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
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 . . .
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
“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
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.