Over the past two seasons, the Cleveland Browns have won just one game in 32 attempts. Let that sink in for a moment. The Browns are 1-31 over a two year period. This 32 game stretch is the worst for any National Football League team ever. And this from a team that used to be the hallmark of professional football.
Without a doubt these past two seasons have been agony for Browns fans. All led by the current owner, Jimmy Haslam. His $1.05 billion purchase of the NFL franchise from Randy Lerner in 2012 was met with promise and hope. He owned a minority stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers, meaning he learned from one of the best owners in the NFL. Obviously Haslam didn’t listen at meetings. His purchase of the Browns was orchestrated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Based upon Haslam’s performance, Goodell should stick with being the commissioner and not a business broker.
So what has Haslam done to improve the team? Nothing. Is it from the lack of trying? No. It’s from arrogance. The failure to believe anyone other than him is smart enough to know how to run a football team. After all, this is the same guy that merged Flying J and Pilot into a multi-billion dollar company. Then stepped down as CEO for a short time while it was under FBI investigation. That should be a good first clue Haslam should let those who know how, run things.
The numbers speak for themselves. Since Haslam took over the team in the 2013 season, the Browns have gone 15-65. A wonderful winning percentage of .188. When the old Browns left in 1995, the overall record was 376-268-10, a winning percentage of .582. Since 1999, the Browns are 88-216, which isn’t good. But Haslam as owner has obliterated that mark.
It’s hard to believe this is the same team that brought Paul Brown to the NFL, Jim Brown. This current Browns regime makes many long for the day Art Modell owned the team. The worst thing Modell did was move the team to Baltimore because he wanted a new stadium. After years of playing in a mausoleum, and the city bringing the Cavaliers back downtown when they already had a perfectly good coliseum close to Akron, Modell took his team and organization to Baltimore where they did something he couldn’t do in Cleveland. Win a Super Bowl.
For all Modell did to alienate Browns fans, he knew one thing. How to hire coaches. Unfortunately, he never knew how to keep them. The litany list of coaches Modell hired after firing Paul Brown is amazing. Forrest Gregg, Sam Rutigliano, Marty Schottenheimer and, arguably the greatest of all time, Bill Belichick. And yet, with more money than Modell ever had to run the Browns, Haslam has hired coaches with no pedigree. The best being Rob Chudzinski, whom he fired after one season.
Internal combats of the front office have been ongoing. Just the names have changed. Former GM Ray Farmer using his cell phone to complain about coaching decisions during games via texts. Unbelievable draft picks and chasing away Brian Hoyer and Kyle Shanahan. Need anything be said about Johnny Manziel?
Then comes the latest regime. Haslam made former legal counsel Sashi Brown VP of football operations, then naming baseball analytics guru Paul DePodesta chief strategy officer. This led to Brown sabotaging a trade with Cincinnati to get quarterback A. J. McCarren, who is better than anything the Browns have on their quarterback depth chart. That led to Brown being asked to find his own replacement, then fired after the hiring of John Dorsey as GM.
Should the new GM be allowed to hire his own coach? Probably. But for the second time in his ownership tenure, Haslam has named a coach before GM. Upon hiring Dorsey, the Browns owner stated Hue Jackson would be back next year. Jackson staying or going should be the decision of the new GM. It’s obviously not.
There is an old saying, a fish rots from the head. That’s what is happening with the Browns. Until that head is cut off and Jimmy Haslam is no longer the owner, the Cleveland Browns are in for a long run of inconsistency, lack of stability and fan frustration. Get used to it.
Dave Mitchell co-hosts with Mark Donahue the UST talk show “Ohio Baseball Weekly,” highlighting the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. The Show is at 9pm every Monday evening. He also provides play by play of sports. If you have a comment on this or any other article,email Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @ohbbcohost or @ultsportstalk.