Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Redefining Browns history

Every now and then, someone in the Browns’ organization comes along and utters a phrase that sticks to him like super glue.

Enter Ray Farmer and his bid for the “I Wish I Hadn’t Said That” Hall of Fame.

The Browns’ assistant general manager Tuesday joined the ranks of “Best Pure Pass Rusher” and “Mad Dog in a Meat Market” with the following prediction to

“I think Cleveland is primed and I think we’re in a position to redefine the history books,” he said, explaining why he removed his name from consideration for the general manager’s vacancy with the Miami Dolphins. “I think change is on the horizon and I didn’t want to miss what’s going to happen in Cleveland.”

Considering the plight of the professional football team that employs him since its rebirth in 1999, that, indeed, is quite a mouthful. Brave? You bet. Dumb? Unless he knows something we don’t, absolutely.

When your team limps along at snail’s pace for the better part of the last 15 years, it’s best to keep one’s mouth shut. As the saying goes, ‘tis better to keep one’s mouth closed and be thought a fool than open it and remove all doubt.

Either Farmer hasn’t fully studied the history of the newest iteration of the Cleveland Browns or someone has sold him a quality bill of goods. By making such bold statements, he exposes himself as someone who does not really have a grasp on the recent history of this franchise.

Let’s break down some of what he said.

Not exactly certain what Cleveland is primed for unless it’s more heartbreak and frustration because that’s what Browns fans have been primed for for way too long. 

In what way are the Browns in a position to redefine the history books? What kind of hyperbole is that?

At one time, the Browns were one of the National Football League’s most stable franchises. For the better part of the club’s first 50 years, they were the antithesis of what we’ve been subjected to the last 15 seasons.

And what kind of change is on the horizon?  We already know the coaching staff will be radically different from top to bottom. Is that the change of which Farmer speaks? If so, then yes, change is not only on the horizon, it’s already here.

“I knew what I had here,” he told “I know what I think is going to happen here and I know what we have in place. So to that degree, the known is better than the unknown.”

Let’s break down that one, too.

What the Browns have is a 4-12 team that lost its final seven games last season. They are a franchise that has registered just one double-digit winning season in 15 years. Winning as many as six or seven games a year is considered progress. Some might even call it a miracle.

Right now, they have a one-dimensional offense with one superstar, one budding star and that’s it. They have a team with a marginal offensive line. And the worst quarterbacks corps in the AFC North.

What Farmer either does not see – or refuses to see – is one of the most dysfunctional franchises in the NFL. It is a franchise that, no matter who occupies the Ivory Tower, continues to struggle and make mistake after mistake after mistake.

Obviously, he does not see it that way. Whether he chooses to do so myopically is another matter entirely.

 “People in Cleveland have their issues with the Browns and some people say rightfully so,” Farmer told “Some people would say it’s a new regime, time to give them a clean slate. I didn’t come to Cleveland to relive the negative history. I came to write a new chapter. I think that’s why a lot of us came here.”

Sold him a bill of goods.

And wouldn’t you know, Joe Banner knows exactly why Farmer decided to remove his name from consideration in Miami.

“He turned down the job primarily because he’s extremely happy here and he’s extremely optimistic and he enjoys the people he’s working with,” the club’s CEO told “He’d have to find exactly the right situation because he’d be leaving something he’s very, very happy with.”

Yep, it’s one big happy family at 76 Lou Groza Blvd.

Tell that to Robert Chudzinski.

And Banner is sanguine about Cleveland being a future landing spot for future players and coaches. “”Some of the most desirable people in all of sports have come to Cleveland since Jimmy (owner Jimmy Haslam III) and I took over,” he told, “including Rob Chudzinski, Norv Turner, Ray Horton, Mike Pettine, (club President) Alec Scheiner and (Executive Vice President, General Counsel) Sashi Brown.”

Let’s see. Chudzinski . . . gone. Turner . . . gone. Horton . . . gone. That didn’t take long. But wait, there’s more from Banner.

“Players like Des Bryant and Paul Kruger chose us over other cities, not to mention all of the people who desperately wanted this head-coaching job.”

OK, that’s enough.

Desirable people want to come to Cleveland? Define desirable. And candidates desperately wanted the head-coaching job? Really?

What bullroar. That doesn’t even come close to passing the sniff test.

As for Bryant and Kruger, they are wearing Seal Brown and Orange because the Browns paid them more money than anyone else. Which, considering what they contributed, was a smart move on the part of those teams that didn’t sign them.

One more item with Banner in the starring role.

With regard to the club keeping The Ghost under wraps and away from the media, the CEO said there was a good reason. “I’ve never see a sports team have more than one voice other than the head coach that speaks for the organization,” he said. “That’s what we did in Cleveland, but somehow that has become controversial.

“Teams don’t put out multiple layers of people and usually the media doesn’t want to speak to anybody other than the kind of decision makers and as high up as the organization as they can get.”

In most other NFL cities, the head coach is the primary face of the franchise. That is true. But that does not mean to the total exclusion of those decision makers in the front office who do make themselves available to the media. In those cities, the GM is not off limits.

It seems as though Banner has successfully created his own autocracy, along with Haslam. And that is one of the reasons Farmer’s words very well could come back to bite him in the hind flanks.


  1. Hey Rich, there ain't no future in the past! Nobody in this FO was here prior to 2012 yet you want to hang the stigma of the past on them? And you still bemoan the firing of a coaching staff who had 5-6 pro-bowlers but only managed 4 wins and folded like a house of cards down the stretch. Yeah, maybe, just maybe, Farmer does know something you don't! Even though I realize you are privy to a lot of inside info out there in Arizona. Brownsouth

  2. So what's your point?

    1. My point is: The best you can do is beat the past to death, champion a coaching staff that failed miserably, and berate an executive who decided to stay with the organization by insinuating he was stupid enough to be "sold a bill of goods". It would be nice if you could offer some insight once in awhile instead of the never-ending bashing. Brownsouth

  3. I beat the most recent past to death because it deserves nothing less. And nowhere did I champion that coaching staff. I seriously questioned jettisoning it after one season.

    As for Farmer, I do believe he was sold a bill of goods. That is my opinion. Either I'm right or I'm wrong. If I am proven wrong, I will admit it and move on. Until then, I stand by my thoughts.

    I have been very critical of this franchise since its rebirth in 1999. And it has deserved all of that criticism. I am not going to give this regime or any other regime a pass until it proves itself.

    You obviously choose to do so. That is your right. Good luck. With this crew, I believe you are going to need it.

    So count on me efforting to tell you the truth as I see it. That's the way I operate. Let's agree to disagree along the way.

  4. Well Rich, sooner or later SOMEBODY has to have the faith and turn this franchise around, don't they? Why not Farmer? He had high reviews while with KC, and Miami was apparently ready to offer him the GM job. Neither of those things mean he's the next big thing, but both give me more faith in him than in Banner or The Ghost. The only question is, will he have any actual say in building the roster, or will the Yokels In Charge continue tilting at their own windmills?


  5. A recent rumor had the Browns cashiering Lombardi and promoting Farmer to GM. It didn't have legs and apparently has disappeared.

    It's not a matter of giving Farmer a chance, DW. He ranks well below Haslam, Banner and Lombardi in the food chain. Until he is in a position to have his words really mean something, they should be taken with a grain of salt.

    If, however, he eventually does become the GM, I can almost guarantee you the media will have considerably more access to him than they do Lombardi.