Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) - Pat Shurmur feels your pain Cleveland.
A day after a bevy of criticism, Shurmur clarified his response to a question yesterday about not encouraging his players to watch ‘Cleveland ’95′ Wednesday night.
“We’re going to have to catch up on that after the season,” Shurmur said Wednesday. “I think this time of year, you don’t have much time to read books and watch movies. I’ll be made aware of what goes on in that special this evening. I think the history of the organization is important. I think it’s important that our guys have a feel for who the great players were that played here.
“As we move forward, I’m more concerned about the 2012 Browns right now. Again, the first part of your question was, ‘I know you’re worried about right now,’ and you’re right.”
The response Wednesday came off as cold, callous and out of touch, regardless of intent.
Shurmur was given an opportunity Thursday to redeem himself, and he did a masterful job.
He loosened up and was even able to joke about the criticism that he received on the radio for his comment Wednesday.
“From the radio? Yeah, I think that’s pretty constant,” Shurmur joked. “Trust me, that doesn’t bother me.”
But he also let fans into what he does behind the scenes concerning teaching his players about the history of the team and the fans here.
“A lot of that information I talked about with the team before the Ravens game, when it was relevant,” Shurmur said. “I believe that history is important, but I think, as a coach, what’s important is that I get it, I understand it. The focus has to be keeping your players in the moment and the moment we’re dealing with right now is preparing the team for the Giants.”
Shurmur touched on his personal experiences here as well as prior to taking over as coach of the Browns. He knows first hand about the frustrations of losing as well as a team packing up and leaving town.
“I’m very well aware of it,” Shurmur continued. “In 95 I worked for Nick Saben, who was here. I know a lot of the guys that were on that staff. I’m very well aware of what it means to lose your team. Actually, I came from an organization, the St. Louis Rams, whose team went to Arizona. So when the Cardinals came to play the Rams, it was just like the Ravens playing the Browns. I’m not insensitive to it. I believe that history is important – I believe in all of that, I really do. I grew up in a town that their team hasn’t won a Super Bowl yet. I get it, I do, I understand it.
“But I think, as the coach, your focus has to be keeping your players in the moment, and the moments we’re dealing with right now is our preparation to play the Giants. I think that’s important.”
His response Thursday was thoughtful, insightful, heartfelt and genuine.
“I live here,” Shurmur said. “I was told about all that before I got here. I’ve lived it. I eat in Cleveland restaurants. I don’t know what to tell you, other than the fact that I get it.
“I think it’s important that, as the head coach of the team, you keep this team’s focus, or keep their eye on the ball moving forward.”
It should have been the one that he gave Wednesday.
Shurmur could save himself a lot of unnecessary criticism if he would communicate better when asked even the simplest, most harmless questions.
With his job on the line, Shurmur has dug in and put up walls while not letting anyone in.
That’s unfortunate for him.
With a new owner on the way, the best thing for Shurmur to do is to show fans the type of person that he is, aside from a coach.
Sometimes that means just as much as wins and losses.