Saying is not necessarily believing
From the Department of He Really Said That? come these two gems:
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has taken umbrage to Jason La Canfora’s claim that the Cleveland front office, among other things, is dysfunctional.
To which Haslam, in full denial mode, replied to the Cleveland media Wednesday: “We work extremely well together.”
What else did you expect him to say? “Sure, we have given dysfunction a whole new meaning? Yep, caught us red-handed. Thought we could get away with it. Pretty stupid to think that, eh?”
What else is going to say when he’s trying to sell season tickets for the upcoming season? He needs seats in his seats. His public relations staff is in damage control mode after the negative happenings of January.
All Haslam is doing right now is spinning furiously to right a ship that is careening somewhat out of control. Most of what is coming out of Berea these days is negative. So he called the media together Wednesday to clear the air.
Good for him. Confronting the issue is much better than running away from it. But drawing a picture of harmony when it’s obvious that isn’t the case at all is not the correct spin here.
At least admit things could be better in light of the departure of the offensive coordinator and two coaches from the offensive side of the ball, the self admission to a rehab facility by one of last season’s first-round draft choices and the season-long banishment of the club’s star wide receiver.
The coordinator couldn’t get out of town quickly enough. And it wasn’t because the Cleveland organization was humming along just fine. When you jot down 32 reasons to leave the club with two years left on your contract and the owner accepts it, something is wrong.
Things are not hunky dory, as Haslam stated. Far from it. If this is hunky dory, the term needs to be redefined. Maybe it is compared to the Oakland Raiders or Washington Redskins or Jacksonville Jaguars, but Haslam certainly aspires to loftier goals.
It is easy to convince one’s self at this time of the season that everything is humming along swimmingly. Last season is in the rear-view mirror, the road ahead is littered with hope and the future is now.
But haven’t we seen this for the last 16 seasons? Players, coaches and owners deluding themselves that next season will be different. Until it isn’t.
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Then there’s the case of Shanahan, speaking for the first time since accepting the job as offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons. One would think his rancorous departure from the Browns would elicit some controversial talk.
It wasn’t exactly a kissy-face, we’ll-miss-you, stay-in-touch kind of leaving. And yet, there was Shanahan speaking almost glowingly of Johnny Manziel and not really going into why he wanted to leave the Browns.
“You make tough decisions and obviously, Cleveland was a tough decision for me,” he told the Atlanta media Tuesday. “You’ve got to make decisions of what you think is best for you, what’s best for your family.
“If you believe it’s right, then you live with it. You live with the consequences and hope tough decisions end up working out. The fact it has led me to Atlanta and I’m in this situation right now, I couldn’t be happier.”
Of course he couldn’t be happier. Unlike with the Browns, Shanahan has a solid quarterback with whom he can work in Atlanta. Not only that, the Falcons have a decent running game and a pair of quality wide receivers. If the Atlanta offense doesn’t improve exponentially in 2015, then Shanahan will be exposed as someone who talks a better game than he coaches.
As for Manziel, Shanahan said, “Johnny’s a great guy and I think he gets a little bit of a bad rap with that because (he) worked very hard for me. I really enjoyed coaching him.” But he said nothing about how little Manziel progressed during that time.
Some people expected Shanahan to rip on the Browns now that he is free. Maybe he does so privately to his confidants, but in public, he carefully couches his words. He’s not going to blast the young quarterback or speak ill of the Browns’ front office.
Wouldn’t be surprised if there is a clause somewhere in his separation documents (or whatever agreements both parties signed to facilitate his departure) that penalizes him if he speaks negatively about his time in Cleveland. Some day maybe when he’s out of the National Football League. Not now.