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Trey Brown having a blast building from scratch in AAF

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The casual football fan might recognize Trey Brown from the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 commercials a few years ago.

Brown is fine with that, of course, but there is much more to the former New England Patriots scout and former Philadelphia Eagles director of college scouting than what was seen on TV.

Now serving as the executive vice president of football operations of the Birmingham Iron in the Alliance of American Football, Brown prefers to be known for his football acumen as opposed to his acting skills.

"Hopefully, the wins that we get will cast myself in a light rather than the commercial because I'm not an actor -- I don't know what I'm doing, I just hit things on the fly," Brown said with a chuckle during a telephone interview with "But it was definitely a wonderful experience."

If people outside of the AAF and NFL inner circles aren't fully aware of him, they definitely should consider monitoring Brown closely as he rides a fast career track.

The native of Overland Park, Kan. turned 34 on March 1 and he is the son of former NFL running back Theotis Brown. The young personnel executive also had a short stint in the NFL as a cornerback with the Chicago Bears in 2008 and played for the New York Sentinels of the United Football League in 2009.

With his playing career over, Brown transitioned to player personnel as an area scout with the Patriots, where he spent three seasons (2010-12). He then moved on to the Eagles and held positions as an area scout, assistant director of college scouting and director of college scouting from 2013 to June 2018.

Those positions landed Brown in the spotlight and he eventually secured interviews for two NFL general manager positions: the Buffalo Bills in May 2017 and Oakland Raiders in December 2018.

He has an eye for talent and making personnel decisions, both of which he developed from his time in the NFL.

"I've just been fortunate to be around a lot of great people in personnel and a lot of great football minds just being able to soak up a lot of knowledge," Brown said. "Obviously, I started my career in personnel with the New England Patriots and what a great system and a great organization to learn from and start your career with.

"I think just me starting there made it a lot easier to gain knowledge in the scouting community, but also apply the stuff I learned once I left there. My time in Philadelphia, it might be a different building, but at the same time at the end of the day you're always looking for good players."

So, why the AAF given the success in the NFL?

Brown said it's a matter of working daily for an organization filled with passionate and like-minded people, such as Iron general manager Joe Pendry, head coach Tim Lewis and the rest of the coaching staff.

The Iron's executive vice president of football operations also sees his current position as a step in his personal and professional educational process as he fine tunes his skills as an evaluator and builder of rosters.

"For me, it was really growth development," Brown said. "I'm always somebody who wants to improve. I always want to look at a challenge and want to go after it, attack it.

"I think this gave me an opportunity to not only work with great people, but also do things that you probably wouldn't get a chance to do or get experience in the NFL mainly because those GM opportunities that you mention, when you walk into those jobs, you've got players already on the roster, guys that are under contract. When we took this thing in December, there were no players on the roster, so you're going from building everything from scratch, which is a unique opportunity, and you get a chance to gain some experience to learn."

Meanwhile, it might be fair to say nobody really knew what to expect when the AAF took off and the league would have a lot of curious eyes on it.

The pressure might very well be too much for some, but Brown saw a perfect opportunity to take a proverbial lump of clay and mold it.

More important for a man who doesn't hide his passion for what he does, Brown is having fun watching the Iron get off to a 3-2 start and the AAF enjoying early success.

"I'm having a blast and I think when you think about those challenges, those challenges always have to excite you when you go and attack those things," he said. "I think that's one of the things when you sit back and look at it, watch the games down, watch the whole league unfold, there were so many people that were involved in getting this thing started and keeping this thing going, that's exciting, as well.

"So, when you sit back and watch it, just a couple of months ago we had zero players and now we got full defenses, full offenses, full special teams players, guys running around making hits, making interceptions, making touchdowns. I mean, how exciting is that?"


Orlando Apollos head coach Steve Spurrier knows the NFL talent evaluators are closely monitoring the Alliance of American Football as the league hits the midpoint of the regular season.

Spurrier's 5-0 squad certainly contains plenty of talent, which includes the league's leading passer in Garrett Gilbert and the league's leading receiver in Charles Johnson.

The Apollos head coach, however, isn't worried if he has to start all over should any of his players get signed by an NFL team.

"We talk about it all the time," Spurrier told during his press conference following Week 5's 31-14 win over the Iron. "You're always interviewing, you're auditioning for a job in the big leagues.

"We said that at the beginning of the season. When this year is over, I hope 20 of them can go up to the big leagues and make 100 times more than what they're making now. That's what we hope happens, and if that happens, we'll find a bunch of other guys and hope it happens for them next year."

Last week's showdown between the Apollos and Iron drew scouts from four NFL teams, so it's hardly a secret NFL general managers aren't leaving any stone unturned in the never-ending search for talent.

The AAF also plays at a perfect time from an evaluation point of view. NFL teams are currently deep in pre-draft mode and the AAF's season ends in late April to coincide with the three-day weekend of the NFL Draft.

After the annual selection process, teams go about signing undrafted free agents to fill offseason rosters ahead of organized team activities and summer training camp. The AAF now provides a vast pool of players to consider and they possess bona fide game film at a time when draft prospects are typically working out in shorts.

"I think this is a very good opportunity for the NFL to take a look on what's out there and what's playing, and you're actually getting tape," Iron executive vice president Trey Brown told in a telephone interview. "I've been a big guy, a big believer in film study, and what better opportunity to get real film than the Alliance of American Football? Right now, you had the [NFL Scouting] Combine, you got private workouts and workouts, but most of the time those guys are not in shoulder pads and helmet during the spring time."

Brown's point on live action is exactly what Apollos cornerback Keith Reaser, who last played for the Kansas City Chiefs, hopes NFL teams takes notice of around the AAF.

He also has a message for potential suitors.

"Watch the film, man," Reaser told following Week 5's win where he recorded a pick-six. "I can play. I know teams need corners and I'd be tuned in every week to the games just watching it. So, that's my message if you need someone who can play, who can cover, tackle, press, play off, a guy who can do it all, football smart, all of that."

Meanwhile, Brown also echoed Spurrier's stance on potentially losing players to the NFL.

And like the man known as the Ole Ball Coach, Brown fully embraced potential losses because a driven competitor was precisely what the Iron desired on the roster when the league started.

"What we were looking for were guys that wanted to play for us, that were hungry for an opportunity, but also guys that wanted and believed they could be or competing to get back to or get their first opportunity for the NFL," Brown said. "We felt like that's going to drive our competition up on our roster, and guys that are basically all-in in terms of their commitment on getting to the next level, that's kind of what we looked for. So, on the same conversation, we'll be excited for guys that are going to get that next opportunity."


San Antonio Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside garnered AAF Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in a 29-25 win over the Arizona Hotshots. Woodside completed 21 of 27 passes for 290 yards with two touchdowns against an interception in the victory to help his team improve to 3-2 on the season and tie San Diego for first in the Western Conference.

San Diego Fleet cornerback Kameron Kelly was named the AAF Defensive Player of the Week following a dominant performance in a 27-25 win over the Salt Lake Stallions. Kelly established an AAF record with three interceptions, which included a pick-six, and totaled six tackles and four passes defensed. Kelly's production contributed to the Fleet's first-place 3-2 record.

Atlanta Legends kicker Younghoe Koo gathered AAF Special Teams Players of the Week honors after nailing three field goals in a 23-20 win over the Memphis Express. Koo's game-winning kick from 35 yards came with nine seconds remaining in the contest, as the Legends moved to 2-3 at the midpoint of the season.

Follow Herbie Teope on Twitter @HerbieTeope

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