Ex-Cleveland Browns Player Who Was There for “The Drive” Sees Good Things Ahead for the Team
“This is the first time in a very long time that I’ve been this excited about the Cleveland Browns,” said Brian Brennan, a Managing Director and Division Head for Fixed Income at KeyBanc Capital Markets. Brennan has a unique perspective on the team. He spent nine years in the NFL, eight of them with the Browns. In fact, he remains its fourth all-time receiver, with 315 receptions, and made the playoffs seven of his eight Browns seasons, from 1984-1991.
1986 AFC Championship Game
While he enjoyed a lot of success with the team, he also experienced its heartbreaks, including “The Drive” from the 1986 AFC championship game.
“There were less than six minutes left in the game when I caught a touchdown pass thrown by Bernie Kosar that put us up 20-13,” said Brennan. “When I walked over to the sidelines I was so excited I was shaking. I thought for sure we were going to the Super Bowl because I had just scored.”
But a Browns appearance at the Super Bowl was not to be. Brennan watched in horror as, with less than a minute to go, Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway led a 98-yard drive that tied the game and led to a Broncos win in overtime.
“I remember standing on the sidelines watching arguably the best quarterback in the NFL at the time march the ball down the field, I began to feel a lump in my stomach developing. And then to lose in overtime at home in Cleveland, that really hurt!”
Life After Football
There would be both more challenges and more victories ahead before Brennan would leave the NFL to pursue a career in finance. He and his wife Bethany, whom he’d met at Boston College (where he’d been a teammate of Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie), liked Cleveland and decided to put down roots in Northeast Ohio. Their three grown children also work in finance, two of them at Key and one at Bloomberg.
Brennan says he’s very encouraged by what’s currently happening with the Browns.
“The most important thing is the acquisition of talent, and this year’s draft was exceptional. The upgrade to the offensive line is huge,” said Brennan. “I also like Hue Jackson, I think he’s a very solid coach. It should be a good recipe for success over the next few years.”
Brennan said some of the lessons he learned in football carried over to his career at Key. “No matter what talent level anyone has, in football or any other discipline, you get to the top through good habits, hard work, and with help from others who have the same goals that you have.”
Brennan is thrilled to be at a company that shares his goals of community service. He has hosted a golf tournament for nearly 30 years that has raised more than $5.5 million for Boys Hope Girls Hope, an organization that provides a quality education and a safe, secure home to help children in challenging circumstances succeed. Key has been a significant supporter over the years.
“Key has a very strong moral and ethical executive leadership team. People at Key, whether it’s our CEO, Beth Mooney, or other employees, truly care about others, and that’s how I was raised, too,” says Brennan.