BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – What had been rumored for months is now reality.
Michael Lombardi is back with the Cleveland Browns.
“I’ve been resting for five years,” Lombardi said. “I’m ready to go. I’ve had enough makeup on.”
Lombardi, who spent the last 5 years at NFL Network as an analyst, was named the V.P. of player personnel by the team Friday morning and was introduced at a press conference shortly after.
“I know we’ve got very best possible person to be a GM,” owner Jimmy Haslam said. “Every person I talked to said, ‘if you can get Mike Lombardi as your GM, you should hire him immediately.’”
Lombardi has not worked for an NFL team since the 2007 and he returns to Cleveland a second time.
“I’m humbled and honored to be back,” Lombardi said. “I know how passionate fans are and how important football is here. When we left and the team moved it was heartbreaking for me. We’ve all grown from those days. I stand before you different, both professionally and personally.”
He previously worked for the Browns from 1987 to 1995 and worked closely with Bill Belichick, who never hired him again. During Lombardi’s time under Belichick, he drafted 1 pro bowler – safety Eric Turner.
Fans remain bitter over Lombardi’s lack luster drafts and of course for releasing Bernie Kosar.
The fact that the move would not be received well by Browns fans didn’t factor into Haslam’s decision to hire him.
“We didn’t worry about that at all,” Haslam said. “I’ve said every decision we make is not going to be popular. I have the utmost confidence Mike is going to help us put together a winning team.”
Lombardi acknowledged his first tenure in Cleveland was far from perfect, but he’s also learned from it.
“If I was same guy who was here 20 years ago, I’d say Joe and Jimmy shouldn’t have hired me,” Lombardi said. “We made a lot of mistakes in the draft, no question.”
Lombardi also worked with Browns CEO Joe Banner for 2 years in Philadelphia assisting with the draft in 1997 and was the Eagles director of pro personnel in 1998.
Besides the Eagles and Browns, Lombardi helped run the personnel departments for the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos.