As Ray Farmer takes over, Jimmy Haslam says Browns aren't dysfunctional
Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam ushered out general manager Mike Lombardi and ushered in Ray Farmer as his replacement, also delivering the news that CEO Joe Banner is leaving the organization.
Haslam did admit "I underestimated this," referencing how difficult it is to be an NFL owner.
Although Farmer may very well be an upgrade as a football man and Banner and Lombardi may be paying the price for hastily firing Rob Chudzinski after one season and then failing to land Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, the Browns, at the very least, are battling a perception of dysfunction if not real dyfunction.
"I will just tell you that the people I talked to around the country do not think this isn't an outstanding opportunity here in Cleveland, whether it's to coach, play or work," Haslam said during a hastily-arranged press conference."And I continue to hear that."
Simultaneously, the Browns are the first NFL team to fire both their head coach and general manager after just one season on the job, according to ESPN.
Aware of how it all looks to the fans and larger football community, Haslam insisted: "I will accept comments and criticism about change. There is no primer for being an NFL owner. It is learn-as-you-go."
Haslam emphasized that the old way the organization was configured was "cumbersome."
"We feel that Ray is the best person to handle the personnel side of our organization," Haslam said.
Farmer said he signed a four-year contract, acknowledged he had no say in the hiring of coach Mike Pettine, but emphasized he gets along with him very well. Farmer has control of the 53-man roster.
Farmer said he isn't concerned about Haslam's tendency to change his mind a lot.
"It doesn't bother me one iota," Farmer said. "I'm going to do what I'm supposed to do. My involvement with Jimmy Haslam is he is a reasonable man."
Farmer said he didn't turn down the Dolphins' job with the knowledge that he would get the Browns' general manager position.
"That situation was that situation," Farmer said. "I spoke to the people in Miami about it, I made my decision and I rested on that. Those situations were definitely independent. That job was not right for me. It's that simple."
The Browns could be in the market for a quarterback, perhaps Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel or Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater or Central Florida's Blake Bortles
"I think that regardless of who the player is, that I'll make the right decision," Farmer said. "It's more of a collaborative decision."
Farmer is aware he has his work cut out for him.
"The idea in my mind is to get Cleveland back to a championship-level football team," he said. "We need to get away from the negativity and get to the point where people are proud of the Cleveland Browns and what the organization stands for."
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun