Articles

This former Green Beret wants to fix the NFL

Green Beret Lt. Col. Brian Decker led a unit in Iraq. Then he was assigned to run the Special Forces Assessment and Selection program in North Carolina. He decided to improve the Army's selection process and reduce the washout rate for men who made it through the initial screening.


Decker wanted to develop tools that would allow the Army to identify soldiers who could make good decisions in chaotic situations and have the necessary devotion to teamwork. He overhauled a process that had been static since its launch in 1988 and introduced new standards that collected over 1,200 data points on each candidate, including physical and mental processes. After three years, Decker's program had reduced the washout rate by 30%.

He met former Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski when the coach came to a Special Forces camp looking for training tips. That turned into an reciprocal invite to Browns camp. Team president Joe Banner was fascinated by Decker's philosophy and convinced him to retire from the Army and join the team as a special advisor, in hopes that Decker's analysis could help correct the NFL's notorious 50% failure rate for first round draft picks.

Decker ran the Special Forces Assessment and Selection program in North Carolina. | Ricky Rhodes

He kept the job even after the Browns fired that management team. Their successors kept him on and he spent a couple of years advising the team on its draft. How did that turn out?

ESPN.com's Seth Wickersham tells Decker's story in a 3600-word profile that details Decker's career and investigates how his football project has been going. It's definitely worth a read.   

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