Photo by Jen Nawalenic
Bobby Vega remembers the day that he received a call from the Cleveland Browns offering him a job as an in-house scout for professional and college players. It was the same day the communications major and former Scots linebacker graduated from Wooster. “It made my day,” he remembers.
Four seasons later, Vega was promoted to scout for the southeastern United States, where he identifies promising players at colleges and universities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and Alabama —an area he describes as “saturated with talent.”
But talent must come with the right attitude, and Vega researches a player by interviewing folks who know him and by observing him in game tapes and at practices. “Who does he hang out with? Is he a homebody or a partier? I assess how accountable he is, his level of toughness, what kind of leader he is. Is he motivated by people or is he self-motivated? How well does he learn? How important is the game to him? Is he passionate about football?”
The best way to catch players “being themselves,” says Vega is to observe a practice when the players don’t know he’s there. “If the guy is joking around so much that he’s a distraction, he’s not what we’re looking for.”
In order for him to be able to evaluate which players are best suited for the Browns, Vega says it is important for him to know the strengths and weaknesses of the team. But with the NFL lockout this year, his job has been more difficult. The day he talked to Wooster magazine in mid-July was the first day players were allowed back into the building. “We have new players, new coaches, new everything,” says Vega. “We’re more than 130 days behind schedule.”
One of nine scouts, Vega identifies approximately 350 players with potential every season. When 140 top candidates are brought to Cleveland for final tryouts, the scouts assist the coaches, who make final decisions.
The Browns have not played a league championship since 1970 and are one of only four teams of the NFL’s 32 teams that have never played a Super Bowl. But fans don’t care. With 94,208 members, Browns Backers Worldwide (BBW) is considered the largest sports-fan organization in the country.
And the city of Cleveland, says Vega, loves its team. He has no doubt that one day they’ll reach their ultimate goal. “And when that happens, this town is going to explode. It’s going to be a sight to see.”
This profile appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of Wooster magazine.
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