It’s a sad day in the football world as it was announced on Monday morning that former Broncos, Browns and Eagles front office executive Tom Heckert passed away at the age of 51.
Heckert stepped away from his position with the Denver Broncos after this past season when he was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a rare and serious blood disease. Reports have said Heckert passed away quietly surrounded by his family.
He spent 26 years in the National Football League, beginning his career in 1991 as a scout for the Miami Dolphins where he spent ten years in the organization working his way up to director of pro personnel.
In 2001, he moved to the Philadelphia Eagles in the same director of pro personnel position. He was promoted to vice president of pro personnel in 2003 and by 2006 he was promoted to general manager of the Eagles however was underneath head coach Andy Reid in terms of final say in football operations.
During Heckert’s tenure in Philadelphia, the Eagles went to four straight NFC championships and in 2004, the Eagles appeared in Super Bowl XXXIX where they lost to the New England Patriots.
Heckert was named the general manager of the Cleveland Browns in January of 2010 after Mike Holmgren was named team president. He spent three seasons in the role of general manager and helped transform the roster that Eric Mangini, who was the head coach at the time had built.
He overseen the draft during his three seasons with the Browns and was responsible for selecting these future Pro Bowl players
- CB Joe Haden (1st round pick in 2010)
- SS TJ Ward (2nd round pick in 2010)
- TE Jordan Cameron (4th round pick in 2011)
- WR Josh Gordon (2nd round supplemental pick in 2012)
- OT Mitchell Schwartz (2nd round pick in 2012)
- FS Tashaun Gipson (undrafted in 2012)
He also drafted players such as Jabaal Sheard, Colt McCoy, Shaun Lauvao, Buster Skrine, John Hughes and Travis Benjamin who are still on NFL rosters.
Heckert will also unfortunately be tied to two draft blunders during his Browns tenure.
Trading the sixth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft to the Atlanta Falcons who drafted Julio Jones for a package of draft picks who became Phil Taylor, Greg Little, Owen Marecic and the 2012 first round pick that became Brandon Weeden.
Weeden was part of the 2012 first round that the Browns also moved up from the fourth overall pick to the third overall pick to draft Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Both Richardson and Weeden wouldn’t last past two seasons in Cleveland before being either traded or released.
Heckert was fired along with head coach Pat Shurmur following the 2012 season when Jimmy Haslam along with CEO Joe Banner decided to take the organization in a new direction.
He joined the Denver Broncos front office in 2013 and was part of run that included two AFC championships as well as the Super Bowl 50 victory of the Carolina Panthers.
Heckert was survived by his two children, Griffin and Madison.
North Coast Sports extends their condolences to the Heckert family.