Friday, June 15, 2012

Transparent Mike

So Mike Holmgren has decided to become the transparent president of the Cleveland Browns, letting his hair down in a one-hour media session the other day.

One question: What took you so long, Mike?

Apparently, you have terribly misjudged your relatively new constituency. This is Cleveland, Ohio, where professional football is king 365 days a year; 366 this year. The Browns are never out of the consciousness of the fans.

You’ve been in Cleveland for more than two years now and only now you have decided to descend from your ivory tower and mingle with the peasants, er, fans. Kind of makes one wonder . . . why?

Could it be because you have chosen to ignore the wailing of the fans during your sterling 9-23 record since you arrived? The cries have gotten louder and louder and the fans, many of whom, still have faith in you and what you’re doing, wanted to know what you’re thinking.

Why you have chosen to remain behind the scenes until now will forever remain mystery. But it’s good to have you finally aboard. After all, someone has to take the blame for what has eventuated the last two seasons.

It takes a man to admit he was wrong. Glad to see you manned up and admitted you were wrong to say at the beginning of last season that the club’s 5-11 record in 2010 was unacceptable. And then they went out last season and finished 4-12.

“I shouldn’t have said that, honestly,” you told the media. “Of course it’s not acceptable, 4-12 is even worse. It’s not acceptable. I will say the same thing now. I’m not going to give you a win-loss record, but I will say what I’ve told the coaches and what I’ve told the team.

“I expect us to take a good healthy jump this year on the field. Of course, I’m talking about the record, and what that is I won’t make the same mistake I made last year, but that’s what I expect. . . . We’re a more talented football team.”

Not exactly certain what he means, but it sure sounds as though he’s doubling down even though he admitted it was a mistake to talk that way a year ago.

Holmgren, with remarkable candor not seen nor heard previously, admitted the club played poorly last season, citing dropped passes as one of the reasons. “I want to see a big improvement there,” he said. Don’t we all.

Then he went on to nail various aspects of the team. “I would like to see a vast improvement in our running game, our productivity of our running game,” he said.  “I don’t want to see as many sacks from the offensive line. I want to see more interceptions, all the measurables you would use to tell you if your team is doing the right thing. That should equate. If those things are happening it should equate to a better record, which ultimately is what you are judged on.”

That, ultimately, is what the success of any team is judged on. Doing the little things well. Minimizing mistakes. The difference between winning and losing games is often quite small.

Saying it is one thing, however. Doing it is entirely different.

Holmgren’s honesty with the media at the session carried over to his relationship with the guys and gals who act as conduits for the fans. He said he had no regrets for not making himself more available until now.

“I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing this time to be honest, but I feel like as long as you don’t involve me in a big controversy with my coach, then that’s how I’d like to do it,” he said. “ I don’t want you to ask Pat (Shurmur) a question the day before I talk to you then, “Oh, gotcha.” Don’t do that because then I will go back into my shell.

“As a coach, I was very open and very transparent and not too many things bothered me as far as my relationship with you guys. As long as I thought it was a fair and reasonable relationship. I really thought I was doing the right thing, and maybe I still was doing the right thing, but that’s how I’m going to do it.”

The best way to avoid that is to make certain all lines of communication are open with the media. Nothing is a secret. Everything is above board. That way, nothing gets lost in the translation.

And it all begins with Holmgren. He’s the boss. He controls everything at 76 Lou Groza Blvd.

The media would like nothing better than to cover a competitive team, a contending team. That makes their job that much easier.  It also makes Holmgren’s job that much easier.

Be open with the media and the media will respond in kind. If his efforts produce a winning team, he’ll find that out soon enough.


  1. After 2 years it does seem funny that he said some of the things he did and acts the way he does. I guess $5M a year can't buy someone that bleeds Brown and Orange.

  2. Unknown . . .

    Someone got to him. Guessing that when he took the job, he thought it would be easy. A record of 9-23 changed that in a hurry. In this buck-stops-here world, that gets more than just a little attention.

    Not certain who he's getting advice from, but what we saw the other day was a direct result of that advice. But you did notice he would shut everyone off if he was forced into a "gotcha" situation regarding his head coach. Fair warning has been served.

    1. He has already stated that he did not want to step on Coach Shurmer's toes because he didn't like it when that happened to him when he was a coach. As a coach he wanted to be the face of the organization and he was giving Coach Shurmer that same respect. I see nothing wrong with that. It seems like nothing is good enough for Browns fans!

  3. It's not a matter of stepping on the coach's toes. He's the coach's big boss. It's a matter, since he's a high profile guy on the organizational chart, of him being transparent with the public, which is his constituency.

    If he were a business guy at the top, like John Collins was, that would be entirely different. He's Mike Holmgren, big-shot football guy with a sterling reputation as a coach. Living in the ivory tower should not exempt him from being transparent.

    He was hired to turn around the program. The fans deserve to hear from him.

  4. oh good grief...leave it to lerner to hire a guy that was stipped of his gm duties at one place and make him president here...and leave it to the insecure cle media to have their feelings smoothed b/c ole mikey boy talks to them....FAIL
    mike, dover

  5. I don't think it's a matter of an insecure media. The media is not the club's lap dog. Holmgren, as a high profile football guy in an important position, needs to realize he can't just sit back and be silent. He's far too important in the public's eyes to do that.

    Now that he has declared his transparency, Holmgren must be available and ready to go on the record when asked. If not, then it becomes apparent he has taken on more than he can handle.