What makes the men who wear the Green Beret of the Special Forces so special? The NFL would like to find out, so they can find some special people of their own, and give them football helmets.
That’s why the Indianapolis Colts have hired former Army Green Beret, Brian Decker, a former Lieutenant Colonel who completely changed the way the Army goes about selecting men for the Special Forces. Under the old Army method, Special Forces prospects had to go through a severe three-week course, in which they were subject to all types of physical and mental exertions and discomforts.
However, under Decker’s new system, data was gathered on the candidate’s physical and mental makeup in an effort to find men who possessed intangible leadership characteristics and, specifically, men who didn’t just want to become Green Berets but wanted to become exceptional Green Berets.
Decker first found himself on the NFL’s radar in 2013, when then-Cleveland Browns General Manager Michael Lombardi visited Decker’s Special Forces camp in search of training tips. Lombardi liked the system and brought Decker to Browns camp to meet team CEO Joe Banner.
According to ESPN, “Banner hired Decker in February 2014, but he and Lombardi were fired before Decker’s first day of work. Decker spent the next two years in the Browns’ personnel department, adjusting his methodology to try to predict the character of college prospects. He was let go when GM Sashi Brown took over in January 2016.
“Lombardi, who had moved on to an executive position with the New England Patriots, arranged a meeting between Decker and Belichick at the 2016 combine. It lasted almost five hours, and Decker later gave a presentation before the Patriots’ entire coaching staff.”
Decker’s hiring has become a significant early hire for new Colts General Manager Chris Ballard, who, according to ESPN, made the move to hire Decker only ten days after making a personnel shakeup.
Decker also represents the continuation of a trend in the NFL, with more teams hiring “character coaches,” analysts who evaluate the character of players, instead of whether or not they can play.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn