Six years ago, Bailee Brown was folding towels as an intern for the Arizona Cardinals. Now he’s a scout for the Houston Texans and inching closer to his dream job of one day being a general manager for an NFL franchise.

It’s been quite the ride for the former Liberty Christian standout, who at 28 is finally catching a big break as the Southwest scout for the Texans. His job will be to visit schools and evaluate college players in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Nebraska who have the potential to succeed in the NFL.

Like those players, Brown has been busy paying his dues. After learning the ropes in the Cardinals’ equipment room, he spent the last five years with the New Orleans Saints, first as an intern and later as a scouting assistant.

All he knew was that getting in was the key.

“That’s how I’ve built my football resume,” Brown said with a laugh. “I remember years ago someone asking me what my dream job was, and I said general manager. I threw it out there not thinking it would happen. But here I am in the NFL.

“God has opened so many doors for me; sometimes I have to pinch myself that this is all happening.”

His NFL journey began shortly after he graduated from Liberty. He didn’t go on to play college football, but rather lived the intramural life as a student at Texas A&M. As luck would have it, a family member knew former Cardinals strength and conditioning coach John Lott and helped get Brown’s foot in the door.

He spent his summers with the Cardinals, helping clean and distribute gear to players and working with defensive backs during practice. It wasn’t the most glorious post in the world, but Brown did it with a smile on his face every day and earned a reputation for being a hard worker.

He would have gladly kept doing that job had it not been for one fateful meeting.

According to Brown, a few of his former coaches at Liberty were close with Saints coach Sean Payton. It was 2012 and Payton had just started serving his season-long suspension for covering up a system of bounty payouts among his players. The high school coaches told Payton, who had children who went to Liberty, about Brown and his dream of making it in the NFL, and Payton was quick to set up a meeting.

“It was during his suspension and apparently he said, ‘Sure, I’ve got nothing but time on my hands,’” Brown said. “I remember we met at this hole-in-the-wall pizza parlor near his house in Las Colinas. I kept trying to get up to leave, thinking that I was wasting his time. But he wouldn’t let me. He was really nice, and we must have talked for three hours.”

It was then that Payton offered Brown a chance to be an intern for summer 2013. He was promoted to scouting assistant for the 2014-16 seasons. In 2017, he was tasked with the additional responsibilities of covering the region of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho and Washington.

While in New Orleans, Brown was part of the staff that drafted running back Alvin Kamara, who went on to be named the 2017 NFL offensive rookie of the year, and cornerback Marshon Lattimore, the defensive rookie of the year.

“I did a lot of fetching coffee and running errands for the other scouts, but I was able to learn from those guys and pick their brains,” Brown said. “I made the most of that time. Everyone pays their dues, but while I was doing that, you also learn a lot about how to be a good scout.”

Brown said he shadowed Saints assistant general manager Jeff Ireland. Ireland quickly became a mentor and was the one who recommended Brown to the Texans.

“Jeff taught me everything I know about scouting,” Brown said. “He basically told the Texans that I deserved a chance.

“This time last year, I wasn’t making much money and I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with my wife in New Orleans. Now, here I am with the Texans, we’re back home and my wife is about to have our first baby. It’s funny how things work out. I couldn’t be more happy.”

STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 469-360-3611 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.

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