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Loving the Browns' changes, but not the spin

Feb 15, 2014 -- 5:59pm

By Bruce Hooley |



Not all the orange cones are confined to the Innerbelt Bridge, now that the Cavs and Browns have blown out their top-tier management.

Let the reclamation project begin in Berea with new general manager Ray Farmer replacing Mike Lombardi  and team president Alec Scheiner spreading his wings to cover some areas Joe Banner handled previously.

Those changes spark this week’s look at The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Cleveland Sports.


Chris Grant’s firing as general manager of the Cavaliers must have ended his constant in-game phone calls to coach Mike Brown, while also halting Grant’s enabling of the players’ laziness and entitlement culture.

What other explanation could there be for the Cavs’ sudden four-game winning streak since Grant’s departure?

Can’t think of one? No one can, probably because to assume Grant did either is preposterous. There is no cogent explanation for why the Cavs are suddenly playing better now that Grant is gone, other than it may have snapped the players to attention so that they’re playing closer to their potential.

That’s not Grant’s fault, it’s the fault of the players he showed enough consideration to select that let him down and ultimately cost him his job.


Banner spent only 17 months in Cleveland, but it apparently will take much longer for his impact here to erode from memory in the NFL.

Hopefully, Farmer, Scheiner and Pettine will form a winning combination that can peacefully co-exist and report individually to owner Jimmy Haslam, without cannibalizing each other.

But their task might be more difficult when it comes to eradicating the hard feelings toward the organization that Banner sparked around the NFL.

Peter King’s report about Ken Whisenhunt’s interview with the Browns suggests that Banner’s ego created an image of the organization throughout the league that will linger until disproven by his successors.

That’s unfortunate for the new Browns management team, but it’s reality -- a souvenir of Banner’s short stay in Cleveland.


Haslam’s reboot of the organizational flow chart made him a target throughout the league, but the buzz locally is the Browns’ owner charted a necessary, albeit painful, course that will serve the franchise well in the near and long term.

Haslam could make himself even more embraceable if he would simply own up to the accuracy of the local and national narrative that the Browns suffered from inner turmoil and dysfunction during Banner’s and Lombardi’s tenure.

Instead, Haslam continues to recite the tired defense that opinions throughout the NFL are positive about the Browns and their future:

“Let me say that I would disagree with that, OK. I think that’s a perception that you all have set out there. I will tell you as I talk to people around the league or at the Super Bowl last year, people view this as a great franchise. It’s a great football area. We’re in great shape with the cap. We’re in great shape with the draft. I think that if you talk to people around the league, they’ll say that this is a wonderful opportunity.”

Guess what, Mr. Haslam? People are not going to insult you to your face. They have too much respect for your money and your position to do that. If they’re inclined to laugh, they’ll do it behind your back.

What would play better than your nothing-to-see-here protests is a mea culpa along the lines of, “Sure, we’ve done some things wrong. I wouldn’t be up here explaining these changes if we hadn’t. But we’ve learned from those mistakes and we’re moving forward, more determined than ever to show with our success on the field that the Cleveland Browns are a first-class organization that does things the right way.”

Admit your mistakes, Mr. Haslam. It makes you more likeable. And more believable.


Bruce Hooley hosts "Hooley & Jerod" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on ESPN 850 WKNR. He is the author of, “That’s Why I’m Here: The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story.”

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