COMMENTARY | It's rare that fans of the Cleveland Browns have anything meaningful to do during Super Bowl week.
The Browns Backers of New York City organized a makeshift team town hall that took place in Manhattan on Friday of Super Bowl week. Browns president Alec Scheiner was the key speaker of the event, and he addressed many team issues during what was an hour-long discussion with a group of Cleveland fans.
My hope was to record Scheiner's comments in order to snag any potentially juicy quotes made by one of the individuals running the Browns. The venue that hosted the event was only slightly accommodating to the Browns Backers, however, and thus my recording was, to put it politely, a bit rough. Below are a few highlights from the conversation.
Scheiner explained that the firing of former head coach Rob Chudzinski largely had to do with the perception that the Browns didn't get any better during the second half of the 2013 NFL regular season. While those within the organization understood that the decision would not be popular, the team losing 10 of the final 11 games of the campaign was unacceptable.
Cleveland met with now head coach Mike Pettine for a total of 11 hours during the interviewing process. Scheiner stated that the team interviewed 11 candidates following the firing of Chudzinski, and that Pettine, the defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills before being given the Cleveland job, impressed with his comments about the defense AND about the offense of the Browns.
Scheiner patiently listened to several fan complaints about the in-game experience at FirstEnergy Stadium. He mentioned the renovations that will be coming to the stadium over the next several years, and he did state that the Browns will be looking to improve the concessions at FirstEnergy.
Scheiner mentioned how massive it was for the Browns to hold onto assistant general manger Ray Farmer. Farmer had met with the Miami Dolphins about that team's general manager job, but he ultimately decided to remain in Cleveland. There are rumors swirling about that Farmer could be promoted to general manager of the Browns and that Mike Lombardi could either be on his way out of Berea or moved to a different position within the club.
I asked about what went wrong with wide receiver Davone Bess. Bess missed the final two games of the regular season because of "personal reasons," he then posted several pictures on Instagram that seemed to show him using marijuana, and he was arrested in the middle of January. Scheiner could only say so much on the subject because it is a health issue, but he did hint that the Miami Dolphins could "look worse" regarding this matter when all is said and done.
It has since been learned that Bess was hospitalized against his will when he was a member of the Dolphins.
Scheiner had high praise for the Seattle Seahawks, who blew the Denver Broncos out in Super Bowl XLVIII. He mentioned how the Seahawks stocked up on quarterbacks several years ago, including drafting Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. When asked, he said that the Browns taking more than one quarterback in the 2014 draft is not out of the question.
Scheiner would not directly comment on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. The to-be rookie known as Johnny Football has been linked with the Browns since last September. Scheiner did say that Cleveland is currently focused on four quarterbacks who are set to enter the draft.
One upsetting part about the town hall was that not a single current Browns player who was in New York on Friday attended. Quarterback Brian Hoyer and wide receiver Josh Gordon made several media appearances during the day, and I was told that safety T.J. Ward was made aware of the fan event.
It's possible, of course, that no Cleveland player knew that Browns fans were coming together roughly 40 blocks away from Super Bowl Boulevard. Even if that was the case, it was still a missed opportunity for the team to do a solid for the most loyal fan base in all of the NFL. Browns fans have, minus the 2007 season, had little to cheer about over the past decade.
Shaking a few hands and taking a few pictures wouldn't have killed anybody, not even an All-Pro.
Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo Sports since 2010.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Cleveland Browns
- the Browns
- Mike Pettine
- Davone Bess