Murphy's Law out of control
They won’t send them, but you can bet Ozzie Newsome, Kevin Colbert and Mike Brown would love to send thank-you notes to Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for hiring Mike Lombardi as your de facto general manager. You have just assured yourself semi-permanent ownership of the basement in the AFC North.
The three guys who basically run the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals right now can’t believe how unbelievably lucky they are that Haslam and his buddy, CEO Joe Banner, chose Lombardi to guide Cleveland’s personnel department and have a strong voice in all decisions.
There is no question Haslam has spoken to Cleveland media regarding Lombardi, who previously worked for the Browns from 1987 to 1995. As a relative stranger to the history of this franchise, talking to veteran media members gives him a more focused look and greater insight into that history.
By allowing and sanctioning the hiring of Lombardi, is it clear he paid no heed. He listened to only Banner, a relative newcomer to the Cleveland scene..
If he had paid attention, he would have discovered Lombardi was more of a hindrance than a help when he guided the personnel department for coach Bill Belichick. The Browns did not get better with those two calling the shots. Their drafts were awful.
It became obvious what Belichick thought of Lombardi when he eventually took over the New England Patriots. The two went their separate ways.
He won’t know right away, but Haslam will find out over the long haul that he has made his first serious mistake as the new owner of the Browns.
In a prepared release, the Browns speak glowingly of Lombardi’s accomplishments, but do not address why the man cannot keep a job. He has become a National Football League vagabond. Good men do not bounce around in the NFL.
This move has Banner’s fingerprints all over it. It establishes, once and for all, that he has become a little dictator. Haslam has handed him the keys to his billion-dollar kingdom.
In a world where the accountably factor weighs heavily in a person’s employment, Banner has placed enormous faith in Lombardi’s ability to come in and become the Browns’ personnel savior.
The problem is there is no evidence that Lombardi, who has been out of the NFL inner loop for the last five years, can step right in and make a difference. It seems as though Banner is clearly gambling Lombardi is the man he hired as a consultant with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1997.
But when the Eagles hired Andy Reid away from Green Bay the next year, Lombardi was excused and resumed his vagabond ways.
The hiring of Rob Chudzinski to replace Pat Shurmur as the head coach is clearly a step in the right direction, But to replace Tom Heckert Jr. with the likes of Lombardi borders on stupefying.
Chudzinski, who we are told will have input into the final roster and any subsequent moves, stands no chance with Lombardi, who has a much stronger personality, in charge.
There will be a power struggle. Count on it. And Haslam will be squarely in the middle of it. That’s when he’ll find out how seriously unwise his decision was to back Banner. And there will be only one loser that comes out of it: The Cleveland Browns fan.
The reaction to Lombardi’s hiring, rumored for months, has been swift and vicious by the fans. An overwhelming majority of fans on Cleveland.com are outraged. The very constituency Haslam needs in his corner is supremely unhappy.
Snide and surly comments litter the comments section following the Plain Dealer article heralding Lombardi’s arrival. Positive posts are few and extremely far between. I can’t remember when a Browns appointment was met with such vitriol by the fan base.
The fans have longed for – and deserved – a winner for so long, it’s understandable they would react in this manner. They are fed up with wrong moves by this franchise.
Ever since their rebirth in 1999, the Browns have flirted almost annually with Murphy’s Law. You know the adage that says “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
When is this madness going to stop? Most of us thought the Browns were finally getting an owner who cared, really cared, about improving the club. We knew Randy Lerner did not and that’s why we bought into the Haslam line.
As it turns out, it’s the same-old, same-old, wrapped in a different package.