Trey Brown spent the first day at his Paul Brown Stadium desk in the Bengals personnel department sitting with the clicker flicking through tape. Which is a slight difference than when he broke into the business some three decades ago hiding in the offices of his dad's Kansas City Chiefs.
"I was the kid who was running around all over the place," Theotis Brown III recalled Monday. "Hiding in the sauna in the locker room. Hiding under tables. I'd ask my dad, 'What does he do? What does she do?' That type of access got me intrigued in the business."
That's just the kind of energy the Bengals are banking on from the newest addition to the player personnel department in Brown, 36, a scout with a myriad of experiences on and off the field with two Super Bowl teams in four pro leagues.
Before serving as an executive with both the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football (director of football operations) and with the XFL's St. Louis BattleHawks (director of player personnel), Brown spent three years as the Eagles director of college scouting. His five seasons in Philadelphia came after a two-year stint as a scout for the Patriots on the West Coast, a job spawned by New England personnel chief Nick Caserio's interaction on the scouting trail with a smart, scrappy and undersized UCLA cornerback before the 2008 draft.
"Trey brings a lot of experience in a lot of different roles. He has a great data base of players and he expands our coverage in so many different areas," says Duke Tobin, the Bengals director of player personnel. "Our scouts here play a lot of different roles and they scout in a lot of different areas and they're relied on to provide opinions both on the pro side and college side and Trey fits that mold to a tee and he comes in ready made to contribute."
Brown is no stranger to the Bengals director of pro scouting, Steven Radicevic, a teammate at UCLA, and Mike Potts, the director of college scouting he's known since the days Potts worked the road for the Falcons.
"Being able to be a part of what we do here in both college and pro and a little of everything in between, it's unique," Brown said. "Versatility is very important in our business and I think I provide that and also be able to fit in where I'm needed here. If they need somebody to do this, that, I'm ready to go."
He achieved a bit of fame when he appeared in a Microsoft Surface commercial in 2016, something he wears easily since he grew up in the game. Brown, who has interviewed for general manager jobs with the Bills and Raiders, joins a staff of rising young guns and sees himself as part of a group he has admired from afar.
"I think they've done a really nice job acquiring talent from both college and around the league," Brown said. "You look at the job they did in free agency just this past year alone and it's very impressive."
Brown's first draft came before he was even born when UCLA running back Theotis Brown II was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1979 second round. After his career was cut short by a heart attack at age 27 in Kansas City, Trey was born into his father's transition from the field to the Chiefs front office and his work in community relations and ticket sales. One of those folks he asked his dad about turned out to be Carl Peterson, the Chiefs general manager and an early mentor.
"I've had the chance to be molded by a lot of different people," Brown said.
It started at UCLA because both his parents went there (after his father was a football locker mate of actor Tom Hanks at Oakland's Skyline High School) and Forest Gump's feather kept floating into football possibilities.
With his mother a college a professor, there was no question he was going to Los Angeles for the education. "I'm a Bruin for life." His head coach was Karl Dorrell who had a staff populated by NFL talent such as Eric Bieniemy, Kyle Shanahan and Tom Cable. Also on campus was backup quarterback Brian Callahan, the Bengals current offensive coordinator. After 50 games in four seasons and a spot on the Jim Thorpe list of the nation's best defensive backs, Brown led the country in pass breakups on pure, uncut IQ and didn't get a call.
"Now looking at it, me being a scout and evaluating myself, 'Whooh,'" he said with a laugh. "Five-nine. 4.62 (in the 40-yard dash), that's not ideal. But when you sit down and get him in an interview, maybe this guy can be a good coach one day. Maybe this guy would be a good scout."
That's why the Patriots called, but not before he signed as an undrafted free agent with head coach Lovie Smith's Bears, where future NFL head man Steve Wilks was his position coach. When he was let go after training camp he eventually hooked on briefly with the UFL's New York Sentinels.
"A great personnel man and even better person," says Chris Shea, the Chiefs' salary cap exec and legal counsel who worked for two seasons with Brown during a coaching change in Philadelphia. "His personality, his energy, his ability to lead people were all on display.
"Trey helped rally the troops in that transition and delivered what I thought was a good product … As a personnel director in other leagues, he's got a slightly different perspective than other people in scouting. He has an ability to absorb things like analytics and sports science. Those grass roots experiences are going to let him add a lot of value to the Bengals."
In Philly, he had a chance to work under two long-time NFL executives in Howie Roseman and Tom Donahoe and when they led the Eagles to a Super Bowl win over the Patriots, Brown got a chance to do some advance scouting and delve into pro work as well as college.
That's just the kind of versatility Tobin covets in his scouts. He particularly likes Brown's experiences in the AAF and XFL.
"Seeing how other leagues operate and the experience of understanding the organization is a positive," Tobin says. "He's seen a lot of different roles and he's looked at it from different lenses and that's good. And he's ready to go right away."
Brown has the clicker and he's still running around.
"I'm excited for the opportunity," he said, sitting in front of the desk and instead of under it.