The details of the Cleveland Browns' second wave of mass firings has come out, and it appears as if team owner Jimmy Haslam just wanted to make his whole first-year mess go away.
May Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that because former CEO Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi often clashed — most notably during the Browns' recent head-coaching search — and so Haslem got rid of both in a stunning move earlier this week.
The search to land new head coach Mike Pettine took 25 days and often was met with scorn and suspicion from the local and national media. It appeared that candidates seemingly came out of nowhere (or disappeared), while others — at least three — removed their names from consideration. Basically, the whole thing appeared mismanaged throughout, even if Pettine ends up becoming a good head coach.
Behind the scenes, Banner and Lombardi sparred, per the report. Banner wanted Lombardi gone, and yet Haslam wanted Banner gone, too. The discord over candidates to be brought in and interviewed reached a head when the team was entering a final phase with Pettine, and yet the Browns' former power brokers flew to Tampa for a last-minute interview with embattled former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano in the middle of the Senior Bowl.
Then there was the whole Josh McDaniels nonsense, and perhaps he was the "mystery candidate" the Browns talked about when they hired Pettine even after it appeared that McDaniels wasn't interested in the job. (Think about that for a minute.)
Basically, Haslam realized that Banner wanted to fire Lombardi, who already wasn't that popular a hire in Cleveland, and that many head-coaching candidates who interviewed for the Browns' job didn't want to work with Banner. So now both are gone.
It's a mess. There's no pretty word to describe it. Can Pettine and new GM Ray Farmer and the rest of what's left make the best of the situation? Sure, because there are some real positives about the football team and what they can accomplish this offseason.
But if the Browns are expecting a host of free-agent players to be knocking on their doors this offseason, they might want to think otherwise. This team is still a little too radioactive right now.
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