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If I owned the Browns ...

Dec 17, 2013 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi |


Photo/USA Today

The Morning Kickoff …

Where’s Jimmy?: As the first real season of the second ownership and the sixth management regime in 15 years of the Browns expansion era dribbles down the drain, everyone wants to know, “What’s Jimmy Haslam thinking?”

Alas, Haslam is not talking about his 4-10 football team.

He’s not hiding. He’s at every game, doing what owners do on game days – entertaining business associates, prowling the sideline in pre-game warmups, hobnobbing  with the Rooneys and the Kahns and the Krafts, jetting in, jetting out.

Haslam also regularly spends a business day or two during the week at Browns headquarters.

But he’s not talking. Haslam has insulated himself from any public discourse about the football team and the fans’ disgust with another losing season.

Of course, there is that legal matter back home at Pilot Flying J headquarters in Knoxville, TN, no doubt preoccupying him. Understandably. Serious stuff, that.

But exactly what is Haslam thinking about the first year of his ownership? He is the one who lowered expectations in March when he said the Browns would not go 13-3. But did he really expect 4-10? Didn’t he say his expectation was for the team to be better at the end of the season than it was at the beginning? Does he question game strategy? Personnel decisions? Does he have an opinion on the quarterback position?

What are his experts telling him and how is he reacting?

If I owned the Browns …

I would gather the draft experts together and say, “OK, somebody tell me how we inherit a 5-11 team, fire everybody, draft sixth or seventh in every round, and not a single drafted rookie we take makes an impact? I mean, why did we travel to all those college all-star games and pro day workouts?”

I would sit Joe Banner down and say, “Nice call on the Trent Richardson trade. But were you really considering trading Josh Gordon?”

Another for Joe: “You know this thing you call ‘sustained success’? Let’s have success. Then you and your guys figure out how to sustain it. Don’t use ‘sustained success’ as a built-in excuse not to succeed right now.”

I would call a meeting with everybody in football operations and put each on the record to answer this question: “Do you know what a fullback is?” Those who answer affirmatively would be told, “Then get one in here by tomorrow.” The others would be sent to human resources to sign some papers.

If I owned the Browns …

I would tell Rob Chudzinski, “Listen, we’re not splitting atoms here. If we win the coin toss, take the ball. If I wanted Marty Mornhinweg, I would have hired Marty Mornhinweg. The point is to score early and often. Worry about the second half at halftime. Get a lead.”

I would have a heart-to-heart with Norv Turner and ask, “Did a running back steal your lunch in grade school? I mean, you do realize this isn’t San Diego and we can’t expect our quarterback to throw 50 times every game?”

I would take those stat sheets from Ray Horton and burn them with a blowtorch and say, “That attacking defense you talked about in our interview? Feel free to use it in a fourth quarter one of these games.”

I would pull aside Chris Tabor and tell him, “I know about the revolving door, the injuries, and all that. But special teams should never ever cost us a game and I’ve got your guys for three this year.”

If I owned the Browns …

I would sit down with Josh Gordon and let him know, “We’ll take care of you if you take care of yourself and stay clean. And if you come down with a strep throat, call me. I know a doctor.”

I would introduce Barkevious Mingo to Chef Michael Symon and tell Symon, “Load him up with carbs.” And I would hire a martial arts expert to teach Mingo some moves.

I would tell Joe Haden, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

If I owned the Browns …

I would apologize for not having every seat in FirstEnergy Stadium cleaned of snow and ice.

And I would apologize for one lousy season.


Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




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