BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is a veteran of the introductory press conference.
Haslam fell on the sword and acknowledged their failings to date as owners of the Browns and expressed his confidence that they have finally gotten it right – again – with the hire of Dorsey.
“We have not done a good job as owners, and it has been hard, harder than we would have thought,” Haslam said. “But I believe we have the right people in place, and in all organizations, the key ingredient is people. We have the right people in place with John and Hue and the people under them to do that. And I’m really excited going forward, really excited.”
We’ve all heard it before from Haslam, but Dorsey, who is the fourth GM-type football executive hired by Haslam, comes to town with the most experience of any executive at all levels of personnel than anyone else in the 19-year history of the expansion Browns.
Here’s a look at what we learned Friday morning following the nearly 38-minute press conference.
– The process of replacing Sashi Brown began 5-6 weeks ago when Haslam sat down with Brown and informed him they felt the personnel department needed a more experienced voice added to the mix. The Haslams conducted their search while Brown was still the chief executive of the team.
– Head coach Hue Jackson confirmed that Haslam had kept him in the loop in regards to replacing Brown and the hiring process for Dorsey. “I’m not surprised by it,” Jackson said. “Obviously, this was Dee and Jimmy’s hire. They felt very comfortable, but Jimmy did keep me abreast as to who certain people were and what possibly could happen.”
– Haslam is hopeful that not only will head coach Hue Jackson return in 2018 but he’ll be the coach here for a very long time. Jackson currently is 1-27 in Cleveland and 9-35 overall as an NFL head coach.
– Haslam said the current plan is to keep the organizational structure in tact as is and have John Dorsey, Hue Jackson, Paul DePodesta etc. report to him and Dee Haslam, but he won’t ever rule out adding to the structure of the organization. “I would never say we would never do that,” Haslam said. “But we’re comfortable with the alignment with the way it lines up.”
– Haslam denied any involvement in the University of Tennessee coaching search, despite reports to the contrary. “I had nothing to do with the coaching search at Tennessee. Nothing,” Haslam said. “I know there are all reports that I was tremendously involved. I’m a huge backer and supporter of the University of Tennessee, as is our entire family, but I was not involved in the coaching search at UT. Very delighted with the outcome.”
– The shakeup at Tennessee, the fraud trial involving 4 former Pilot Flying J employees, and of course the disaster the Browns continue to be has made for tough times for Haslam over the last month. “It has been tough. It has been really tough,” Haslam said. “The entire investigation has been painful and tough to go through. As you know, we are not on trial, myself nor the company so we can’t comment. We will continue to not comment and see the investigation process, but it has not been easy.”
– Haslam had dinner Monday night with Peyton Manning and they “talk all the time.” He joked about creating a “ripple” by discussing the dinner and his close relationship with Manning. Since the day it was announced the Haslams bought the Browns Manning’s name has been tied to them as a potential option to land in Cleveland. Haslam said Manning hasn’t determined what his next steps professionally will be.
– Haslam addressed racist comments allegedly made by a former Pilot Flying J executive which were caught on taped recordings as part of the investigation into fraud at his company and were revealed by a federal judge in a Tennessee courtroom on Thursday. “I have said since the investigation began almost five years ago that we wouldn’t comment, but yesterday’s comments that came out of the courtroom I think justify comments,” Haslam said. “I will just stand behind what we said yesterday: First of all, none of those individuals work for us anymore. Nobody that works for our company now was present at that event. That is not how we act and do things, and those kind of remarks are intolerable.”
– Big surprise, but Dorsey’s No. 1 priority will be to find a franchise quarterback according to Haslam. “This is a quarterback-driven league. We all know that, and we all know to succeed and go a little bit further and further and further that you need one of those guys,” Dorsey said. “I think it is an evaluation period that is going to take a little bit of a while to put a plan together. The draft is four and a half months away and free agency is like three months away. We have ample time to make a plan here.”
– Dorsey is quite the “eternal optimist” as he put it, predicting the Browns would win their first game of the season Sunday against the Packers, a team he spent over 2 decades with.
– Dorsey brought it strong when it came to understanding and respecting the Browns’ history, which has been thrown in the dumpster and set on fire over the last 19 years. “Let’s reawake this sleeping giant, the Cleveland Browns. I’m kind of excited about that,” Dorsey said and later adding, “This is one of those iconic franchises, which has an unbelievable fan base. Now, we just have to get this thing rolling here, and that is what we are going to do.”
– Dorsey is very appreciative and was complimentary of the work that Sashi Brown did in regards to acquiring draft picks and maintaining salary cap space. “Any personnel guy worth his weight would be excited. I’m not going to lie to you. I think Sashi did a nice job of creating some draft picks and creating some cap space here, but I’m excited. To me, this is an opportunity that not many personnel guys in my position would pass up.”
– Dorsey isn’t looking to come in and overhaul the personnel department. He wants to observe and evaluate over the next few months to see what and who he has to work with moving forward. “To be fair, you do not want to be the guy that comes in and blows things up automatically,” Dorsey said. “Let’s give everybody a 5 1/2-month window to show what they can do. In my past job, I used that same formula and it worked out well.”
– Dorsey addressed the team briefly Friday morning at the request of Jackson.