Browns passed on Teddy Bridgewater because ... he didn't have a good handshake?

An ESPN story looked into the Cleveland Browns' mistakes under owner Jimmy Haslam. (AP)
An ESPN story looked into the Cleveland Browns’ mistakes under team owner Jimmy Haslam. (AP)

There are a number of strange tidbits in ESPN’s story about the Cleveland Brownswe found out the social media hashtag #dp is not for Dawg Pound — but one seemingly small part stood out.

The Browns apparently passed on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the 2014 draft because owner Jimmy Haslam didn’t like his handshake. So he pushed for the Browns to draft Johnny Manziel instead.

The longer we go, the more we realize that the NFL can be a strange place. It’s not always the most progressive of businesses. New ideas are often disposed of very quickly, or teams warm up to them at a glacial pace. We’re just getting to a point in which it’s not considered radical to go for it on fourth-and-1 at midfield.

The draft seems to be the point in which all of the ridiculous decision-making is at its peak. What more do you need to know than Haslam apparently having a say in making a franchise-altering decision at quarterback, and basing it on how Bridgewater shook his hand?

Browns pass on Teddy Bridgewater for odd reason

Here is the passage on Bridgewater from ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, who wrote that some in the organization wanted Bridgewater in the second round:

“But the team had soured on Bridgewater after his interview dinner and workout with team brass; something about Bridgewater’s handshake rubbed Haslam the wrong way, he told team executives,” Wickersham wrote.

Even if the handshake tidbit was a small part in passing on Bridgewater, it’s still amazing. Bridgewater didn’t last to the second round anyway. The Minnesota Vikings traded up to take him with the last pick of the first round, and he was progressing nicely until a freak knee injury in practice. The Browns also spent $100,000 on an analytical study that told them to draft Bridgewater, and they ignored that.

We all know what happened with Manziel. Wickersham wrote that then-GM Ray Farmer knew Haslam wanted Manziel, “so he made a decision that felt like a concession and traded up to draft him, despite significant concerns about Manziel’s skill set and hard partying at Texas A&M.” Manziel’s skills and hard partying with the Browns made for a disastrous stint before he was cut. Manziel hasn’t been signed by any other NFL team.

But, he probably has a firm handshake.

Browns hope they’re turning it around

The Browns eventually figured out the quarterback question. Baker Mayfield, the top pick of last year’s draft, looks like a star. Even if there were some horrendous mistakes and terrible seasons between the Manziel pick and getting it right with Mayfield, the future looks bright now.

The whole ESPN story deals with the push and pull of the Browns front office, the meddling of Haslam, the turnover of the coaching staff and various draft mistakes. It’s also a look into how behind the times teams like the Browns can be, especially when it comes to the draft.

Maybe that has started to turn around since the Browns have made some good picks lately. Perhaps they’ve listened to the work their scouts are doing, instead of worrying too much about dinner interviews and handshake grips.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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