockpiled picks and created more salary cap space than any team in the league. In 2018, Cleveland had the most draft capital of any team in the modern era, which dates to 1993.
Brown’s analytics-based approach drew comparisons to those of Sam Hinkie, the former Philadelphia 76ers general manager who accumulated picks and young talent while prioritizing the future over the present. Those draft picks eventually yielded talented young players such as quarterback Baker Mayfield, cornerback Denzel Ward, tight end David Njoku, defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi and defensive end Myles Garrett, a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Brown also reportedly wanted to hire coach Sean McDermott, now enjoying a successful tenure in Buffalo, over Hue Jackson, who went 3-36-1 in three seasons.
In the eight years before Brown was promoted, Cleveland went through five head coaches and five general managers and averaged fewer than five wins per season. In the four seasons since he was fired, it’s gone 32-32-1, clinched its first playoff appearance since 2002 and won its first playoff game since 1994.
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“[Sashi] definitely did a good job of getting the picks, getting the cap to where he got it to, to where you can go out and get any player you want,” safety Jabrill Peppers told The Ringer after being traded from the Browns to the New York Giants in 2019 for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. “It takes a lot of patience that I don’t think a lot of people have. But they are reaping the fruits of his labor now, even though they don’t want to attribute it to him. He definitely has a big part of what’s going on there.”
After leaving football, he took a job in basketball.
After one year out of sports, Brown was hired by Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis in 2019. For three years, Brown served as president of Monumental Basketball and as a special adviser to Leonsis at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, overseeing operations for the NBA’s Wizards, WNBA’s Mystics and NBA G League’s Capital City Go-Go.
Those duties included research and information systems, technology, equipment, communications, finance, facilities, security and player engagement. Brown also led Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s venue operations.
“I think I have a strong will,” Brown said when he was hired by Leonsis in 2019. “To keep proper perspective is critically important. These are privileges, not something everyone gets a chance to do. I was extremely lucky to even have the time that I did [in Cleveland].”
According to The Washington Post, Brown oversaw chief of athlete care and performance Daniel Medina and Mystics coach and general manager Mike Thibault. He and Mystics owner Sheila Johnson also represented Monumental at WNBA owners’ meetings.
Brown’s resignation comes less than three months after receiving a multiyear extension from Monumental.
A Boston native, Brown and his wife, Paige, live in Bethesda and have two sons, Robeson and Ellison, and a daughter, Zora.