COMMENTARY | Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam decided to play the blame game when addressing all of the negative public perceptions floating around about his team.
"I think that's a perception that you all (the media) have generated," Haslam said when speaking with reporters after the Browns' brass introduced Mike Pettine as the team's new head coach on Thursday. "That's not the perception among the candidates. That's not the perception among football people that I've talked to around the country. They talk about the birthplace of football, great fan base, great cap space, young roster, 5 Pro Bowlers (it's 6), 10 draft picks, 3 of the first 35."
He went on. "This perception that's been created out there is not reality."
Really, Mr. Haslam?
It was not the media, Mr. Haslam, who wined and dined Chip Kelly for nearly seven hours last January before Kelly flew off to Philadelphia, blew that front office away and then took the Eagles job. The media didn't then, as a reaction, settle on Rob Chudzinski, a head coach that Cleveland fired eleven months after he was given the gig.
It was not the media who failed to bring in a backup quarterback heading into the Bye week when a playoff spot was very much so in reach. Brian Hoyer had been lost for the season a month prior, and journeyman Jason Campbell was banged up, and he, because of your inability to acquire a suitable replacement, limped into the final month and a half of the campaign.
It was not the media who didn't do a thorough background check on wide receiver Davone Bess, an individual who we now know had serious issues that needed to be dealt with before he put pen to paper on his Cleveland contract. It was not the media who signed a player who already had a torn ACL.
Last I checked, it wasn't the media who wasn't offered the time of day by Bill O'Brien, who apparently didn't even give the Browns a second thought (Cleveland interviewed him last January) before leaving Penn State for the Houston Texans. The media wasn't responsible for the lack of any real plan following the firing of Chudzinski, something that became more and more evident with every candidate who was contacted by the masterminds in Berea.
The media didn't miss out on desired offensive minds like Adam Gase, Josh McDaniels and Ken Whisenhunt. The media hasn't been the running gag of Senior Week preparations. Nobody within the media settled on a head coach who could have been interviewed late in the first week of January or at any point during the second week of January.
Things haven't gone as planned for the Browns since the 2013 NFL Draft. I understand that those within the front office aren't going to come out and acknowledge that, but there are better ways to handle the situation other than pointing fingers at those who cover the team.
Your team and your franchise are broken, Mr. Haslam. That has been the case just about every year since 1999. Worry more about eliminating that trend than about saving face.
The Browns becoming contenders is a story everybody within the local media would love to cover.
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.
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- Rob Chudzinski