Culbreath: What the hell is happening in Cleveland?Written by Matt 'Shaggy' Culbreath | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“What the hell is happening in Cleveland?”
That was the question I got multiple times this week. And rightfully so, as Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam announced that team CEO Joe Banner and General Manager Mike Lombardi were no longer with the team. Assistant GM Ray Farmer would get promoted to the GM job, and the CEO position would remain vacant for the time being.
How do you shake the Three Stooges moniker? Fire two of ‘em.
Now, I don’t like to dip into the rumor mill, because we don’t know what’s legitimate and what’s made up. But piece them together, and you get a tapestry that explains what’s happening in Berea.
Taking what we know is fact: when it came to the two coaching searches the Browns have held under Haslam’s watch, they’ve been brutal. Remember how the reports before the 2013 season were that they were negotiating terms with Chip Kelly? That didn’t happen. Ken Wisenhunt, Bill O’Brien, Adam Gase? Swings and misses. Taken on fact alone, you can see that Banner and Lombardi were simply not closers. Chudzinski was a “settle” hire, as was Pettine.
The rumor mill paints an uglier picture. Reports of Banner and Lombardi getting into fights during interviews scared some prospects away from the team. Nobody seemed to be on the same page. According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3 prospective hires took themselves out of the running after their interviews because of the dysfunction. If you believe Peter King of Sports Illustrated, the nail in the coffin was the last-second talk with Greg Schiano for the coaching vacancy. Haslam was “intrigued”, Banner was not, and acted like a petulant child throughout the process. Now, I’m not a fan of Schiano, and I’m guessing Banner was trying to save face from the team. But when the boss is intrigued, you at least play along.
Now, remember when I said earlier that the CEO job was going to sit empty? There’s another rumor that really piques my interest, not because of the implications of it being true, but in that it provides an insight to the new owner.
According to Cabot, she thinks that Haslam might be waiting on a Super Bowl XLVIII losing quarterback to retire, and offer him the job. Why Peyton Manning would take a front office job in Cleveland, I don’t know. You’d think he’d take a job in Indy or Denver (or heck, even Tennessee) before the Browns. Then again, I never thought Steve Yzerman would become GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The likelihood of that ever happening, in my eyes, is slim to none. Just as the rumors of Jim Tressel taking the Browns job needed a healthy dose of “what exactly does he gain by doing that”, I’m not sure Peyton wants to start his front office career in a work-in-progress like the Browns. But the fact that it’s even a thought tells me one thing about Haslam: he does not buy into the notion that Cleveland is inferior. In a league where players can dang near pick where they want to play, he’s hell bent on at least trying to build a team on the shores of Lake Erie. I do think he realizes he doesn’t have all of the pieces he wants, and I’m not even sure if Farmer is a guy who he thinks can help the team build. He needs a veteran in the front office if they’re going to start making the right calls. But the term “patience” isn’t in his vocabulary right now: at this point he’s trying to identify the main problems, and most fans think he’s knocked a few barnacles off the ship this week.
Tags: Assistant GM Ray Farmer, CEO Joe Banner, CLeveland Browns, General Manager Mike Lombardi, Greg Schiano, Jim Tressel, Mary Kay Cabot, owner Jimmy Haslam, Peter King, Peyton Manning, Sports Illustrated, Stever Yzerman, Super Bowl XLVIII, Tampa Bay LIghtning, Three Stooges